Psychonauts – Compatibility

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts Box Art

System Requirements

Linux

Processor: 2.0 GHz or higher
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: 128MB Video RAM with OpenGL 2.1 compatibility
Hard Disk: 6 GB
glibc 2.7+ required. Binary is 32-bit.

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later
Processor: Intel Core I Series Processor
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: ATI HD 3870 or Nvidia 8800GT or better. 512 MB Video RAM required.
Hard Disk: 4 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 2000/XP or higher
Processor: 2.0 GHz Pentium IV or AMD Athlon or higher
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Video: 128 MB GeForce FX 5600 or ATI Radeon 9600 or higher, DirectX 9 compatible.
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card
Hard Disk: 6 GB

Windows 10

The Steam version of this game appears to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

Psychonauts – Windows XP, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.6 Game First Impressions

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts is a 3D-platformer action adventure game developed and published by Double Fine Productions. The original boxed version for the PC was published by Majesco Entertainment. First released in 2005, its story was written and directed by game design legend Tim Shafer.

The player begins Psychonauts playing as Raz, an adolescent who runs away from his parents to attend the secret Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp in order to learn how to use his psychic powers to become a Psychonaut. Since he is there without parental permission, he is only allowed to train at the camp until his parents arrive to either pick him up to take him home or grant permission for him to continue his training there. While Raz is eager to complete his training more quickly than his parents are able to arrive, most of his fellow camp residents are apathetic to the goals of the camp coaches and just want to go home. When Raz begins to demonstrate his abilities, some attempt to impede his progress.

Getting ready to attend "Basic Braining"

Getting ready to attend “Basic Braining”

Those familiar with Tim Shafer’s other games such as Full Throttle and Grim Fandango will note the same signature charm in the story, dialog, and artistic nature of Psychonauts. However, unlike those previous games, Psychonauts is a true action 3D-platformer, not a relaxing point-and-click adventure game. This makes sense given that a version of the game was also released for the XBox and Playstation 2 game consoles.

A piece of mental baggage.

A piece of mental baggage.

The first forty minutes of the game consists of cut-scenes introducing Raz and the characters at the camp and a tutorial on how to successfully implement the mechanics of the game across an obstacle course known as “Basic Braining.” The controls are a little awkward to get used to for a PC gamer utilizing the mouse and keyboard. I have played many more PC titles in the same genre that felt like they had much better controls. That being said, the effort to learn the awkward controls felt worthwhile in order to progress further into a rich, compelling game.

Swinging on poles was challenging until I learned you're supposed to press the direction arrow at the same time you jump

Swinging on poles was challenging until I learned you’re supposed to press the direction arrow you want to move in at the same time you jump.

Once through the tutorial, it is apparent that Psychonauts is a vast game with a great deal of depth to it. The player may press the “Esc” key to access the game’s journal. The journal keeps track of the quests the player has been sent on, any key game information the player needs, player stats, and games may be saved and loaded from the journal as well.The game may be saved at any time the player accesses the journal; there are no pesky save points.

Then there are these tightropes. A little tricky.

Then there are these tightropes. A little tricky.

Every few moments at the beginning of playing Psychonauts there is something new being introduced. I sometimes hate writing first impressions articles on games like Psychonauts because I feel like I haven’t spent enough time playing yet to adequately describe the essence of the game as a whole, but only a sliver of the tip of the iceberg. The character acting and animation are phenomenal. The game does a good job introducing the player to a large, bizarre story world a little bit at a time to keep it all fresh, interesting, and fun.

But the trapeze was the most challenging of all.

But the trapeze was the most challenging of all.

Psychonauts includes a little something for everyone it seems. Collecting various items throughout the game allows the player to level up their character’s abilities. There are pieces of mental baggage to find and sort through. I felt all sorts of good when I received my first merit badge and could score more as the game progresses. Psychonauts is a challenging 3D platformer, and provides an intense, deep story for adventure gamers as well. This seems to be a classic in every sense in my gameplay so far. I’m eager to continue playing through Psychonauts to really see how good it is.

Oxenfree – Compatibility

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750, DirectX 11 required.
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Oxenfree – Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

I saw Oxenfree pop up in ads on Steam and GOG for some time and wound up getting it on both platforms during two separate specials. It seems like this game has developed quite a following and from the little time I have played through it, it is easy to see why. Oxenfree is a graphical, point-and-click adventure game released in January of 2016 on Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11. It was developed and published by Night School Studio.

