Games of November 2020

Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (PC)

As I implied last month, I've played most of the SCUMM games in some form or fashion, though I never wrote "reviews" for them. These include both Maniac Mansion titles, the other two Monkey Island games, and Sam & Max Hit the Road, unfortunately composing most of the "good" titles in the series, but I want to try everything, and that includes Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the 1989 graphic adventure game based on the film of the same name. (RIP, Sean Connery).

While LucasArts later made Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, which is considered a "good" game and I've heard nice things about, Last Crusade, not so much. It has no music and definitely no voice acting, so it's not as engrossing as the other games. It also has many of the annoying features of older graphic adventure games, including the "pixel hunt" problem with a few innocuous items just a few pixels large (and indeed, the game is used as a visual example in TVTropes' own "Pixel Hunt" article). Yet, for all of these problems, Steam still has it for six dollars (without sale prices). I guess if it isn't part of the "Vault", or couldn't be considered "offensive", Disney has no problem selling something to you for an inflated price.

Moreover, the SCUMM system at the time is very much underdeveloped. The later games like Full Throttle and Curse of Monkey Island streamline the commands a bit too much, while this game has a "What is" command rather than just telling you on mouseover.

A few days before this post went to press, I unceremoniously gave up this game when I realized the biggest problem—getting permanently screwed over if you miss something, which in my case was a wine bottle to retrieve a torch. Ah well, at least we tried!

Terraria (PC)

I admittedly missed the Minecraft train when it was big and before it became what it is today, and I ended up buying Terraria a few years ago, which could be described as "Minecraft in 2D". I recently decided to try to get into it again (I played around with it in 2018) after hearing about the new update. It's a very grindy game that focuses on a lot of clicking and holding the mouse to pull out rock and dirt chunks as you go underground, and the crafting element isn't really that intuitive (crafting can depend on the item, and unlike Factorio, it's not immediately obvious what can be made with what). Still, for weird people like me, there's something about trying to build long, straight tunnels for some goal of getting to the end of the map.

Besides just mindlessly tinkering on the huge procedurally generated underground map, you'll have to be consulting the Terraria wiki for everything including crafting and how to attract NPCs to your "village" area, and unlike Minecraft, which had a number of books published for it, the few Terraria books you can get include a cheaply-produced, unhelpful paperback at 44 pages (to the point where you could print something out yourself and have a better resource) and almost ten bucks, or a more "official" guide that is color (if out of date, as the game has received major updates since) but out of print, and certainly not worth the $500 Amazon would like to charge you for it. The biggest weakness of Terraria and the one that caused me to stop playing is that the game is almost meant to be played cooperatively and the bosses are not scaled properly for single player. The massive 3,000+ HP beasties don't really seem to be able to be tackled by a single player, and I don't really want strangers in my world, as (I imagine) they'd ignore the big problem, cut me out of actually helping me defeat the boss, and plunder everything of value. If I only had some friends into the game...

Glider PRO (PC/Mac)

Dreams really do come true even in this hellscape of a year, in the form of Aerofoil, a source port of Glider PRO. (A project got started on this site, but it never got anywhere). Previously covered on this site here, Aerofoil is updated to the extent it looks and plays pretty much like the original complete with sounds and movies, with the biggest weakness not using Apple fonts and using off-the-shelf free alternatives instead. Ironically, while no macOS ports exist yet, the game is here if you'd like to fly Glider PRO once more.

Apeiron (Mac)

While Apeiron unfortunately has no source port and is locked onto the Mac (the publisher, famed Mac developer Ambrosia Software, is defunct), it at least is playable in the latest build of SheepShaver, but only if you use the new mouse-lock feature. Apeiron is basically a port of the old Atari arcade game Centipede with the latest in 1990s enhancements and sound effects, and, like with Bubble Trouble several years back, my high score was miles higher and better than anything I had ever acheived on a real Mac years ago owing to being better at video games at general, and I got to see some of the crazier stunts the game begins pulling on you. The in-game help informs you that the mushrooms that litter the screen are harmless and only block your way but "grow some teeth" later on, which in this case, means they'll randomly jump off the screen at you sometimes, and later, deflect your shots. Ouch!