Pointing and Clicking

This week I’ve been helping Alex play Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango on the PS4. This has got my thinking about all the old Lucas Arts and point and click adventure games I used to play when I was younger. Something about the point and click adventure game has always captivated me, and despite having played some games over a dozen times and probably being able to play them with my eyes shut, they are something that I will always go back to.

I’m writing this blog so that I can share my point and click journey, and maybe introduce some new people to the joys of these adventure games.

The first point and click game I remember playing was Maniac Mansion (1987) on the NES. I don’t think I ever actually finished it back then, especially because you didn’t have the ability to save the game and come back to it later. I loved it though and would always regularly try to get to the end. Even with the help of my brother I couldn’t. The fact that it was so hard (to my younger self) meant that I played it even more because I wanted to be able to say that I finished it.

It was only when the sequel Day of the Tentacle came out (more on the later) Maniac Mansion within it, that I finally finished it. I was happy to finally be able to see the ending.

A few years later we for a PC and I got to play Monkey Island (1990) for the first time. As soon as I started playing I was hooked. Guybrush Threepwood has got to be one of my favourite game characters. I think the fact that when I was younger I wanted to be either a scientist or a pirate probably added to my enjoyment of Monkey Island.

This series of games is another that I can go back to over and over and still enjoy the same way as I did the first time. I mean, how can you not enjoy a game that involves a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle?

When I found out that they were remaking both Monkey Island 1&2 I was all over it. Getting to play both games a on a modern console was something that I couldn’t wait to do. The remasters were well worth it, the game was the same it just had improved graphics, and although I still had my PC disc versions, I had no issues buying these brilliant games again. I played them on the XBox 360, and I’ve seen that they are also on PSNow, so I’m very tempting to play them yet again.

Loom (1990) was a game that I came to late in the day. We got this as part of a big box set with other Lucas Arts games.

This game is a little different to the other point and click adventure games in that it is based around musical notes rather than the traditional type of puzzles with items.

I feel like if I played this when I was younger I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much due to the difference in gameplay, but playing when I as around 12/13, I had an appreciation for it and really enjoyed my playthrough. Unlike other games, I’ve only played Loom a couple of times, but I’ve been thinking of replaying it recently so might have to reinstall on my PC and give it a go.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992) was another that I came to late. I don’t even remember when I played this or when we even got it. But, I do remember spending ages trying to finish it and finding that it was one of the most frustrating games that I’d played up to that point. I don’t really remember why, I just know that I got stuck on certain bits and ended up having to put it down, walk away and come back to it days or weeks later.

A few years ago I redownloaded it and had another playthrough, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as I remembered it being. Past me just obviously sucked at it. It’s still not one of my favourites so I’ve not played it more that maybe twice, but it’s still pretty damn good.

The Dig (1995) is definitely high on the list of my favourite point and clickers.

This was another that we got in the box set of Lucas Arts games and was a hit with younger me straight away.

Set in space during a Bruce Willis’ Armageddon style mission to blow up an asteroid headed to Earth, it features Robert Patrick (T2) as the commander of the mission that leads to other discoveries.

At this point in my life, I think I’d moved away from wanting be a pirate (at least for my main job) and wanted to be an astronaut, so this game hit all the right buttons for me.

The story is amazing and the voice and acting and puzzles are spot on. Compared to other games, it’s not difficult but it’s still a really fun game.

It is also by far the prettiest adventure game of that era.

Now to a game that I always think of as more modern, despite it coming out in the early nineties and a game that’s in my top 5, Day of the Tentacle (1993).

I remember getting this game not long after it came out and I was so excited to play it. I loved Maniac Mansion, and although still not having finished that game, I was looking forward to getting into the sequel.

This game revolves around Bernard (from the first game) and his friend Laverne and Hoagie. They get a message from Green Tentacle saying that Purple Tentacle has gone nuts and is tryng to take over the world.

The game itself takes place in a single place (the Edison Mansion) but spans three different time periods and the three characters are sent to different eras, (one future, one past, the other remaining in the present.)

When I originally played this with my brother, it took us weeks to finish it, it makes me laugh that now when I replay it, it only takes me 2-3 hours. Despite being able to play it without even thinking about it, I still love the game. There’s just something about these two games that brings me backtime and time again.

With the release of the remaster on PS4, I had to buy it straight away, and I finished it that same day. Since then though, I must have played it at least another 5 times, and I’ll probably play it many more.

Full Throttle (1995) is just badass. This is one that is high of my list of favourites. It’s a traditional point and click, with similar puzzles to others, but also has the element of getting to ride a motorcycle for parts of it.

This was another that was recently remastered and made available on modern consoles, and was one that came in the Lucas Arts box set many years ago. I actually missed its remaster release but when I saw it I got it straight away.

As a game its good, but what really brings into the realms of great is the story and voice acting (it even has Mark Hamill!)

Grim Fandago (1998) was the first 3D point and click that I played.

Based in the world of the dead, the story follows Manuel “Manny” Calavera a travel agent Manuel “Manny” Calavera as he attempts to save a virtuous soul on her journey through the underworld.

I bought this originally on the PC because of how much I loved the previous Lucas Arts games, and it didn’t disappoint.

It took me a little while to get used to the controls and navigating around the 3D world (damn tank controls…) but once I did, I was hooked.

This is another game where the stellar humour and voice acting allows your trip around the afterlife an enjoyable experience.

Again, this was recently remastered and release on modern consoles, and I’ve enjoyed playing through it a couple of times, and remembering why I spent so much time playing it when I was younger.

Moving away from Lucas Arts, I want to talk about some point and clickers from other publishers, Simon the Sorcerer (1993) came out in between some of the games above, but it wasn’t actually on my radar until I’d had a demo for the sequel. I ended up getting the full game for Simon the Sorcerer 2 and finishing that before I went back and played the first one.

Simon is inspired by Discworld (which had it’s own games, that I’ll come to later), and it shows. The game follows a young boy who decides that he wants to be a wizard and his adventures to become one.

As far as the gameplay goes, it’s nothing groundbreaking. What makes it though is the level of humour that’s in it, and again the voice acting. It wasn’t until years later when I was playing Simon the Sorcerer 3D that I released that the titular character is voice by Chris Barrie from Red Dwarf.

You know what? I don’t think I need to go into great details about Discworld (1995). It’s an awesome game based on the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, mainly around the events of Guards! Guards!.

It follows the inept wizard Rincewind attempting to stop a dragon from terrorising Ankh-Morpork.

It follows the same dry humour as the books and as an amazing voice cast, featuring Eric Idle as Rincewind.

I’m going to finish with the most recent addition to the ‘games I will keep going back to’ list; Thimbleweed Park (2017).

This game was created by Ron Gilbert who made Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island. As soon as I saw that he’d created it, I was in before I knew anything about. It was funded by a Kickstarter, which unfortunately I missed. It’s set in Thimbleweed Park, where two agents have come to investigate a murder.

The plot unravels as you control 4 different characters; the two agents, a game designer, and a sweary clown. As you can expect from the creators of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, it’s filled with a lot of humour and puzzles. It’s not a an overly hard game, but it’s well worth playing and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of games.

I bought it as soon as it came out. First I got it on the XBox One and then on the PS4, I’d probably by it again on PC if I still played games on it a lot.

I recently played it through for the second time, and it’s just as good now as it was when it was first released. The test for me is if it stands the test of time like their other offerings. So if I’m still playing it in fifteen years time we’ll know it’s made it.

I think I’ve gone on enough for now. There are many more brilliant point and click adventure games out there but I don’t have the time to go through them all. I will however, give a few honorable mentions to the below and say that they are well worth checking out.

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