Deathkeep

Deathkeep

As I prepared for the excruciating experience of preparing my entry into the Review a Bad Game Day worldwide self-flagellation exercise, I realized two key historical gaming themes: first, the rise of the 3D adventure was not without its failures along the way, and second, the history of putrid games released on the PC is an unfortunately long and varied one. My choice, the promisingly-titled first-person AD&D game, Deathkeep, is an evidential exhibit in both.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

To understand Deathkeep we need to journey back in time to 1987, when Strategic Simulations, Incorporated (SSI), was granted the AD&D license from TSR, Inc. The next seven years were wondrous for the PC Dungeons & Dragons player, as the company released many quality RPGs, beginning with the Gold Box series (of whichSecret of the Silver Blades remains my all-time favorite), the Eye of the Beholderseries, and the later SVGA games such as Menzoberranzan and the Ravenloftgames. I can recall many hours of gaming in the AD&D universe thanks to the talented development teams at SSI. Unfortunately, this review is not about one of those games.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

The AD&D license expired in 1994, which meant that no new development of games using the AD&D ruleset could be initiated, but games already under production could finish their development cycle. This is how Deathkeep could stay alive and be released on April 30, 1996, a full two years after the license had expired. So between the extra time given to the game and the need to make it the crowning achievement – the legacy, as it were – of the SSI experience with the AD&D universe, you would expect this game to well-nigh pulse with energy while still in the box. You would certainly not expect what appeared to be a very late April Fool’s Day prank from the lads and lasses at SSI.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

The game begins with a brief semi-animated (mostly a slideshow that occasionally animates, similar to the early days of graphic adventures) which sets up the quest: Stop a generic AD&D villain from reacquiring his long-lost power by recovering three special Orbs from his ancient lair – his “Deathkeep” – which he raised amidst a Dwarven fortress, and deliver them to an ancient three-armed skeleton creature’s temple hidden within that same fortress. Well, not every game can have an interesting and creative storyline, and the hope of those starting the game was that perhaps the game itself would rise above the “every DM in the world has run this story” plot. Unfortunately, the opening sequence may have been the highlight of the game.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

 

The first real worry that this game might be broken comes immediately after the opening sequence, when you choose your character. Typically in a RPG, a player selects their gender, race, class, abilities, equipment, and so forth, customizing their character and giving it their own unique stamp. In Deathkeep, the game presents a total of THREE characters to choose from: a male Dwarven Fighter, a female Elven Mage, and a male Half-Elf Fighter/Mage. Astonishingly, that’s it. Not even a choice in gender for each character, so if you’re not into cross-dressing but you do like playing Mages, you’re out of luck. At least you could name your character.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

As for the gameplay itself, the control mechanism was efficient enough: you could opt to use your keyboard or your mouse for a full range of motions. Combat was handled by facing the creature you wanted to disappear and clicking on your mouse until it was gone. No real problem, aside from the incredibly chunky graphics, that is. Maps and inventory screens displayed in 640×480, but the game ran in 320×200, resulting in walls with very poor textures, and creatures that looked like they would be right at home in today’s Minecraft but with lower resolution. The whole game was just hard on the eyes, and considering the some of the amazing games that were released that same year, SSI really had no excuse.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

So why was Deathkeep such an embarrassment? The answer lies in the timing of the loss of the AD&D license and what system the game was originally designed to play on: the Panasonic 3DO. Deathkeep was first released for the 3DO in 1995, a full year before the Windows release. The 3DO was a 32-bit video game system whose core processor ran at 12.5 MHz, and whose video output was either 640×480 or 320×240 (on 60 MHz North America systems…50 MHz PAL versions ran much better graphics at 768×576 or 384×288). The game was simply ported over to Windows, with less than stellar results.  Of course, the game wasn’t all that good on the 3DO, either.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