The player character plays the role of Alex as she goes along with her friends to camp and party for the weekend on the beach of Edwards Island. Alex’s friend Ren takes her and her new stepbrother Jonas on the last ferry of the day to the island. When they arrive, they meet up with Clarissa, who once dated Alex’s brother, and Nona who is Clarissa’s best friend.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Oxenfree relies heavily on auditory methods to tell its story. Even more so than most adventure games, I would advise using a pair of earphones since dialog is everything in this title. The primary game mechanic in my gameplay thus far has been how I chose my dialog when interacting with non-player characters. If you don’t choose your dialog quick enough, your option to say anything in the context of the moment disappears. If you choose your dialog too quickly, it seems like the game actually allows you to talk over people, a clever mechanic. Already around thirty minutes into the game, I want to go back and replay it. There appears to be so much rich story here that I want to continue through many, many hours of gameplay.

The party at the beach.

The party at the beach.

In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge there was a percentage notification that would tell you how far you progressed in the game each time you saved it. This progress indicator would continually depress me the further I progressed in the game because I was sorry that the game would eventually be over. I haven’t seen such a progress indicator bar in Oxenfree, but thus far it has provided me that same feeling of sadness that the game as I have been enjoying it will at some point be finished.

The game designers intentionally developed the story in such a way where the characters have such depth to be interesting in their own right, while holding a great deal back within a veil of mystery that keeps the player intrigued as to what plot twists will come next. Oxenfree’s synopsis on Steam is ominous.

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. You are Alex, and you’ve just brought your new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight island party gone horribly wrong.

I haven’t gotten to the ghostly rift part yet, so I hope Oxenfree retains all the charm and intrigue it has managed to muster thus far as I continue to play it.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

One frustration I have had while playing Oxenfree is with understanding the controls. To my knowledge I never saw any tutorial on what button to press to interact with objects within the environment. Once I understood that I needed to stand in the right place and press the Spacebar, things became a lot easier. To the game developer’s credit, they labeled every object that can be interacted with throughout the game using a white circle. If you see a white circle, then there is an object behind it that can be interacted with. This is a remarkable thing for those who have experienced point-and-click adventure games where you just blindly click every pixel on the screen to progress at some point during the game.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Alex is moved by the player across the screen using the W, A, S, and D keys on the keyboard. The Ctrl key brings up a map of the island, and right-clicking the mouse button brings up the radio. These controls are presented and integrated into the storyline fairly well at the beginning of the game while Alex, Ren, and Jonas are riding the ferry to the island. As I said previously, the player must always be ready to press a dialog option when they pop up using the left mouse button, since they can disappear rather quickly.

Circles indicate interactive objects.

White circles indicate interactive objects.

I have really enjoyed playing Oxenfree thus far and I’m really excited about playing more of it in the coming weeks. I have been burned in the past by prematurely recommending adventure games that I haven’t played all the way through (I’m thinking of you, Myst.), but thus far Oxenfree has been a very intriguing adventure that has set itself apart already as one of the best, fresh adventure stories I have played in the past few years.

Syberia – Compatibility

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows XP or later
Processor: Pentium compatible 1 GHz or greater
Memory: 512 MB
Video: DirectX compatible graphics card. 128 MB.
Sound: Direct X 9.0c compatibility required.
Hard Disk: 1.2 GB

Windows 10

The GOG.com version of Syberia is fully compatible with Windows 10.

Syberia – Windows XP Game First Impressions

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia is a visually stunning, point-and-click adventure game released in 2002, published and developed by Microids. In some cases it was also licensed to be published by DreamCatcher Interactive under The Adventure Company brand. Today (November 10, 2017), it is available on GOG.com for free. Because of the mysterious nature of the game, I am placing a spoiler alert disclaimer here. Although I will only be offering a synopsis of the beginning of the game in this first impressions article, the game developers of Syberia did a superb job at introducing background story throughout gameplay. They divulge plot points little bits at a time to reel the player in, and reward the player with more the deeper the player explores. It is for this reason that I will say this is a fantastic game and if you like adventures you owe it to yourself to download Syberia off of GOG.com and play it without reading any further.

