Gabez once leant upon a coppice gate when frost was spectre-gray, and winter's dregs made desolate the weakening eye of day. Then he went home.
March was an eventful month in the Mojo cave. Because of a set of escalating coincidences I found myself in San Francisco at the time of the International Games Creation and Entertainment Conference (actually, I still have no idea what it was) and had plenty of adventures. Well, I nearly went to a Sam & Max launch party and got drunk with Ron Gilbert but I was too young so I went back to my hostel and ate chocolate biscuits instead. I wrote up my findings in an article that was affectionately referred to by Marek 'games journalism is art' Bronstring as "a train wreck of epic proportions" (or something like that).
We also had our first review from The Tingler, and it proved to be a controversial one! The Mole, The Mob and the Meatball got a shocking two and a half skulls, which spurted many weepy face emotions, but in retrospect has been deemed “harsh but fair." It was soon followed by a review of Abe Lincoln Must Die! that got a well deserved 5 star rating – marking, in my opinion, the point that season one of Sam & Max turned from good to great.
Telltale continued to go from strength to strength with the rest of their wonderful Sam & Max series, and the CSI game we received in April wasn't half bad either. The second Telltale CSI game, Hard Evidence, came out in October, and managed to be even better. To be honest I haven't played any of the CSI games, but (as Remi would say) "I'm OK with that" because I know it's just not my thing. I'm sure that if I did actually play it, I would enjoy myself, but then the same argument could be used for any number of enjoyable past-times that aren't really for me. Like snowboarding. Anyway, I hope that Telltale do well from the CSI licence, and I think it's good that they're working on two very different types of games at the same time.
With all this talk of licences, you might think that my 2008 wish would be for Telltale to create an original game. Well, yes, I would like that. But of course Sam & Max is more original than most games that aren't based on licences – so as long as Telltale continue to do innovative things with their licences, "I'm OK with that." We'll see if LucasArts follow suit with Indiana Jones and the Insert Game Here and with The Force Unleashed (what? Seriously, what is that? The what unleashed? What IS it?)
Last year I wished upon a star that Telltale would make a full motion length computer game, and I still stand by that wish. They could then make a sequel that's a series of spin-off episodes based on loose plot ends and background characters. What would this imaginative game be about? I'm not sure. But something really crazy. Just lock Dave Grossman in a broom cupboard for a week and see what he's scratched on the walls by the end: then make a game based on that. That's probably have Day of the Tentacle was created.
Oh, and more Bone. Please? A Bone episode with all the polish and game play innovation of Sam & Max would definitely be worth playing. It would be worth marrying.
IT WORKS LIKE CRAZY!
April brought news of another game that might have fallen under your radars. Remember Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein from the classic Indiana Jones adventures The Last Crusade and the Fate of Atlantis? Well they're back, and bigger than ever, and making an adventure game based on... real history! Mata Hari to be precise: a figure I would love to find out more about. And I think it's great that a game is being based on real historical characters. It'll be like Broken Sword meets The Last Express.
The thing is, do you care? Honestly? Are you all too busy playing Bioshock to really play traditional point and click adventure games anymore? ElTee, our man in the castle, had this to say:
Well, 2007 was an odd year. I've been out of the game-playing circuits for a long time, and 2007 has been the year that finally pulled me back into that tired race - but now that I'm in it again, I'm enjoying it. I've stopped all that looking back business that stopped me from pulling ahead in the past, and now I've got my sights set firmly forward, anticipating every turn with excitement.
Because 2007 was the year of Sam and Max, right? And all those other games we talk about on Mojo - that one Bill Tiller is making, and whatever Insecticide is. Originality!
Well, no. 2007 was the year of Bioshock - the first game I've ever played that has managed to play the 'graphics' card (pardon the pun) on me, and win. It was also the year of Portal, a game I've endorsed to more people than probably any other, ever.
You're all moaning now about graphics being a cheap card to play. Even those of you who took your friends into your PC room fifteen years ago going, "You think Sonic looks good? Check this out!" and then put the Day of the Tentacle intro on.
The fact of matter is, those two games had something that wasn't listed in Gabez's "good game" manifesto. I mean, they had all that other stuff – interesting characters (GLaDOS), incredible atmosphere (Rapture); they were hilarious (GLaDOS again) and challenging at the same time. And they were fun to play.
And maybe the thing that made them fun was the adrenaline. Maybe?
So what do I want from 2008? Some adrenaline-filled adventure games, please.
PS. I'm cheating a bit. Perhaps if I had played the adventure games like I was supposed to, instead of selling my pre-release reviewer's copies on eBay and going to Amsterdam, I would have a more balanced opinion. So I promise in 2008, I will play more adventure games. Also Brutal Legend.
I think ElTee makes a lot of good points there – games should be exciting as well as having good storylines and characters and so on. But what's worse than great writing but no thrills is all thrills and no... no soul. Thrillville is a good example of that (possibly – I've never actually met anyone who's played that yet.) Thrillville is another example, announced in April 2007: a game so boring I forgot it existed and have no idea when it'll be coming out.
The idea of a new American civil war is fairly exciting, but the press release made it sound like dinner with Bill Gates. Like with the next Indiana Jones game, LucasArts seem overly proud of their physics engine. With Indy you can throw characters around like rag-dolls: with Fraxion (or whatever it's called) you can shape the terrain like putty. And that's just it. The impression I get of those games' characters and game world is mere rag-dolls and putty. I might be wrong: these might be brilliant games. But I actually think that I'll look forward to the likes of Mata Hari in the mean-time. At least that's not floating in space.
May showed us that pirates were still cool (as if there was any doubt) with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean III. Whatever you think about its quality as a film, it was at least a lot of fun because of all the imaginative ideas thrown into it. Giant Voodoo goddesses that have nothing to do with anything but look cool? Sure, why not. As long as Johny Depp's in it.
Of course, all of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Summer of Sam & Max and silliness in Germany was just building up to the biggest news event of the year! Thrillville 2 Brutal Legend! Honestly, Jack Black and Tim Schafer united at last? That's every fanboys (and girls) deepest desire! The game also looks really cool, and we won't have too long to wait either (it'll be out in 2008!)
What else is going to happen in 2008? More games, hopefully. That would be awesome.
Just as long as there's not any white space.
Next page: the results from the 2007 Mojo reader awards!