I remember a genre of games that awoke my sense of wonder in the late 80's and early 90's. They were misterious, puzzling and you got absorbed instantly by the stories they told:

Ladies and gentlemen: Adventure and point and click games.

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/* Maniac mansion */
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I was too young when i first played this game. And this one was maybe the first p&c/ adventure game i ever played.

Back in those days we had amber monochrome screen computers - without a hard disk - at school, and, believe it or not, specially younger readers, they were state of the art technolgy.

At first i wasn't sure if the program before me was a serious one (google: wordstar, wordperfect, or lotus 123) or a game. I mean, it had beautiful playlike graphics, but it also sported a command interface that, up to that time, i only had seen in software used by grownups.

I did feel like the smartest kid on earth when i discovered the key under the mat in the front door!

That was the first vg puzzle i ever solved that resembled a situation that one could face in real life. That feeling made me ask myself: am i playing, or am i studying?

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/* Castle adventure */
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A few days after i got hooked up with MM. A friend of mine got me a Dysan 5 1/4 floppy disk that contained 2 memorable things:

- the pong virus. Aa virus that made a little ball bounce all over the black DOS screen. (and that, my dear ones was the coolest thing on earth)

- and castle adventure, a game that i found highly addictive.

Basically all the grapchics are made with ascii characters. My favorite were ascii 001 and ascii 002, the black and white (black and yellow on my screen) smiling faces.

You were lost in a castle and the tagline told the rest of the story:

“You are trapped in a deserted castle and you must escape. It is rumored that the castle is full of treasures. Can you find them all?”

Once you entered the magic words: "A:\>castle" a black screen appeared and informed you that this game was actually made by just one guy: Kevin Bales.

This fact, and the ascii graphics, made all the juniors at my school think that we could make a similar game all by our own. Of course we were too young and had no idea about programming (remember this was before internet).

Anyhow, the idea of making my own version of mario bros, using an ascii 001 smiling face for the lakitu character, made me dream for months.

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/* Zack mckraken */
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At this time i can't recall playing more games of this kind for a while, so maybe i went into a hiatus, or at least my memory did. The next game that appears on my mind is a colourful one, no more Hercules graphics, now we are in the CGA 16 color era! (yes younglings, there was a time when devices couldn't display all the colors human eye can see)

Many of my gaming experience came from shareware, and this game, was, maybe, the first shareware experience at all.

The adventure started in the most mundane setting. An appartment with a couch and a big tv. Unlike MM, nothing made you think anything unusual was happening. That single fact made you investigate to discover which was your quest.

Unfortunately, as i had a shareware/pirate, version, i got stuck in jail because i had not the right codes that came with the booklet when you bought the game :(

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/* Day of the tentacle */
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I can't tell if i played this game on Win 3.11 or Win 95. But one thing is for sure: i had to go back to the dos prompt to ask my godlike computer for:

c:\games\dot>dot

( DayOftheTentacle :) )

This game was great! all the puzzles were twisted and funny and kept my best friend and me wondering for weeks before solving them. They were so obvious once you did!

You have to make it rain, what can you do? well, wash you car! even if you're in the 18th century it will work!

The coolest thing for us was to discover that you could actually play MM 1 on a computer found in one of the games' rooms.

1: We were playing a game
2: where
3: goto 1

We were ecstatic! up to this day i think that was a clever prop.

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/* Sam & Max hit the road */
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Then an unbeliveable device appeared in my pc: let there be CD!

A powerfull outstandig 2x CDR device was the door to all the wonders of multimedia. I lusted for a game called Syberia, that i couldn't get, but instead i got Sam and Max.

If dot had hard puzzles, this game was a complete enigma for me. The cartoonish graphics were more fun and cute that any game i'd ever seen before. And the mini games (e.g. whack a mole) were great. I remember that in the beginning you picked up an ammount of money that was "more that we will ever need" under a desk, and then, as the title said, sam and max hit the road.

With this game one of my gaming reflexes appeared: my body learned to suspend even the slightest breath, when the cd rom started reading. The blinking green square light and the fanlike sound always preceded a cutscene that proved you right and allow you to move forward into the game story.

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/* Phantasmagoria */
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One day i was walking with mom and suddenly a phantasmagoric image appeared before me:

At the distance it seemed like a haunting with its arms opened, but as you got closer it turned to be a elegant lady. It reminded me of film noir movies like casablanca or the maltese falcon, and it seduced me so strongly that
i saved all the money that fell into my hands just to buy it. U$52 i remember, the largest ammount of money i had paid ever.

But the game was worth it!

Te day i finally bouth it i missed class, actually i just went to school to pick my best friend and we managed to escape the conformity factory :) at 9 am.

We ran, and got to the aforementioned store even before the owner opened it. We stared for what seemed an eternity, at the glass that separated us from our desired item, finally the owner guy arrived and we made the transaction.

We took a cab to my home, detoured to a supermarket were my friend bought all the trash food he could pay for, and briskly got into my room, installed the game and lost ourselves for 3 or 4 days in a row.

My school's principal and my friend's mom called expressing their concern for the missing students and the missing son. We got suspended for a week and my friend got grounded for a month, but dude, it was one of the better moments vgs have given to me.

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/* Chzo Mythos */
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Time passed and i can't remember to find any game in the p&c/adventure vein that could enjoy as much as the ones i've already written about.

Now and then i google for new flash games, or remakes of old games, but the most of times i end up completely dissapointed.

A year or so, i found, however, a series of games, that delivered me the same feeling i got playing the Lucas arts classics. The first one was released in 2003, so i guess it classifies as retro a little.

I'm talking about what's been called the chzo mythos.

I would not tell you the complete game story behind the games because it could ruin the experience if you ever play any of them (which i highly recommend), but it's intense and takes many elements of many of the classic 80s horror movies - another point for the retro classification -

Provided that, i only can tell you that i played all the four games (5 Days a Stranger, 7 Days a Skeptic, Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice) in order and was glad to see that although the big companies in the vg industry have lost interest in this kind of games, there is a lot of talented independent developers that can keep this genre alive for the years to come