There is so much woodgrain in Syberia.

There is so much wood in Syberia.

For those still here I’ll go over the game mechanics and plot. The beginning objective of Syberia is straight-forward enough. You play as Kate Walker, an American lawyer sent by her firm to secure a deal to purchase the famed Voralberg toy factory in Valadilene, France, known for their automatons. Syberia plays in the third person with a stationary or slow-moving camera, zoomed out on each screen. The default mouse pointer in the game is a circle. When the circle pointer glows, there is a door that may be investigated. Frustratingly, doors that don’t go anywhere will also glow. When you click on these, Kate will inform you, “No need to go down there!” Doubly frustrating is the fact that there are more fake doors than real ones.

No need to look behind this door the game draws attention to...

No need to look behind this door the game draws attention to…

When the pointer changes into a magnifying glass, it is indicating there is a character that may be interacted with. The pointer will change into a hand when hovering over something that may be taken into inventory, and a magnifying glass with a chunk taken out of it indicates the player can use the item underneath the mouse pointer. Inventory may be accessed by right-clicking the mouse. Kate also has a cell phone accessible from inventory that she uses to keep in contact with those in America. This added component really adds depth to Kate’s character.

Some of the screens in Syberia are very large and take a great deal of time for the player to move from one side to the other. This becomes annoying when backtracking across multiple large screens. In order to compensate for this, in most cases the player may double-click in the direction they wish to go and Kate will jog to that location. Sometimes this doesn’t work. I haven’t been able to determine if this is because of a programmatic bug in the game or whether the game developers did not create animations for running in every case required.

The Voralberg Automaton Factory

The Voralberg Automaton Factory

Visually, Syberia feels a lot like Myst, but with regard to story and character, it is so much deeper than the average adventure game. Syberia also scratches the itch of the mechanical gear turning clock punk niche. There is something satisfying about seeing all of the intricate mechanical art. Even though it boggles the mind to even think about how the automatons depicted in Syberia could even work in real life, their animations are inspiring in many ways. Playing this game makes me want to take up the study of mechanical engineering.

The objective of the game seems simple. Meet with Anna Voralberg and negotiate a buy out of her factory. However, Anna Voralberg died shortly before Kate arrives to Valadilene. Easy enough, Kate will simply negotiate the buy out with Anna’s executor. But unfortunately for Kate, Anna’s brother Hans who everyone believed to be long dead is the living heir of Anna’s properties.

Hi, Oscar!

Hi, Oscar!

As play continues Kate discovers that Anna had been in contact with Hans, and that most of the automatons coming out of Anna’s factory were based on Hans’ designs. Hans’ latest designs sent to Anna were for a train and a conductor to drive the train so that Anna might come visit after Anna had closed on the sale of the factory. The first section of the game involves exploring the tiny village of Valadilene, meeting Oscar the automaton conductor, and getting the train and Oscar ready for the journey to Siberia to find Hans to purchase the factory from him. Once this is accomplished, Kate boards the train and her journey begins.

Syberia Game Disc

Syberia Game Disc

Syberia is a game I often come back to when I’m feeling under the weather and need a good relaxing game with rich story to take my mind off of how sick I’m feeling. Sometimes the background music will hit a note that would indicate an impending jump scare in any other game. So far, I have found nothing of the sort in Syberia. It’s entirely mellow and intriguing. If you are a fan of adventure games, I would strongly advise adding this one to your collection.

Battalion Wars 2 – Nintendo Wii Game First Impressions

Battalion Wars 2 Title Screen

Battalion Wars 2 Title Screen

I purchased my Nintendo Wii right before I graduated college. I actually had it set up to host a post graduation party at my then new apartment. The Wii was relatively new at the time and given that I had scored a new software development job, I decided to make the Nintendo Wii a graduation gift to myself. Coming from a computer gaming background, probably my favorite game genre at that point was real-time strategy.

Consoles are not typically known for their real-time strategy titles. There are many reasons often given for this. I have heard it implied that the game pad controllers are not a good fit for strategy titles. This sounds like a cop out to me. I could imagine it may be difficult to provide a good competitive real-time strategy experience between multiple players playing on a split-screen where everyone can see each other’s troop movements. I’m not sure this would stop such a game from being fun though, and many console strategy titles have some very solid single-player campaigns. I wager the greatest historical reason why gaming consoles did not see many real-time strategy releases was due to the lack of online multiplayer capability.

