Adventure News

February 2007



Jensen, Lowe, and Adams announced as guests for convention in Vegas

If you're an adventure fan, you can finally leave that Klingon costume in the closet this year, as 2007 marks the year of AdventureCon. That's right, the genre is getting its very own convention in Las Vegas this summer.

Co-founded by Howard Sherman of Malinche Entertainment and Randy Sluganski of Just Adventure, and intended to "celebrate thirty years of adventure game fun and entertainment with 10,000 square feet of wall-to-wall fun catering to every kind of adventure game fan", AdventureCon is scheduled for the weekend of August 28th and 29th at the Mirage Hotel. Announced guests so far include text adventure legend Scott Adams, Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe, and Gabriel Knight creator Jane Jensen.

AdventureCon is currently accepting early registrations at discounted prices, from $299 (all prices US) for a convention ticket alone, or $599 for a "Stay and Play" package that includes a two-night stay at the Mirage. Both tickets include free breakfast and lunch, plus of course full access to the convention itself, which will reportedly include several workshops, an Exhibitors Area and a special Zork Room open throughout, plus evening cocktail parties to round out the experience.

The schedule is considered tentative at this stage, as event planning is still in the formative stages, but you can follow all the latest news on AdventureCon by visiting the official website. From there you can also sign up for regular updates through the AdventureCon newsletter.



Highschooler looks for date, plays in your browser

Earlier this month a new, free adventure game was released. Hewitt is the work of Casper Smith and Chris Gianelloni of B-group Productions.

In Hewitt, you take control of the eponymous hero, a geeky high school student, as he attempts to find a date for the homecoming dance. As so often happens, this task turns out to involve a complex series of intermediate challenges, and Hewitt will need to take full advantage of his ingenuity, ruthlessness and unusually spacious pockets to succeed. This is a large game (one year in the making), with many locations and plenty of things to do.

Hewitt is made with Flash, and is played through your web browser. You can find it on B-group Productions and on several casual gaming sites. If you like Hewitt, the duo's previous adventure game, Griswold the Goblin, may also be worth a look.



Historical indie adventure sets up online

While more and more adventures are coming from Japan these days, independent American developer Abborado Studios is preparing to give us one in Japan. Or three games, to be precise, in 17th century Japan at that. As work continues on Earth, the first of three installments of Once Upon a Time in Japan, Abborado has just announced the launch of its official website.

The home page of the new website alone offers a teasing glimpse into the unique cultural flavour of the games, but the site also includes new images and character information that help lay the groundwork for the upcoming series. Among the characters introduced is Zenjiro, the 43-year old samurai now quietly and peacefully raising his family after many long years of civil war in Japan.

Unfortunately for him, "Zenjiro discovers the forces of nature can cut as deeply as any katana, and without a shred of remorse. A survivor by circumstance, not only must he explore the province to find others; he has to search his own soul for answers. Along the way he will realize that peace has a price, and in a land ruled by the military for four centuries, there are those who have come to rely on the very wars they fought to exterminate."

Once Upon a Time in Japan: Earth is currently scheduled for release late this year.



The Ugly Prince Duckling waddles into North America in March

The name Hans Christian Andersen is instantly recognizable as the author of many classic fairy tales. But in HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN: The Ugly Prince Duckling, the 19th century Danish writer is the star of his very own PC adventure.

Although its product page first appeared on The Adventure Company's website some time ago, the Canadian publisher has at last announced officially that the game is coming to North America on March 13th.

In The Ugly Prince Duckling, players control a 14-year old Andersen on the streets of Copenhagen in the early 1800s. An aspiring artist in search of success, Andersen soon finds himself on a quest to rescue the Princess and save the kingdom from the evil Master of Darkness and his army of Trolls. Although based primarily on the author's own life, the game will include many elements and characters from Andersen's stories along the way.

For more information about HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN: The Ugly Prince Duckling, be sure to read our E3 preview of the game.



Episode 4 now available on GameTap

The most politically incorrect comic crimefighting duo takes a road trip to the White House today, as the fourth episode of Sam & Max: Season 1 has now launched on GameTap.

In Abe Lincoln Must Die!, Sam & Max face their toughest opponent yet, and this time it's none other than the President of the United States himself... except the President isn't acting like himself at all. It's up to the Freelance Police to get to the bottom of his unusual behaviour, or perhaps find a better candidate to run the country. If that candidate happens to be a deranged rabbity thing with a penchant for wanton violence, all the better.

Episode 4 is available exclusively on GameTap until March 8, at which point it will be available for purchase and download worldwide from Telltale.



First two volumes bundled by Lighthouse

If you missed the independent release of volumes one and two of the Delaware St. John series the first time around, now you can scoop both in an adventure pack just released by Lighthouse Interactive in the UK.