Here’s a little humorous tidbit of knowledge found in the game’s documentation for anyone wondering why I don’t have any screenshots of gameplay: Deathkeep does not permit Windows multi-tasking. Attempts at doing so exits the game. Not a single screenshot utility works, not the standard PrtScn/Paint combo, not Gadwin, not MWSnap, not Screen Rip32, nothing. Perhaps the developers wanted no visual evidence that might implicate them in this sorry mess of a PC-RPG, perhaps not. Truly this is a bad, bad game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2ZKhaexa4E[/youtube]

Deathkeep was promoted as a 1st person 3D game set in the AD&D universe, with “…dungeon delving the way you like it – fast, furious and fun!”  I was one of the unfortunates who purchased the game upon its release (and still have it in my collection of AD&D PC games), and after revisiting it for this review, I am reminded of what I thought back in 1996: This game is neither fast, nor furious, nor fun. It’s games like this one that helped spawn the world-wide “Review a Bad Game Day” phenomena which hopefully will help gamers tell other gamers of some of the pitfalls that await them, while simultaneously presenting an opportunity for us to share our pain with sympathetic readers. So my fellow retrogaming enthusiasts, consider this a solemn warning: should you encounter the excrement that is Deathkeep in your travels, run, don’t walk, away from this game before you suffer as I have suffered!

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 2

Chris Avellone metal

 Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment

Be sure to read Part 1 here!

General Questions About Gaming And Game Design:

What do you think about games that are based around an alignment based system? Are they too limited? How would you enforce the alignment role-playing aspect?

I don’t always believe in a game imposing morality unless it’s part of a franchise (Star Wars). In Alpha Protocol we did away with a player morality bar because in the espionage world, it’s difficult to say whether you’re “good” or “bad,” you’re just out to accomplish your mission and your reasons are your own. I do feel it’s fair if you set up reputation bars for other people, companions, and factions because it’s easier to imagine how NPCs and communities would judge your actions that us trying to judge the player and slap a +/- on it.

I did dislike the alignment system in D&D because it always assumed the player should choose an alignment before adventuring in the world. So in Torment, we let the player be a blank slate and let the alignment evolve (and reverse) over time depending on your actions. We felt that this was a better interpretation of the alignment system and it made more sense in the context of the narrative.

What do you think about the trend that we see in modern gaming where people consider MMORPGs to be RPGs? Is this correct or have they simply not had then chance to play a real traditional RPG?

Advancement schemes are similar, and some of the cause and effect you experience in RPGs is there, and I’d argue the ability to form your own party from other players provides the equivalent of an RPG experience in many respects. You may not always be able to make your decisions and actions felt in the environment because you can’t disturb the MMORPG equilibrium to the same extent as you can in a single-player RPG, but some of the core elements are there, yes.

If you had to remake a classic RPG made by another studio, which one would you remake and why?

SSI Wizard’s Crown or Eternal Dagger because I loved the way they showcased the dungeons and allowed you to develop your character. Pool of Radiance would also be fun (the 1st Goldbox one) as would Dark Sun’s Shattered Lands (which I loved).

What is the most influential yet obscure game you have ever played and why do you find it so important in your gaming history?

Well, in terms of influential yet obscure, that cuts a lot of games out – I feel a lot of the more common games have had a big influence on my designs (Portal, Chronotrigger, Ultima Underworld). If I were to name some “obscure” ones, I’d probably say System Shock 2 is the top of the list (it’s basically a design doc for how to make a great game), Amnesia: The Dark Descent for introducing a challenge mechanism that could simultaneously terrify you, Bastion’s narration mechanics, and Wasteland for proving to me how you could use game mechanics in the context of a “conventional” RPG to make some truly brilliant levels if you took a step back and thought outside the box.

What was your favorite character from RPGs you have worked on and why?

That’s tough, and it varies. I liked most of the Torment cast for different reasons, even Ignus and Vhailor. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Fall-From-Grace, I always enjoyed the premise of a puritan succubus who’s simultaneously the nicest, wisest, and gentlest people you can meet on the Planes. Jennifer Hale did a great job with her voice.

