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The Bard's Tale II: Destiny Knight

Interplay 1986
Genre: RPG
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

If you enjoyed the first game, Tales of the Unknown: The Bard's Tale, you'll enjoy this one as well. The play style is almost completely identical. The artwork, though limited to 16 colors, was well done in my opinion. The music was much better on the alternate systems (Amiga, Commodore 64, Apple IIgs, etc...) but they did the best they could with the PC's speaker.

The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate

Interplay Productions 1988
Genre: RPG
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

Bard's Tale III – Thief of Fate is the third and final chapter in the original Bard's Tale saga. Again, the play style remains the same but the world has been expanded. The music choices have been expanded to include AdLib or Roland MT-32 (the best IMHO.) If you are using DOSBox to play, you will need mount the necessary MT-32 ROM files to utilize the latter, or a real MT-32 with a compatible interface. Reading the Reference Card will tell you how to set for the non-default values (PC Speaker & EGA Graphics.)

The Black Lily

Hannes Schueller 2014
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

[Herr M.] For this year's 20th Interactive Fiction Competition, Mr Creosote decided not just to limit himself to reviewing, but deliver material for discussion in the form of his own game. Black Lily is the title of a dark chrome nightmare whose protagonist is plagued by some suppressed details from the past. I sat down with the author to talk about the game a bit and look behind the scenes.

The Blackwell Legacy

Wadjet Eye Games 2006
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

Episodic formats are very convenient for marketing purposes, because you can milk your customers which are already hooked repeatedly. After all, who will just quit after playing through half of a story? Right, people will pay for the next part, the one after that and so on for the rest of time. In theory. As tempting as it may seem to take advantage of this, you're also taking two big risks designing your game in an episodic fashion. First, you actually need to get your audience hooked. Second, you need to design your narrative to work on two levels: the small story of each episode which needs its own beginning, arc and resolution as well as the global plot spanning over all episodes.

The Bugs Bunny Hare-Brained Adventure

Hi Tech Expressions 1990
Genre: Action
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

Bugs Bunny, hero of countless episodes and movies - one of the most popular cartoon characters - is the protagonist of this game. Now you might have played one or the other game based on a cartoon before and usually those games are just not... good. But in this case - trust me on this one - you get quite a nice game.

The Carls Lewis Challenge

Teque / Psygnosis 1992
Genre: Action, Sport, Strategy
Rating: 2/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

Carl Lewis might have been the athlete of the 1980s, but by the 1990s, his star was sinking. For the 1992 Olympic Games, he only qualified (and won) in his favourite discipline, the long jump. In the sprint distances, he did not even compete. In the 4 x 100m relay, he gave a solid, but unimpressive performance (by his former standards). It became clear that he was turning into a thing of the past. Not unlike this game he 'endorsed'.

The Case of the Cautious Condor

Tiger Media 1991
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga, PC (DOS)

It's been many years since you've last heard from your old war buddy Bronson Barnard. You two had been flying together over France in 1917, you even saved his life there once. After the war, your lives drifted apart. He became a successful industrialist, you joined the police first, and became a private detective later.

The Chaos Engine

Bitmap Brothers 1993
Genre: Action
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga, PC

The Chaos Engine – a steampunk take on the Gauntlet concept. Let's say it's not that far fetched to assume there were fans of William Gibson's The Difference Engine among the Bitmap Brothers at the time. Though where said novel, although imaginative, is still well grounded into an alternate reality which does not sound all that far fetched, this game presents a scenario more akin to an apocalyptic horror movie: A Victorian scientist has built a machine able to influence the very fabric of time and space. That being fairly shaky anyway, what he unwittingly causes is the world turning into a surreal, monster-infected mess.

The Chaos Engine 2

Bitmap Brothers 1996
Genre: Action
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

Chaos Engine. The epitome of an Amiga game. Made by the Amiga company. The immensely popular first part actually found its way to the PC more than a year later after the initial Amiga release. But then there was nothing.

The Child Murderer

Michael Zerbo 1994
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 1/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Amiga

Michael Zerbo used to be one of the most infamous authors of 'adult' (meaning violence, not sex) interactive fiction. His games always had some sort of gruesome theme, and the solutions to his puzzles were often equally gruesome. He alienated the classic target audience by utilizing commands such as USE (a mortal sin in the IF scene), yet his games were huge hits as their download counts exceeded those of more 'accepted' authors by more than an order of magnitude at times. This went so far that he even released some of his games as Shareware, i.e. expecting to make money from them (more info on that in the final paragraph).

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