Castlevania [1986] + Dark Castle [1986]

Just from reputation, I expected to have to turn around and eat my words from the Super Mario Bros [1985] post, the ones about how it inaugurated a new kind of thoroughgoing consideration towards player onboarding which quickly became gold standard. But instead, I saw it more or less confirmed. The gameplay begins with a … Continue reading Castlevania [1986] + Dark Castle [1986]

A Mind Forever Voyaging [1985]

(Content warnings: My suicide attempts. Racism against black and Asian people. Animal cruelty. Police brutality. Fascism.) Continued. Around these parts it feels like the world never even started. That's by design. Trust me, I've helped build these rows of tract housing at a remove from the cities. Not even suburbia, which is immediately adjoining a … Continue reading A Mind Forever Voyaging [1985]

Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? [1985]

The genre of the "detective game" predates the video game, but it suits the medium like two gears meshing. The narrative impetus to piece together discrete units of information in some systematized way or another suits the computer. Though the genre likely peaks here in the 1980s, it's a perennial genre that never really goes … Continue reading Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? [1985]

King’s Quest [1984]

The most infamous puzzle in King's Quest [1984] is the Rumpelstiltskin puzzle. Schematically, this puzzle is strikingly identical to the hideous Odysseus puzzle in Zork [1980]: Based only off knowing the general milieu of reference material (fairy tales here, Ancient Greek mythology there) and a loose aesthetic association (between Rumpelstiltskin and a hut made of … Continue reading King’s Quest [1984]

Portopia Serial Murder Case [1983]

(Content warning: Police abuse, suicide. Spoilers for Portopia.) While both Colossal Cave Adventure [1975/77] and The Portopia Serial Murder Case [1983] are nostalgic reveries of a real location from the author's life crammed into the computer, Portopia must abridge its Kobe City. It's not as geographically exacting, instead compressing locations into composite sketches and eliding … Continue reading Portopia Serial Murder Case [1983]