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Tag Archives: classic

Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero

The Hero's Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

The Hero’s Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

You may have seen a post I did about Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. How did it get to be #2? Well, this post tells you how. When I first played this game, it was called “Hero’s Quest I: So You Want To Be A Hero.” At the same time, there was a board game (which I also owned) called “Hero Quest.” A trademark dispute with the makers of the board game eventually made Sierra (the publisher) change the name of the series to “Quest for Glory.” These were very different times: EGA graphics (16-colour), VGA (256-colour) at best, and these games were distributed on floppy disks. Well, Hero’s Quest came with 5.25s and 3.5s, and was eventually released on CD (wow!) so it wasn’t that archaic I guess (sarcasm!). Still, it was definitely a different time. It was a time when the term “Animated 3D Adventure Game” meant series like King’s Quest and Space Quest (which probably rivaled the Monkey Island series for comedy). 3D meant that your character could walk “behind” bushes and trees… wow! It was different enough time that a video game company was pushed around by a board game company – I doubt the board game industry has the same clout today they once had. Today, games like Assassin’s Creed III sell 3.5 million copies in the first week they’re offered, and Starcraft is a spectator sport!

No matter how it was released or what name it was called, Lori and Corey Cole did an absolutely marvelous job of inventing a classic and now borderline legendary adventure game.  When I heard that they were going to get back into game design and that it would have something to do with being a hero, I absolutely had to sink my teeth back into this original and best Quest for Glory game.

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The Hobbit, revisited

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien

Well, Peter Jackson is at it again, and I love reading Tolkien’s books, so I made my way through The Hobbit again.  I’ll probably read it one more time before the first movie hits theaters this winter, but it’s so much fun to read it again now (or, well, December, when I actually did it… I’m a bit behind in my online writing).

The Hobbit is the tale of… well, a hobbit.  Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton, in The Shire.  A respectable hobbit (meaning, he never does anything unpredictable or too adventurous) who prides himself on the considerable size of his belly, as any good hobbit would do.  The story begins with Bilbo living a rather comfortable and normal life in his desirable hobbit hole, Bag End.  His quiet existence is interrupted by the appearance of a wizard named Gandalf, who volunteers Bilbo’s house to be the muster point for the beginning of a grand adventure to reclaim the lost treasure of a band of dwarves.  Gandalf also conspires to have Bilbo join in on the enterprise, to which Bilbo responds by huffily defending his quiet, normal, predictable life.

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2010: Odyssey Two – two reviews

2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke

Here we go with book and movie in one post, again.  I did this with the predecessor to the book/movie in this post when I covered 2001: A Space Odyssey in both book and movie form side by side.  This time, I’m taking a look at 2010: Odyssey Two (the book) and 2010: The Year We Make Contact (the movie) as close to side by side as I can.  I remember both reading the book and seeing the movie when I was a lot younger, but it’d been long enough that I really only remembered the climax:  I had no idea how either the book or the movie got there.  I remembered that I thought 2010 was the most awesome movie ever at the time (this was some time after 1984 when the movie came out, and 1990 because I saw it before then for sure), so I was a bit concerned because that was when I was young.  I approached the movie version of 2010 with not a small amount of trepidation.  You see (as an example), I ruined my childhood memories of Thundercats by throwing it on the store monitors late at night with my coworkers at Blockbuster Video like 15 years ago.  We all thought that would be a good idea, but only the potheads in the store looking for a “totally whacked movie” to rent appreciated it.  So, the risk was to ruin my childhood memory of a cool space movie.  Well, here we go.

First, both book and movie follow from the general events from the movie version of 2001.  If you read my review of that story, you’ll recall that the movie and the book were slightly different.  In 2001 the book, the story ended up around Saturn; while in 2001 the movie, the story ended up around Jupiter.  So this time, we’re around Jupiter, and the race is on to reach a now famous derelict.  Discovery is still orbiting Jupiter’s moon Io, and still nobody has any idea what happened all those years ago when Dave Bowman famously left to investigate the monolith sitting at the Legrange point between Io and Jupiter.  All anyone on Earth knows is that his last words were “My God, it’s full of stars…”

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Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire

Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire

Video games have gotten big.  Role playing and adventure games have gotten even bigger.  With character attributes and equipment and free world exploration with infinite side-quests and massive online communities of people playing vastly different characters in the same online worlds, it’s hard to sometimes remember the roots of today’s masterpieces.  Now hey, I’m not not complaining about where we’re at now, or yearning for a simpler time and “the way things used to be;”  I’m having a ball playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood right now.  Some of today’s games defy reality with how good they look (take this past week’s Skyrim as an example)!  Still, back in the day, there were Sierra’s adventure games.  I loved them all, the great questing in King’s Quest, the comic space antics of Space Quest, and even the slightly ridiculous adult overtures of Leisure Suit Larry.

Look out, this hero comes ready for the fight!

One series stood out above the rest, though, as far as Sierra’s games go.  I loved the Quest for Glory series.  They were ground-breaking:  easy to get into, fun and excellent plots, character stats you could train, equipment to acquire, and a branched story line depending on what class of character (fighter, thief or magic user) you chose.  They even had day/night cycles to contend with!  The possibilities were (at the time) seemingly endless.  So imagine how happy I was when I found AGD Interactive’s remake of the classic desert adventure Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire!  In this second installment of the franchise, you re-assume the persona of the ridiculously blonde-haired anonymous hero from where he left off in Quest for Glory I, on his way to the desert city of Shapeir in search of new adventures.  I mean, the brave hero pretty much defeated everything that was bad or dangerous in Spielburg, a guy could get bored hanging out there with nothing to do!  Thankfully, some of the folks he helped out turned him on to some problems they’ve been having in their homeland, and the hero takes a magic carpet ride to see where fate will take him!

