Edited by Steve Jarratt

The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games

Published by Bitmap Books

Dec 03, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


One of my earliest, intact memories from childhood is being hunched around the first home computer I’d ever seen as my uncle and father installed, and then played through the first few screens of King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella. I would have been three years old, and that experience clearly made a firm impression on me – Princess Rosella’s fairy tale world was like one from my story books, and one which you could effectively enter via the game.  It’s arguable that King’s Quest IV would eventually teach me how to read; I would beg my aunt to fire up the game, and then ask her to write out useful commands for me, like “open door” or “eat food.” She’d write the phrases out on Post-It notes and stick them around the PC monitor, including helpful doodles of doors and soup bowls so that I’d know which was which; I’d carefully match her big block letters with the ones on the keyboard, playing the game as best I could until I’d inevitably fall off the castle cliff or be eaten by a shark.

Throughout my earliest gaming years, I was obsessed with the Sierra point-and-clicks. After King’s Quest IV came Quest for Glory, The Black Cauldron, Space Quest II and even, surprisingly, the more mature Police Quest. Once the first computer store opened locally, I would save my weekly allowance to spend on $5 shareware titles, where I’d discover things like the Hugo series. Once I got older and our family bought into an AOL subscription (at an hourly rate, as was tradition in those days) I stumbled onto a demo for Sam & Max Hit the Road, which opened my eyes to the LucasArts library. From then on, I was hopelessly devoted to their output – buying up the budget collections advertised in the pages of the Adventurer and working my way through classics like Loom, Zak McKracken, and Maniac Mansion, and putting new releases like Monkey Island 3, Grim Fandango and The Dig at the top of my Christmas list each year.

Though point-and-click adventure games never went away, they eventually stopped being the focal point of my personal gaming experience. (I can’t point to exactly when that happened, but I’ll blame a string of top-notch PC roleplaying games – Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Planescape: Torment – for stealing away my attention.) What I’m trying to get at, however, is that I’m able to track a large chunk of my life based on which point-and-click adventure game I was puzzling my way through at any given time. Few things trigger in me a greater rush of nostalgia than hearing the tinny, pre-Soundblaster scores of the older Sierra titles. If the existence of a book like The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games is evidence, I’m certainly not alone.

This 400-plus page tome serves as a visual history of the long-lived game genre, covering its beginnings in the mid-1980s through its recent resurgence in critically-acclaimed titles like Broken Sword 5 and Thimbleweed Park. The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games features chronological entries on well over 100 games, featuring at least one full-color still from each title along with a paragraph detailing it place in the adventure game canon. This weighty volume is packed with art and information, including essays about the history and legacy of the genre and several dozen interviews with luminaries like Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango), Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island), and Robyn Miller (­Myst).

It’s hard to imagine there ever being a more lovingly-compiled tribute to point-and-click adventure games. (No doubt it's missed a few you remember from childhood, but with as prolific a genre as this was for more than a decade, it’s impossible to cover everything.) It’s a well-researched and stunningly-crafted book, easily worth double its asking price to any oldschool point-and-click adventurer. We’ll warn you, though: don’t be surprised if you wind up spending a generous sum at GOG.com as soon as you finish reading about gems that you originally missed out on back in the day.

(www.bitmapbooks.co.uk)

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