Who is your favorite co-worker and why?

Brian Menze, our concept artist and the lead artist on South Park now. I’ve known Brian ever since the Black Isle days, and he’s been my friend for a very, very long time. We still try and do comic book Wednesdays every week, and the studio would be a sadder place without his presence. He’s brought a lot of characters in the studio to life, and he’s incredibly modest and humble about his pieces, which makes me like him all the more.

Who in computing or video game history has been your idol and why?

Tim Cain, Tom Hall, Richard Dansky, to name a few. Tim reimagined how RPG mechanics could work for me, Tom Hall reimagined how design aesthetics could be applied in unconventional ways (Anachronox), and Richard Dansky never stops being a great guy and helping people.

I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but those are the people that jump to mind. I have the good fortune to work with Tim Cain on this project, and that’s one of my life goals on my bucket list.

First Project Eternity Screenshot

What do you watch/play/listen-to/read while trying to get creative ideas for projects?

Mostly trance music. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while writing a character, I find the words and inner speech of the character I’m writing gets all jumbled up.

Going to see a live show or play I’ve found is one of the best means to stir the creative pot up when I have writer’s block (or even if I don’t). I have a lot of friends in the theater or who play in bands, and watching them live is enthusiastically contagious.

Other times, I immerse myself in research. Often when tackling an area, concept, or type of game, I try to read as much literature and watch as much media relevant to it (example, for Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road, I re-read Damnation Alley again, watched The Road, etc, etc.). When I got back into Wasteland, I started listening to a lot more 80s music, watching 80s movies and even researching 80s commercials to get a feel for the era… I’m embarrassed to say my memories of the 80s have slipped away, so it’s a shock to remember some of the big moments and media of the decade.

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

I always loved the interaction between my party members in some of your previous games, especially in Planescape: Torment. I did not like how rare these interactions did happen though. Do you plan on implementing a more ongoing interaction between the party companions? Have you considered adding interactions that will only happen when you have certain companions in the party?

Yes and yes, we feel companion commentary with each other is a strong means of showing how alive and reactive your companions are – not just to the world and your actions, but to each other’s presence. Plus, they’re fun to write, I certainly enjoyed writing the ones in Torment and would have loved to have written more.

Are we going to be limited in party size? Yes, it would probably make the game a lot easier to be walking around with an army so what we are asking is, what would be the magic number and how can you logically limit the size? Have you considered implementing the hiring of mercenary NPCs?

Party size will be a single player character and up to five companions – or as you mentioned above with mercenaries, you can also round out your party with recruited allies (which you can customize and build in the Adventurer’s Hall).

How do you plan to sell the game once it is finished and live? Retail? Steam? Impulse? GOG?

GOG (DRM-free) and Steam are our digital distribution outlets. We are also going to see if we can work on distributing the boxed version at retail as well, but we have not specific plans on that yet.

Have you considered making certain parts of the game have a randomized value that would add to the replayability of the game? Have you considered randomizing major plot points or the true intentions of certain characters?

Right now, our efforts have been focused on the hand-crafted elements that will make up the spine of the game.

project eternity wallpaper

Will gear be generally usable by most characters or will it require a certain adjustment for use? By this I mean, can a mage wear at least some level of real armor. Also, a dwarf wouldn’t be able to wear a troll’s armor unless he had an armorer make a suit of armor from that troll’s armor. Do you plan to implement that kind of level of equipment realism in the game? Will gear have wear and tear? Will the game offer some level of crafting element?

We won’t restrict gear according to player race. If you find armor, any race can wear it.

Would somebody be able to simply play not caring what the game’s plot is trying to get us to do? What I mean is similar to what’s found in the game Mount & Blade, for which you can pick what you really want to do such as hire one-self out to work for the highest paying empire or faction.

