The return of (old) PC graphic adventures
Though they belong to a genre already considered defunct and inadequate for the mainstream videogames market years by now, adventure games have a glorious past, a past that deserves to be remembered and of course replayed. At the center of a good part of this effort of collective memory there is ScummVM, the already quoted virtual machine which acts like an interface between the feelings and the puzzles from the good old times and the modern operating systems.
As already highlighted before the ScummVM target has immensely grown during time, going from the simple support of the “classic” adventure games par excellence published by Lucasfilm/Lucasarts to a range that virtually includes any single puzzle solving game developed from the beginning of times up to the advent of the (Windows) NT platform. The last videogame engine added to ScummVM within the past days is Groovie, created by the software house Trilobyte for its first title released in 1993, The 7th Guest.
Together with the engine the daily build of December 16 has obviously brought support for the game itself, with an excellent compatibility level except for some minor issues still to deal with. The addition of The 7th Guest to the rich ScummVM catalogue is particularly important, considering that the title won (between 1993 and 1995) any kind of award and was a substantial market hit, selling more than two millions copies.
Born in a period in which bitmap hand-drawn graphics was still the primary medium of expression for the videogames artists, The 7th Guest was sensational for the wide use of 3D pre-rendered scenes, the live-action video clips and above all for the fact that it was solely distributed on CD-ROM, being one of those killer applications that have sped up sales for PC optical drives and have turned to an erstwhile relic the once-very popular 3.5 inches floppy disk drives.
The 7th Guest is a horror adventure made for a mature audience, a succeeding of puzzles, flashbacks of bygone events and than more puzzles. The protagonist has lost his memory but he will find it piece by piece by solving the enigmas the game will bring in front of him and so discovering the background of the events, the mysteries of the “Stauf Mansion” in which the game is set and the story of its owner and toys maker Henry Stauf.
Looking at the future of ScummVM, it’s easy to foresee that sooner or later the other games based on the Groovie engine as well (among which there is The 11th Hour, the sequel to The 7th Guest) will end to be supported by the virtual machine beloved by the long-standing adventurers. The same adventurers can meanwhile enjoy a new ScummVM-powered initiative, that is the release of a couple of historic adventure games on Good Old Games, the retrogaming store that becomes more and more enjoyable as time goes on.
Luckily for who (including me) was afraid of the opposite, the store catalogue ceaselessly grows with new gems from a past that is worth being remembered (and replayed). In December it has been the turn of games from the software house Adventure Soft and particularly the adventure games Simon the Sorcerer and Simon the Sorcerer II, the first two titles of the series starring the teenager-wizard then compared to Monkey Island II for its humour and the quality of puzzles stuffed in it.
Though Adventure Soft have released a patch to make the games compatible with Windows, the versions available on GOG are the MS-DOS ones hence they just use ScummVM to ensure a proper compatibility with new operating systems. The 7th Guest, in conclusion, isn’t currently purchasable if not through eBay, but the retrogaming profitability highlighted by ventures like the GOG one supports the hope, among the long-standing adventurers as like as in those from the younger generations eager of knowing the genre glorious past, to find the game in (digital) stores once again.