April's Together Retro game club pick at http://Racketboy.com was Deja Vu, a classic adventure game that goes back to the early Mac gaming days, and found a bit of a cult-following on the NES. It was later ported to the Game Boy Color, which is arguably the best version of the game out there. Not only are the graphics bright and the command interface refined, but the cartridge also features the lesser-known sequel as well.
As a fan of adventure games, I was really looking forward to playing my way through this one. The game borrows heavily from film noire, as you a hard boiled detective who wakes up in a bathroom stall with amnesia. And you don't know that you're a detective, but you feel like you've been drugged. It's up to you to piece this case together and figure out who you are. Sounds like fun, right? Well, not so much.
The problem is the utterly frustrating puzzle element of the game. Much of the puzzle solving in this game is completely infuriatingly unfair. So while the game isn't actually incredibly long, it can last much longer because you'll often need to start over due to some game-breaking situation. For instance in my first playthrough I was going from location to location via taxi cab. Each trip cost me 3 of my 20 coins. Eventually I got to a point where I was out of coins and couldn't leave the location I was at. I was stuck and irritated by the time a fellow forum member told me I could get more coins by gambing in the casino (back in the building I had started in). With this new knowledge I restarted my game. I went to the casino and gambled away all 20 of my coins in a slot machine. Turns out the slot machine on the left is a winner, but the one on the right is a loser. So I had to restart my game again.
So how much trial and error is too much? For me, Deja Vu was far too brutal. Too demanding. Too unfair. I think it's easy to write this off as a matter of "games were just harder back then," but I don't think that's the case. I tend to think that making the game so unfair was an attemt at making it last longer. I've played my way through some excellent adventure games like The Secret Of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, and although I may have found myself stumped at times, I never thought that the solution was completely arbitrary either.
But sadly I couldn't even finish Deja Vu, a relatively short game even when I used a FAQ. You see at the very end of the game you must ditch all of your incriminating evidence in a sewer before bringing your proof of innocense to the police department. But the computer wouldn't let me dispose of my gun. After days of trial and error and scouring the internet it came down to the fact that I had never shot open a certain cabinet. I had collected all of the proof I was supposed to, but I couldn't complete this game without shooting open a stupid cabinet. How exactly would anyone be expected to figure this out? Had they made it as far as I had, and seemed to have solved all of the amnesiac puzzles, how would they know they missed a cabinet that had to be shot open?
I was so disgusted that I just stopped playing. I didn't even care if I beat the game or not. And I was certainly not motivated to start up the second.
We all know about E.T., the infamously bad Atari 2600 game. But did you know that Atari buried thousands of unsold copies of the game in a Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill in September of 1983?
Many have doubted this event's authenticity, however a team of four enterprising Auburn University students have decided to team up and make E.T.'s March, a documentary about them trying to locate the landfill where Atari buried all these games. Together, the four students will travel from Auburn, Alabama to El Paso, Texas, which is where the Atari plant was located. From there, they will travel from El Paso to the landfill in Alamogordo, recreating the path that the semitrucks took, while in the meantime taking in the video game culture of the United States.
Judging by the website, they seem very determined to locate this goldmine of video gaming history, and the documentary should prove to be a very interesting watch. Now, I haven't seen King of Kong, the other video game documentary that's been making waves lately, but I can imagine that E.T.'s March must have been inspired by it and the critical acclaim it has been receiving.
The filming of the documentary will take place from March 15-23 and will be released over the internet sometime this summer. There are no plans for a theatrical or DVD release stated on the website, but I assume that they would be willing to do something like that if the right distributor steps in and funds them.
While you're waiting for the film to be released, here's a great, well-researched site all about the E.T. burial story: http://atari.digital-madman.com/
E.T.'s March Official Website