Like an Infinity Engine title, there is a plot, and while we will have dungeons that respawn and events in the world that you can cause to happen through your actions (such as turning a town or city hostile), the game requires some interaction with the plot from the player to progress. That said, we do want the player to feel free in how they approach the plot and feel that they can make the choices they want to make.

Will you give players the option to dramatically change the world in the RPG such as by ending it or potentially creating utopia?

The story hasn’t been nailed down yet, we’re still crafting it. We do want the world to persist in some fashion after the first installment, and even if great changes occur in the first game, there’s still plenty of world to explore in future games.

Would we be able to have our character fall in love with other characters in the game? Do we get to choose this or what if the game chose for us? Would it be possible to start a family, such as in the Fable games or Europa 1400 The Guild?

There’ll be a variety of mature relationships in the game, and you can choose to interact with them as little or as much as you want.

How is time handled in the game? Will the game take the course of a year? Will it take many years with some of the effects from the earlier part of the game affecting the mid and end game?

We’re handling time in a similar fashion to the BG and IWD games. Events happen in more-or-less real-time (real game time, that is, not literally minute per real world minute) except for rest sequences. We probably won’t be advancing time artificially off screen (“Act 1 is over, so X years pass,” for example).

Will the game offer any kind of multiplayer, such as letting our friends take over our party members in combat?

We want to focus on the single-player experience and make sure that’s solid. We don’t have any multiplayer plans at this time.

Would you let players submit translated versions of the game in other languages that haven’t yet been scheduled for translation?

They would most likely be part of the translation efforts if they wanted to volunteer. We’d welcome the help, and we’ve already received a huge amount of support from international fans that would love to do the translations for us (and if you are one of them and you’re reading this –thanks again).

Do you plan on updating the game with expansions once the game is released? How often would this happen? Would players be able to make their own mods or expansions once the game is live and would an editor be made available eventually?

We would like to do this, although we’re still examining how the pipelines for expansions would work. We don’t want to promise something that we couldn’t do until we’d done more research. We recently released an update with our modding views – we like modding, we want to encourage it, but we don’t want to promise it unless we know we can do it, or else we’d do our players and backers a disservice.

Although I have asked about technology already, since this is such a game changer, I made it a separate question: Will this universe have guns or gunpowder?

It has both. Gunpowder weapons exist, though they are single-shot wheellock variety, and are primarily used to give mages an unprecedented run for their money.

Will all the major races be humanoids or will you implement at least one really weird non-humanoid races a major player in this world?

We’ve got a selection of races, both seemingly-traditional and ones that are more off the beaten path. Some of the concept pieces we’ve released (notably the female dwarf) should give some clues as to what to expect from the choices for race in the game.

What’s the major mode of transportation in this universe?

Foot travel is the primary mode of transportation, although occasionally players may find themselves magically transported somewhere. To speed up overland travel, we will implement a map UI so the player can quickly move their party to locations they’ve already discovered. Note that our map UI is similar to what’s been found in the Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate games, not Elder Scrolls or Fallout 3/New Vegas-style fast travel.

What kinds of religions will we see in the game?

This will fall on Josh Sawyer (our resident theologian). More to come on this as the world is fleshed out in future updates.

Open RPG

 

orpglogo

I mean, really, how often have you used a virtual table top? Let alone an online one… Anyway, it seems they can come in quite a bit handy, provided you’re not looking forward to putting your ornate tequila glass on them, but rather using them for some lovely pen & paper RPG gaming with your friends. Online, that is.

You see, them virtual tables provide gaming groups with everything they need to play their RPG of choice without having to physically meet or touch any sort of dice, which might seem quite the antisocial thing to do, but can be very helpful for playing with friends living thousands of kilometers away or for spending some truly productive time at work. Open RPG for example offers players and GMs an integrated environment complete with miniature map, die rollers, chat, data organizer and the ability to run ones own game server, that’s flexible enough to host any game system imaginable.

What’s more, Open RPG is absolutely free to use and you can download it here. A huge variety of plug-ins can be found here, whereas online-gaming maps are available here and quite a few hand-drawn “miniatures” here. Oh, and if you really feel like paying for something you could give Fantasy Grounds a try.