Originally available only through the official website, Lighthouse picked up the publication rights to the The Curse of Midnight Manor and The Town with No Name in November, and the two-disc Adventure Box has now shipped to retailers in the UK. The bundle will also be released in several other European countries in the coming weeks, and in the US next month.

The first-person, point-and-click Delaware St. John games are part of an ongoing paranormal series featuring the titular protagonist and his assistant, Kelly Bradford. In a familiar premise for supernatural thrillers, Delaware is attuned to the voices of the dead, and each case tasks him with discovering the mystery behind an unexplained death or tragedy. Not all ethereal forces are good, however, and Delaware is continually stalked by a sinister presence that seeks to end both his investigation and his life.

In The Curse of Midnight Manor, Delaware and Kelly explore an old abandoned hotel where a group of teenagers vanished without a trace, and in The Town with No Name, the pair find themselves in a long-deserted town, so remote it's unmarked on any map, whose residents all died or disappeared suddenly twenty years before.

The Delaware St. John Adventure Box is retailing for £14.99. For more information about the two games, be sure to read our reviews of both Volume One and Volume Two.

Lighthouse will also be publishing the third game in the series. The Seacliff Tragedy is currently scheduled for release this April in the UK and May in the US.



Publisher announced for UK, France, and Benelux countries

News of out Germany today will be welcomed by adventure fans in the UK, France, and the Benelux countries, as a distribution partner has been announced for the highly-anticipated A Vampyre Story. Although word of the agreement has been circulating for several weeks now, Crimson Cow has officially revealed that Focus Home International will be handling publishing in those territories.

Focus is no stranger to the genre, of course, being the international publisher for the high-profile current titles Runaway 2 and Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, so this agreement represents a significant step for the game.

In case you've been sleeping upside down in a cave for the last couple years, AVS is the debut adventure of Autumn Moon, a studio founded by former LucasArts developers. Having survived one failed publishing deal, the worldwide rights were finally picked up by Crimson Cow and the game is now in full production. Players should get a chance to sink their teeth into A Vampyre Story at the end of this year.



Multiplayer adventure officially launched on GameTap today

It's better late than never for Myst fans, particularly those disappointed by the ill-fated launch of Uru Live several years ago, as the revived, revamped, and renamed Myst Online: Uru Live was officially launched on GameTap today.

Developed by Cyan Worlds, Myst Online is a new type of multiplayer experience, using the introduction of new Ages and puzzles in "fusing the social concepts of a traditional massively multiplayer online game with mystery and problem-solving facets." The online experience promises to include all the things that we've come to expect from the Myst franchise, including exploration of beautiful, imaginary worlds, linking book teleportation, and of course challenging puzzles. But it also includes social features like voice and text chat to let players communicate, travel, and work together for the first time. And as players interact with their surroundings, the ongoing storyline will reportedly adapt and evolve according to the choices made and actions taken.

Myst Online: Uru Live is a GameTap exclusive, and is available to subscribers of the broadband entertainment network in the US and Canada. However, the game will also be made available in several countries around the world via direct download. To check on availability in your area or get more information about Myst Online in general, be sure to check out the game's official website. The website includes links to subscribe to GameTap for the full Myst Online experience, or a free limited trial period to sample a portion of the game.



New indie adventure based on classic Welsh legends

Fans of popular horror adventures like Scratches and Barrow Hill should start bracing themselves for another haunting experience, as independent developer Arberth Studios has announced production on its debut title Rhiannon - Beyond the Mabinogion.

Based on the classical Welsh "Four Branches" legends, the game is a modern day extension of the conflict recorded in the Mabinogion, where the evil wizard Llwyd held a grudge against the prince Pryderi, but vowed never to seek vengeance during the prince's lifetime. After death is a different matter altogether, and in Rhiannon, the battle between the two is still ongoing and now revolves around a rural Welsh farmstead.

As the lines between natural and supernatural begin to blur, the current disturbances on this lonely property have been felt by fifteen-year old Rhiannon, and it's up to the player to resolve the ongoing ancient mystery. According to the press release, the point-and-click adventure will have gamers journeying though "a hippie commune, an Edwardian tragedy and pre-Christian myths. Magic and science are interwoven, with the 'Four Elements', the physics of combustion, astrology, Kirlian photography, Email, an ancient Celtic script and lots more all playing a part."

Rhiannon - Beyond the Mabinogion is initially being developed for PC, and will be released on DVD with a targeted release in late 2007 or early 2008. For more information about the game, be sure to check out the game's official website.