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2001: A Space Odyssey – two reviews

2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

In my quest to read more, I am revisiting some things I read a long time ago. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of those things. I have enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke’s work ever since I read Childhood’s End in high school English class. I always thought I was 100% into only fantasy novels (thankfully I have branched out in old age), but Childhood’s End got me into science fiction.  If I enjoyed that, stands to reason I’d enjoy one of is most popular works in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Turns out that’s correct.

Now, I didn’t just read the book, I also watched the movie.  I was going to start writing my review of the book right after finishing it, but I held off because I started reading 2010: Odyssey Two.  The forward to that book talks about how 2001 came to be.  It turns out that the book and the movie (though different) were written in tandem.  Strangely, moving forward into the literary sequels to 2001 (starting with 2010), Clarke chose to follow the events and timeline of Stanley Kubrick‘s movie as opposed to the book.  I found it interesting that while book and movie were written in parallel, how parts of the movie were so different from the book, while other parts so wonderfully captured the feeling of what the book described.  Technically, he wrote them both… so maybe he just liked the movie setting better.  I think the two go really well together:  the movie has some wonderful visualizations of the settings described in the book, while the book goes into much greater detail about what’s going on than can be conveyed in the movie.

2001 is divided (in my mind) into four parts:  pre-history, discovery, mission, post-humanity.

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White Fang – book review

White Fang - by Jack London

Okay, so I have to be completely honest here.  Why did I read this book?  Because it was free when I installed Aldiko on my Galaxy S.  For lack of a better explanation, “it was there,” and I felt bad about it being there on my phone and not being read.  It’s a classic piece of literature, so I figured I owed it to history to read it.  I mean, it was there.  The good news is, I wasn’t disappointed in the least.  Spoiler alert – I do have a bit of a synopsis in here, because I like to remember what I read later on.

White Fang – written by Jack London and first published in 1906 – is the story of a dog who is part dog, part wolf, and his journey from birth in the wilds of the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush to a kind of domestication and eventually the hills outside of San Francisco.  It really is an exploration of mood, emotion and temperament, as White Fang adapts his own make-up to his life’s changing circumstances.  It’s at once bleak and triumphant, as Jack London very successfully explores the will to survive, and the lengths to which life will go to preserve itself, even when consumed by hate.  It’s interesting though, it’s not really hate as an emotion, it’s more hate as a reaction to the circumstances, where the image of “hate” is the logical response for life to preserve itself.

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Second Foundation – Book Review

Second Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

Another installment in the wonderful Foundation series by Isaac Asimov (I don’t number it because there are several ways to count them), Second Foundation tells the secret story of the other half of the Seldon Plan.  In humanity’s distant future, Hari Seldon, pioneer of  a branch of mathematics called ‘psychohistory‘, predicted the decline and failure of the galactic empire centered on the planet of Trantor.  The prediction was based on the equations and theories behind psychohistory.  To call it a prediction is maybe not quite accurate; the decline was more like a very high probable outcome based on the understanding of a complete cultural, polictical and socio-economical system.  Indeed, many (including the emperor) thought that Seldon possessed the ability to foretell the future, when in reality he could only predict massive scale trends and say nothing about the individual:  so, he could predict the fate of the empire, but not how prosperous you or I would be in life.

Psychohistory also predicted with a high probability that following the empire’s collapse, the galaxy would be plunged into a thirty thousand year decline, where anarchy would reign and much of human progress (through science and intellect) would be lost before a second empire could be established.  Seeing that the decline of the empire was inevitable, Seldon and his followers used psychohistory to try to reduce the length of the inevitable decline by manipulating the galactic system.  To that end, Seldon and his followers created the Foundation and the Second Foundation.  The Foundation was to be a storehouse of knowledge, a bastion of science and technology that could protect knowledge and progress in the decline.  The Foundation was created in the full visibility of the galaxy.  So, everyone knew about it.  This book is about the Second Foundation, which Seldon and his followers created in relative secrecy.  Through psychohistory, the planned creation of these two foundations would reduce the inevitable decline of the empire and the subsequent unrest and barbarism of the galaxy to a mere one thousand years.

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Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

An absolute classic, Treasure Island (first published in 1883) is the original in the “pirates as heroes” genre.  A swashbuckling adventure from Bristol to the high seas, it follows the adventures of Jim Hawkins and a motley crew of sea-faring buccaneers on a quest for Captain Flint’s buried treasure.  I just finished reading it again, and it’s hilarious to read and compare it to modern adventure equivalents (I’m thinking the modern Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise).  The movies have stolen all of their characterization from this book!

The most famous pirate of all time found his introduction in Treasure Island.  Long John Silver is the perfect anti-hero… sometimes he’s against the grain, and sometimes he’s with it, but you like him regardless.  Johnny Depp studied the mannerisms of Keith Richards when bringing Captain Jack Sparrow to life, but that character is every bit Long John Silver.  Silver is not over-confident, he is just sure of what he’s doing, every moment he’s doing it.  Whether he’s on your side or someone else’s, Silver is always on his side.  Watching the pirate movies of 120 years later, Sparrow’s allegiance to himself is just as sure and steady as is Silver’s.

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