As for us, well, you know, being the happy cheap ass gamers we all are, we could give this online RPG thing a go. The entity behind from the gutter seems to be interested in it already, and rumours have been heard of a Call of Cthulhu session. Anyone interested, please, do leave a comment or drop me a line. Could be fun you know…

Motivation Monday: Bad video game movies

bad video game movies demotivational poster
bad video game movies demotivational poster

Motivation Monday: Bad video game movies

Let’s just be honest with something, when it comes to nerds and geeks and gamers trying to agree on something is as hard as getting a Senate bill passed. It really does not matter what the question is from which Star Wars movie was the best or who has the best gaming console, you will find an argument and a ton of varied answers.

However, Hollywood is to blame for this as well. Far too often you have a video game or even comic book story for that matter that with a little tweaking and good market research can be turned into a hit. Sure, you won’t satisfy everyone, but a least people won’t hate your film. I believe the problem occurs when the suits in tinsel town decide to make a video game movie for those who never heard of the game or even worse when they just take a name and wrap it around a star thinking name power will win the day alone. As a fan of Star Trek I knew long time ago that you start out with a film for the fans and then tweak it for the general audience not the other way around.

It is almost impossible to make a video game movie everyone will love, but if you give it your best and at least honor the source material and not toss in pulp culture crap or a flavor of the month actor you will get more cheers then rotten tomatoes.  But we are not here for the good, we are here for the bad and there are way too many to choose from.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

I remember reading comic book forums about how they hated Kristin Kreuk so much in Smallville and then I heard she was going to play Chun Li and almost died. There was a lot wrong with this movie even if they somehow was able to create the real Chun Li and put her in it, but with Kreuk it was doomed to die a slow painful death.

Dungeons and Dragons

How in the holy hell do you ruin a D&D movie? I mean you take some adventure looking actors, toss in magic, sword fighting a dungeon and a dragon and you win. It’s like finally getting alone time with the girl of your dreams and you ask her to make you a sandwich. Don’t blame Marlon Waynes for this one, they told him to act like that.

Wing Commander

This is another movie that could have been so good and it even had some good cast members but when you have a bad script there is not much you can do. You know you are in a bad place when the cut scenes from the game look better and tell a better story than the movie.

Double Dragon

It’s like Saved by the Bell Double Dragon style, how can you go wrong? This movie suffers from the fate many video games and even comic book movies do and that is adding in too much to the story. The writers could have tailored a simple save the girl story and with good acting and choreography it could have done well, but they go all Golden Child or Mortal Kombat the series on us and ruin it.

Super Mario Bros.

What did I just say about adding too much to a story? You know honestly, I believe if they were to somehow stay true to the Mario Bros. story that people would respect that as abstract and weird of a movie that would be, or maybe not. You know how sometimes taking something that is not real and adapting it to real life can be fun like Enchanted? Well, this is the other side of that coin where you have bad plastic enemies, animated Dinosaurs and jump boots. This is the ninth level of hell; this is the Super Mario Bros. movie.

Not even worth the download

We know Hollywood is blind, deaf and stupid, the Superman movies tells us all we need to know. The problem isn’t the game it is the people and mostly people who know nothing of the game or the gamers who love them. There are a few good video game movies out there, but it could be some time before we get our Dark Knight for video game movies. Perhaps the Halo or World of Warcraft movies, nah.

The Interview: Arthur Lewis

Alienware Armageddon
Alienware Armageddon

Arthur Lewis

The great thing about gamers is that we come in all shapes, sizes and colors and though we move forward in life doing many things, for most of us the gamer inside never dies. When you have a chance to work in an industry that stems from your love of gaming there is not much better than that.

Arthur Lewis is the president of the Alienware Corporation and GM of Dell Gaming at Alienware. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Arthur at E3 where we learned of his gaming background and an interesting friendly rivalry between him and co-founder of Alienware Alex Aguila.