The adventure game formerly known as Broken Sword 4

While George Stobbart's latest adventure has been available to European adventurers for several months already, North American gamers have not yet had the chance to pursue The Angel of Death. That is, not until now, as The Adventure Company have announced the shipping of Secrets of the Ark, which is the North American subtitle for the latest game in the Broken Sword series.

Secrets of the Ark takes place one year after the events in The Sleeping Dragon, and casts players once again in the roles of the wisecracking American George Stobbart and plucky French journalist Nico Collard. After having settled down to the life of a mundane 9 to 5 desk job, Stobbart is reluctantly drawn into a desperate search for a nefarious artifact of great and terrible power, that threatens to alter the course of history forever.

Secrets of the Ark is shipping now, and will be available in stores at the suggested retail price of $29.99 USD.



Five-of-a-Kind: Yahtzee!

So, last night the AGS Award winners were announced and the biggest winner was Yahtzee, taking Best Game, Best Story, Best Non-Player Character and best Animation for Trilby's Notes and best non-adventure for 1213.

Also doing well was Dave Gilbert, whose commercial games The Shivah and The Blackwell Legacy won best dialogue and best character art respectively, as well as winning the Lifetime achievement award for himself.

Wandering Adventures, Erin 'The Ivy' Robinson, Vince XII and buloght all won two awards apiece and Grundislav, Infamous Adventures, Obi-Leo and SSH also took home prizes. Reactor 09, which garnered 9 nominations somehow managed to miss out on winning any, however.

For the full list of winners and nominees, check the AGS Awards site.



Playable section includes all new demo-specific content

For those waiting on the upcoming US or UK release of Runaway 2, a demo is now available to help pass the time. In fact, even those who have picked up the early release of the game in limited English-speaking territories might want to check out the demo, as it contains some all-new content not found in the full game.

The demo casts players in the familiar (to those who played the original) role of Brian Basco, who must explore the chilly Alaskan wilderness to find antidote ingredients to cure his poisoned friend Joshua. The scenario is based on events in the actual game, but the puzzles have been reworked, the solution is different, and new dialogue has been recorded specifically for the demo. The demo also includes a handy video recap of the original Runaway.

You can find the 431 MB demo at standard download sites like GamersHell or WorthPlaying.

For more information about Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle, be sure to check out our recent hands-on preview of the game.



The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball now available for download

They say the third time's a charm, and fans of Sam & Max worldwide can find out if that's true, as the Windows XP and Vista-friendly Episode 3 is now available for purchase.

First released two weeks ago exclusively on GameTap, The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball can now be downloaded directly from Telltale's website. As with previous episodes, the new game can be sampled as a playable demo, and purchased as a single episode or as part of a full season's package. Existing season customers must follow the specific download instructions to access the new game.

Their latest escapade takes everyone's favourite canine shamus and hyperkinetic rabbity thing to the Ted E. Bear Mafia-Free Playland and Casino in pursuit of an undercover mole who's gone missing. Naturally, mayhem ensues in their attempt to crack the seedy underbelly of the goofy-mask-wearing Toy Mafia, who may just be connected to the nefarious mind-control plot that links one episode to another.

To read more about Episode 3, be sure to check out our recent review.



Vivendi claims it will be true to the original series, Al Lowe not involved

Vivendi Games unveiled their mobile line-up for the first half of 2007 today, introducing phone-friendly versions of no less than two Sierra classics that could be of interest to the nostalgic gamer.

In addition to the Sierra classic The Incredible Machine, Vivendi announced the return of an even more familiar franchise: Leisure Suit Larry.

After the release of 2004's much more action-oriented Magna Cum Laude, it seemed as if our favourite loser had lost his adventure gaming skills for good. Today however, Vivendi Universal raised hope by announcing a mobile game that should be known to many: Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail. Vivendi calls it a "return to its roots" for the Larry franchise, and claims that Love for Sail "affords multiple opportunities for interaction with the game setting environment and finally answers the demand that mobile gamers have been expressing for years: for Larry to return in a mobile adventure title true to the original series."

It's uncertain just how true the mobile adventure will be to the original, as the graphics seem to differ much from the PC version. The press release also indicates that Larry Lovage will be the main character in mobile version, not the original Larry Laffer, though the screenshot bears a strong resemblance to Lovage's older uncle. Also, Vivendi hints that portions of the new game will take place on an airplane, which never happened in the original.

Update: Adventure Gamers have been in contact with Al Lowe, the creator of the original games, and have got confirmed that he will not be participating on the new game:

"I'm sure they'll do a better job than they did on Magna Cum Laude. And I have had absolutely nothing to do with this production. I didn't even realize that users were demanding a return to adventure games!"

Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail will be released in the first half of this year.

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