Telecomsoft’s “Rainbird” label was known for putting out a variety of high-quality releases aimed at more “mature” gamers: things like adventure games, strategy games and simulations.
A popular set of games released under this label were the illustrated text adventures composed by Magnetic Scrolls — a range of games with a distinctly British sense of humour about them, along with some excellent writing, some well-crafted “feelies” in the packaging and, as usual for the genre, plenty of crazy puzzles to figure out.
One such example is Jinxter, a game which challenges you to deal with the fact the world is suffering a bit of a spate of… wossname… bad luck.
I love it when game developers get creative. This is not an altogether unusual sight these days, of course, but back in the early to mid ’80s, it was always a real treat to see someone step outside of genre “norms”.
Such was the case with Time Bandit by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear, a top-down action adventure with elements of text adventures, role-playing games, Pac-Man and all manner of other goodness. While superficially resembling Gauntlet — which actually came out after Time Bandit was fully developed — there’s a hell of a lot of depth here, and some fiendish puzzles to unravel.
If you want a game that pretty much sums up what the Atari ST gaming experience is all about, you can do far worse than give Time Bandit the, uh, time of day.
As I write this, I have beside me a copy of the October 1997 issue of PC Zone, a then-popular, now sadly defunct PC games magazine from my homeland of the UK.
I keep this magazine around for two reasons: firstly, the walkthrough of Discworld II on page 145 was written by none other than a teenage yours truly, earned me what felt like a small fortune when I was in secondary school, and represented one of the earliest occasions on which words I had written appeared on national newsstands; and secondly, I simply enjoy looking back on old magazines and seeing how much the games industry and its members’ attitudes have changed over the years.
It’s this second point that I particularly want to explore today.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
The arrival of relatively affordable virtual reality solutions has the potential to allow us to explore narrative and characterisation in all-new ways — and I’m especially excited to see what Japan comes up with.
An oft-cited strength of narrative-centric Japanese interactive entertainment is the sense of “intimacy” it engenders between the player, the protagonist and the core cast. Visual novels in particular are noteworthy for their in-depth explorations of characters and in allowing the player to “ride along” inside the protagonist’s head as they encounter various situations.
So what might virtual reality bring to this kind of experience? It’s an interesting question to ponder, and an exciting prospect to imagine.