 

Obsolete Gamer: When did you first get into gaming?

Arthur Lewis: The term “Gaming” is all-encompassing.  I started playing video games when I was very young, but my friends and I played all kinds of games as kids.  Games were very, very important.  We played video games (arcade, console, handheld, computer), and we played board games (from games like Line in the Sand to Talisman to Space Marines), role playing games based on fantasy (e.g., 1st edition D&D), the future (e.g., Warhammer 40k), the wild west (e.g., Boot Hill) and comics (e.g., Marvel) – just to name but a few.  My experience gaming has actually taught me a lot and I find myself looking for the game in all I do.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What were your favorite games to play?

Arthur Lewis: This is a tough one because there were (and are) so many, and I’m sure I’m gonna miss a bunch.  From an arcade perspective, my favorites were (and still are) the oldies but goodies:   Asteroids, Defender, Stargate, Galaga, Space Invaders and, of course, Robotron.   Superbowl Sunday on C64 was classic.  You could pick teams from previous Superbowls and match them against each other.  We played this quite a bit.  Pit Fall, Paper Boy, Mario Brothers definitely were played extensively, and all the sport franchises on PCs, consoles and handhelds.

Then on the PC of course it was Quake, Doom, then Counterstrike.  Neverwinter Nights was also a game I played quite a bit.  Then there was a period that I was into RTS games and played games like Civilization and Age of Empires for many years.  Hats off to Sid Myers for such a fantastic franchise.  Civ was a game we really burned out on.  For the past three years, I’ve been on the MMORPG kick, playing Lord of the Rings Online mainly.

 

Obsolete Gamer: Did you know you wanted to do something gaming related or was it more of a hobby?

Arthur Lewis: Gaming was always (and will always be) a hobby.   The fact that it’s also my job is a HUGE plus!!

 

Obsolete Gamer: Talking both with Alex Aguila and yourself we know you have known each other for a while can you tell us about how you first met?

Arthur Lewis: Alex and I have known each other since 7th grade.  We met in Ms. Stamatinos English class I believe.  We went to the same school through high school.  And we’ve been playing different kinds of games together for the better part of 30 years.

 

Obsolete Gamer: We know from our interview with Alex that you two had a gaming rivalry; can you tell us a little about that?

 

Arthur Lewis: It’s not so much a rivalry as it is friendly competition.  We both like to win.

 

Alienware at E3 2010

Obsolete Gamer: Overall who is the better gamer between you and Alex?

Arthur Lewis: I’d say we’re pretty even.  I’m sure there are some games he’ll win and others I will.  He, however, definitely has more time to practice.  And he has more tools.  He has a full blown arcade in his house!!!

 

Obsolete Gamer: At E3 you told us you still had upcoming Temco football matches against Alex. Alex says you still haven’t played him again. When do you plan to have your Temco football face of and who do you expect to win?

 

Arthur Lewis: LOL.  I don’t know.  I think I like the memory of being the last one to win, so I may leave it at that.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like seeing the company grow and peoples response to your gaming PC’s?

Arthur Lewis: One of the most fulfilling parts of our job is seeing the dedication to the Brand by our customers.  And then to see it translate to all places around the world.  It’s truly amazing.  Last year, we launched Alienware into China for the first time.  We had over 400 media show up!!  Every question I got was around “why did it take you guys so long.”  To see the reach our Brand has, and to see how it’s valued in all of the different parts of the world where we didn’t even know people knew us is both amazing and humbling.

 

Obsolete Gamer: How did you feel during the joining with Dell?

Arthur Lewis: I felt a combination with Dell would enable Alienware to do the kinds of things we otherwise would not have been able to do as a closely held company.  For example, over the course of the past 24 months, we expanded our geographic footprint to the point that we are in every major country in the world, and we support 3.5x the number of languages.  I think we now reach close to 90% of the World’s population.  Another example, is we can leverage Dell’s scale to develop PCs that are conceived from the ground up for truly differentiated products.

