Not science fictional, Lucasfilm Games/Lucasarts’ The Secret of Monkey Island is a fantasy game that takes place in the Caribbean during the 17th century. It follows a young man who wishes to be a pirate and claim a fortune. Postmodern anachronisms, puns, and tongue-in-cheek game advertisements for other Lucasarts games makes this an interesting and enjoyable game to play from the early 1990s.
As I mentioned in my last post, Sam and Max Hit the Road is another fine game from the heyday of Lucasarts PC gaming in the early 1990s. I remember playing this game on my 486 DX2/66 at my grandparents’ house when I stayed with them the Summer of 1994. Sam and Max are two private detectives, a dog and an insane rabbit, who scour the United States for a carnival’s missing frozen big foot. Based on the comic book by Steve Purcell, Sam and Max Hit the Road is perhaps the most irreverent of the Lucasarts SCUMM games.
Like the other fine games from Lucasarts at that time that used the SCUMM game engine, they brought together humor and a tightly crafted narrative that gave gamers enough room to explore without being confined to a game-on-rails. The Monkey Island series is another example of these strong PC games (more next time!).
The original Maniac Mansion was good, but the sequel Day of the Tentacle is comedic science fiction gold! In the longplay embedded above, you can follow the story as Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne fight the ubermensch Purple Tentacle. The early 1990s was the high water mark for Lucasart humor-laden adventure games. Sam and Max Hit the Road is another amazing game from that era (fuel for another post!).
The above longplay video from cubex55 is an extremely fast and well-timed run-through of the original Mega Man on the NES. Mega Man is another early science fiction console video game and it is about the good android Mega Man, built by Dr. Light, defending the world against the evil robots built by Dr. Wily. Mega Man is a classic side-scrolling adventure that is among my favorite NES games.
Following the rise of 3D gaming environments due to the ready availability of high performance 3D-enabled video cards, Doom graduated from simple polygons and sprite technology to completely immersive environments in Doom 3. I had this game in mind when I built a new PC around an nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra video card in 2004.
Doom 3 takes place on Mars in the future. A scientist experiments with the occult and unfortunately releases demonic forces that you have to defeat in order to survive. This was the first game that I enjoyed the exhilaration and fear of while playing in the dark.
One science fiction game that bedeviled my friend Bert and I when we were in middle school was Flashback: The Quest for Identity. In the long-play video above, cubex55 takes us through the complete game. Well done, sir!
I am happily surprised that the Supreme Court sided with the Freedom of Speech today to strike down a California Law that restricted minor’s access to violent video games [story here on The New York Times]. Their ruling basically restricts how the State may restrict minor’s access to speech such as video games, violent or not. However, it does not impose any restriction on a parent to how he or she raises a child, such as forbidding the playing of such video games.
UPDATE: This is the paradox of American “save the children” doctrine. Children can view and virtually engage violent speech through video games, television, and movies, but they cannot be exposed to naked bodies or profanity. How is violence more okay than nudity and language? Shouldn’t nudity and language be less harmful, if we’re talking about influencing a young mind, than seeing violence?
I just ran across Ars Technica’s response to the ruling, and Nate Anderson points out the differences in the two dissenting votes on this case here. Breyer raises similar questions as I do above, but Clarence Thomas in one of his few written statements from the court demonstrates his knowledge of Originalism as if times, interpretation, and parenting never change.
Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer is reported to have made an amazing overstatement today regarding the massive security breach of the Playstation Network: “We are up and running, and we are safer than ever” (via Sony Chief Howard Stringer Likens Hackers To Mujahideen). Perhaps by “ever” he means “before, we were running a wide-open version of Apache with nary a security update or firewall in sight, but now, we have implemented some semblance of protection for our customers’ online data.” Find out more about how easy it was for the “hackers” to break through or merely hop over Sony’s less-than-watertight defenses here.
As I mentioned back in February 2011 here, the Smithsonian American Art Museum held an online vote for video games to be included in their upcoming exhibit, “The Art of Video Games.” Now, they have announced the winning video games to be included as well as a number of titles that will be playable at the exhibit, too. The games to be shown at the exhibit are (you should also read the linked PDF below for more description and screenshots of the included games):
The following games topped the public vote and will be featured in The Art of Video Games in 2012. A PDF with more information is available here. In addition to the 80 games below, five playable games will be included in the exhibition: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and World of Warcraft.
1943: The Battle of Midway
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
Attack of the Mutant Camels
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy VII
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metroid Prime 2: Echos
Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Phantasy Star IV
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Shadow of Colossus
Sid Meier’s Pirates!
Spy vs Spy
Star Fox™: Assault
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Brothers 3
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario World
The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
I am very happy to see many of my favorite all-time games on the list including Super Mario Brothers 3, Star Fox, and Final Fantasy VII. Also, the curators’ decision to include playable games is absolutely important for uninitiated game players to see and experience the art of video games. The Art of Video Games exhibit will run from March 16, 2012 – September 30, 2012 in the 3rd floor North, American Art Museum in Washington, DC. I can’t wait to be there next year!
Mark Millan has a good piece on CNN.com title “Some game developers unhappy with Apple, Nintendo” that tackles the race to the bottom on the Apple App Store (too inclusive?) and the barriers that Nintendo has put in place to develop for their console and portable platforms (too exclusive?).