Back in the '80s there was a series of point-and-click first-person puzzle adventures called MacVentures. Some of them got ported to the NES, but for the most part they were just fun little outings on early computers.
The best of these was Shadowgate. Oh the storyline wasn't anything to write home about. Your typical warrior enters a typical castle in order to fight his way to a typical evil wizard. Where it truly succeeded was the incredible atmosphere in the gameplay. You were instantly transported into the massive castle through its intricately detailed (For the time) scenery full of highly inventive traps and danger that you had to think hard to get past. It was Portal for the retro gaming generation.
And now the game is being reborn on PC, Mac, iOS and Android (With possible console versions to follow, oh please!) thanks to a Kickstarter from the people at Zojoi. They're recreating the classic title with amazing fantasy art and animation that puts anything ever done before in the world to shame. Now floating shades and crystalline waterfalls look less like pixelated caricatures and more like things that can actually kill you.
The game feature more than 60 rooms, including brand new ones created for the game as well as more flushed out back story for the characters. New puzzles and updated old ones will help give the game a more modern feel. Best yet, the iconic and unforgettable score gets an upgrade, though you are still free to hear the evergreen 8-bit classic if that's your deal.
The mind behind it is Dave Marsh, who was responsible for the original Shadowgate in 1985 as well as games like Road Runner's Death Valley Rally, Aliens Online, Multiplayer Battletech: 3025, and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. In early 2012 he decided to start his own independent company in Zojoi. Marsh contacted a friend who held the rights to many of the titles he had worked on in the '80s and '90s and asked if he could acquire them from him. These included all the MacVenture titles. The next stop was Kickstarter, where Zojoi sucessfully raised over $130,000 for the game.
"Retro adventure gaming has made a comeback as of late with companies like Double Fine and Replay games proving that folks still love them," said Marsh via email. "There are also a good number of adventure games or hidden object games on portable platforms that seem to be doing well so we're definitely hoping that players are hungry for story-driven adventures - and in our case, those of the first person variety!"Flashback 7 Games We Wish Nintendo Would Give the DS Treatment
Currently the game is slated for release later this year. Hopefully it's just the tip of the iceberg, and will herald the return of other of Marsh's work like Déjà vu and The Uninvited. These games have laid untouched for far too long.
This is the perfect time and place to revisit them. Think of Shadowgate like a medieval Portal, where you have to think careful to find the proper way through. And like Portal, more than half of the fun comes from the macabre, yet humorous actions of the computer in opposition of your goals. GLaDOS may have just hurled fat jokes at you. Shadowgate straight up murdered you and made fun of your corpse. The game is famous of the dozens, maybe hundreds of way that you could die, and lent a mature air of dark humor to the game that has maintained its place as a cult classic.
Marsh's favorite death? The magic mirror that upon breaking sucks you into outer space to die of suffocation. Who knows what other grimly funny murders await us in the refurnished Castle Shadowgate.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.