 

Alienware Booth E3 2010

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about running the gaming division for Dell/Alienware?

Arthur Lewis: What can I say, at times, I have the best job in the world.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What is your opinion on the high end gaming PC market today?

Arthur Lewis: It’s an exciting time, to be sure.  There is so much going on.  There is a proliferation of great AAA titles on the horizon.  Customers are buying their games in entirely different ways from just a couple of years ago.  And there’s a massive installed-base of 100s of millions of gaming capable PCs.   In our industry, high end gaming has been the bridge to many new and useful technologies.  Over the next couple of years, I see history repeating itself.

 

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think 3D is the future of PC gaming?

Arthur Lewis: I do not believe that 3D is “the” future, but it’s certainly an “important part” of the evolution of video games and all video content for that matter.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What changes do you think need to be made to keep the high end PC market going in the future?

Arthur Lewis: We need more connected devices that allow, in a very simple fashion, content to be shared across multiple, open platforms.

Commercial Wars: War of the Sword and Shield

zelda sword and shield
zelda sword and shield

In the age of World of Warcraft the sword and shield still dominates when it comes to roleplaying. Even when you look at a game like Final Fantasy that takes advantage of both modern technology and magic, the sword and shield are still present in one form or another. From my old pen and paper D&D days to playing games like Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege there is something about those type of games that keeps the fans playing.

As anyone knows there are tons of video games that feature not only the sword and shield, but magic, the bow and arrow and a medieval theme that makes us want to load up Lord of the Rings for a 15-hour marathon session. Let’s take a look at some commercials that try to capture that theme to draw you into the game world and hopefully make a sale.

Crystalis: Nintendo

This is classic adventure production at its finest.  You can breakdown the commercial and see how it was done using the technology they had at the time. First you have the hero which you want to look right as far as the costume and weapons. Second you have a basic forest-like landscape, but you blur the backgrounds to give it some mystery and pipe in some shots of what the hero is after. Then you add the destination in the far distance and a shot of the hero approaching the enemy.

Sure, the monster looks cheesy now, but at the time that was pretty good. The special effects were very nice for the time and overall made for a good commercial.

Zelda: Gameboy Color

This is animated but it is done very well for a short spot starting with the pan around and then into the Gameboy screen with the snow falling into the background leading to a shot of Link rushing in on his horse. Believe me, thirty second spots are hard because you have a little less than that to capture the audience and let them know what you are offering.

In this case you kind of expect people to know of Zelda, but still the challenge is there. You get a scene of what the game deals with. Link is searching for something and there will be challenges along the way. This may be simple compared to what we see today, but it was well put together and executed into a fun to watch commercial.

Golden Axe 2: Japanese

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Short and sweet, what is cooler than a Japanese guy dressed in armor wielding a giant sword? Well, alright, ninja’s and pirates, but still this was pretty cool. Honestly, the costume looks good, the sword looked real and we saw just enough before the in-game video to appreciate it without going overboard.

We get to see some cool shots from the actual game and then boom we have our warrior cleaving us in two with that sword again before the Sega logo.

Dragonfire: Atari 2600


Okay, so he does not have a sword or a shield, but when you have a talking dragon (especially with a voice like his) you have to profile it. Now while I do not understand why a medieval dragon is in some futuristic looking room caressing a game cartridge, I do think it is funny that the prince sneaks in like a thief to snatch it.

Not only does the costume of the dragon look plastic, but even the prince looks like he is wearing the princesses sleep suit. You do have to give them credit for zooming in on the stickman graphic of the game though.

Time for Ale

Alight, so we got a look at a few video game commercials featuring the sword and shield. Now you vote which did it best.

