Adventure Games

For several years now, the PC gaming world has been lamenting the death of the adventure game. The funny thing is that the genre is alive and well; it just doesn’t thrive as much in the commercial world. However, it appears that developers are interested in reversing that trend and, in part, are using the iPhone platform to do it. Over the last several months, quite a few adventure games have been ported to the iPhone, ranging from the first adventure game ever made, to one of the most beloved. I’d like to share my thoughts on some of these translations, and where I hope this trend is heading. This is my look at the state of the adventure game on the iPhone.

First there was text

Those of us that are old enough, remember a time when we had to type “N” to move north, or “take gun” to pick up a weapon. One of the most revered developers during that time was Infocom, who brought us the land of Zork and many other games. Epic adventuring existed before that, however, and the iPhone is lucky enough to have a version of the very first computer adventure game.

Then there were graphics

One thing I like about the adventure games that people have chosen to port over to the iPhone and iPod touch is that there are some nice “firsts” among them. Just as Advent was the first adventure game, Mystery House is the first adventure game to sport a graphical display. In this section, I’ll also cover Transylvania which, while not a “first,” was definitely one of the first graphical adventure games I remember playing.

More modern fare

Just because the gaming community wants to pronounce the adventure game genre dead, the developer community doesn’t have to agree. Most notable in its efforts to keep this genre alive, Malinche Entertainment is probably the only company still in existence that commercializes text adventures. The Adventure Company has seen several of their graphic adventure games ported to mobile platforms; the first one on the iPhone is Return To Mysterious Island.

This article just skims the surface of what’s available for adventure gamers. There are more games to induce nostalgia, such as Flight Of The Amazon Queen, Beneath A Steel Sky and a fan favorite – Secret Of Monkey Island. Then there are the iPhone originals like Soul Trapper, 1112 and Hysteria. These aren’t just some hack projects that developers threw together in a couple of months. It’s apparent that a lot of work went into these titles because the developers still believe in the magic of adventure games. With sequels to 1112 and Hysteria in development, as well as an upcoming iPhone version of Syberia from Tetraedge, the future bodes well for the genre. Now if we could just get some of the wonderful Sierra point and click games from the 80s…

The past is now present—and the future looks even brighter!
Winter 2010
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