[poll id=”14″]

Dead Alewives Summoner D&D skit

So it’s friday, time to unwind and make the good old brain melt.~Honorabili

Dead Alewives Summoner D&D skit

Good chance is that if you’re an old gamer like us you grew up both playing video games and a ton of old pen & paper RPGs. So much braindead shit happens when playing RPGs usually. Dead Alewives made a skit which catches the spirit of that stupidity.

Summoner Dead Ale Wives DM
Summoner Dead Ale Wives DM

Here is my transcript of this heresy!

DM – “Galstaff, you have entered the door to the North. You are now by yourself, standing in a dark room. The pungent smell of mildew eminates from the wet dungeon walls.”

Fridge Raider – “Where are the Cheetos?”

DM – “They’re right next to you!”

Galstaff – “I cast a spell!”

Fridge Raider – “Where’s the Mountain Dew?”

DM – “In the fridge, DUH!”

Galstaff – “I wanna cast a spell!”

Fridge Raider – “Can I Mountain Dew?”

DM – “YES! You can have a Mountain Dew, just go get it!”

Galstaff – “I can cast any of these, right? On the list?”

DM – “Yes, any of the first level ones.”

Fridge Raider – “I’m gonna get a soda, anyone want one? Hey Grimm, I’m not in the room, right?”

DM – “What room??”

Galstaff – “I wanna cast ‘magic missile…'”

Fridge Raider – “The room where he’s casting all these spells from.”

DM – “He hasnt’ cast anything yet!”

Galstaff – “I am though, if you’d listen. I’m casting ‘magic missile!'”

DM – “Why are you ‘magic missile’? There’s nothing to attack here.”

Galstaff – “I… I’m attacking The Darkness!!”

(all laugh)

DM – “Fine! Fine! You attack ‘The Darkness’. There’s an elf in front of you.”

Galstaff – “Woah!”

Blue Eyes – “That’s me, right?”

DM – “He’s wearing a brown tunic and he has grey hair and blue eyes.”

Blue Eyes – “No I don’t, I have grey eyes.”

DM – “Let me see that sheet.”

Blue Eyes – “Well, it says I have blue but I decided I wanted grey eyes!”

DM – “Whatever! Okay, you guys can talk to each other now if you want.”

(silence)

Galstaff – “Hello.”

Grey Eyes – “Hello.”

Galstaff – “I am Galstaff, Sorceror of Light.”

Grey Eyes – “Then how come you had to cast ‘magic missile’?”

(laughs)

DM – “You guys are being attacked.”

Fridge Raider – “Do I see this happening?”

DM – “NO! You’re outside by the tavern!”

Fridge Raider – “Cool! I get drunk!”

DM (sighs) – “There are 7 ogres surrounding you.”

Galstaff – “How can they surround us? I had ‘Mordencaiden’s magical watchdog’ cast.”

DM – “No, you didn’t!”

Fridge Raider – “I’m getting drunk! Are there any girls there?”

Galstaff (angry) – “I totally did! You asked me if I wanted any equipment before this adventure and I said no but I need material components for all my spells so I cast ‘Mordencaiden’s faithful watchdog’.”

DM – “But you never actually cast it.”

Fridge Raider – “Roll the dice to see if I’m getting drunk!”

DM (sighs and rolls rice) – “Yeah! You are!”

Fridge Raider – “Are there any girls there?”

DM (annoyed) – “Yeah!”

Galstaff – “I did though! I completely said when you asked me.”

DM (more annoyed) – “No, you didn’t! You didn’t actually say that you were casting the spells so now there’s ogres, okay?!”

Fridge Raider – “Ogres?! Man, I got an ogre-slaying knife! It’s got a +9 against ogres!”

DM (angry) – “You’re not there! You’re getting drunk!”

Fridge Raider – “Okay but if there’s any girls there, I want to jolt/choke them!”

***

There you have it. That was the easter egg you get when you beat Summoner, making fun of Dungeons and Dragons (Satan’s Game!) and it’s typical players. My friends and I used to quote lines from that for years.

It was made by the Dead Alewives which are an 80s-90s comedy troupe. Click here to find out more about them.