Empress Lei-Qo of the Sun Empire.

Empress Lei-Qo of the Sun Empire.

I remember the first time I saw a gaming console play a multiplayer real-time strategy game. The game was Command & Conquer: Red Alert on the original Sony Playstation. Two of my friends had hooked their Playstations together using a link cable and were playing two separate sides on two distinct television screens. This seemed ground breaking for consoles to me at the time, but in truth I already owned Starcraft on the PC and was playing it on Blizzard’s Battle.net nearly daily with millions of people around the globe.

Anglo Military Intelligence is second to none!

Anglo Military Intelligence is second to none!

I was a little conflicted on whether I should purchase a Nintendo Wii. On one hand, everyone who had one seemed to be having a lot of fun with it. The Wii-mote controllers were incredibly novel, and worked well. I played extensively with a Wii my friend had. We had some great late-night experiences playing mini-games of Wii Play, Wii Sports, and WarioWare. The Wii seemed like a remarkable party console, and one I wanted to collect for eventually, but wasn’t sure if I needed one right then.

Player begins controlling one person as in a third-person shooter.

Player begins controlling one person as in a third-person shooter.

I don’t know how I heard of Battalion Wars 2. Somehow I think I was complaining that there weren’t enough strategy titles for game consoles. The first game console I had ever purchased was a Sony Playstation 2. One of the first titles I purchased for it was Goblin Commander, a real-time strategy title that was published for the Microsoft XBox and Nintendo Gamecube as well. I figure I must have complained to the right person who encouraged me to look into Battalion Wars 2. I read several positive reviews, and that’s how I got sold on purchasing a Nintendo Wii.

Take command of multiple types of units.

Take command of multiple types of units.

While Battalion Wars 2 used to have the ability to play multiplayer over Nintendo’s Wifi platform, this service is no longer operational. These days a gamer has to be satisfied with its single-player campaign if they wish to play it. In spite of this limitation, I have experienced a great deal of pleasure replaying Battalion Wars 2. Battalion Wars 2 is a real-time tactics game for the Nintendo Wii and was released in 2007. It was developed by Kuju Entertainment and published by Nintendo.

Battalion Wars 2 takes the approach of being an action/strategy hybrid. The game tutorial begins with the player controlling a single commander unit. This commander may be freely moved around the game field from a third-person perspective. The player may target enemies and fire upon them as if they were playing any other third-person shooter console title.

Hopping into a tank and shooting anti-aircraft missiles is fun.

Hopping into a tank and shooting anti-aircraft missiles is fun.

As the player progresses through the tutorial they encounter other units that they may then recruit and command. This opens controls for the player to command units while simultaneously dodging enemy fire and engaging in active combat along-side the player’s troops. In the first mission, the player is then taught to view the battlefield from a bird’s eye view in order to better command the troops under their command.

Battalion Wars 2 is specially designed for the Wii to best use its controls. It never attempts to be another Starcraft or Command & Conquer. It is Battalion Wars 2, and it’s really good at it. There are five different single-player campaigns that may be played: the Solar Empire campaign, the Western Frontier campaign, the Anglo Isles campaign, the Iron Legion campaign, and the Tundran Territories campaign. In my first few missions playing the Solar Empire campaign, I realized how much I had forgotten of the storyline in the ten years since I last played, but have been greatly impressed with how well the game has held up in those years.

The player can get a bird eye's view of the battlefield.

The player can get a bird eye’s view of the battlefield.

The design choices of the races in the campaigns of Battalion Wars 2 are interesting. The Solar Empire, clearly framed as a force of good and light through the beginning of the game, appears to be modeled in many ways after Japan, while their immediate enemy in the first campaign’s missions is the Anglo Isles whose characters are clearly of English decent. Given that this is a Japanese strategy title dealing with military themes, it’s probably one of the few games I have seen provide a Japanese take on modern military politics providing a different view in a genre typically dominated by developers with a western cultural background.

Battalion Wars 2 Game Disc

Battalion Wars 2 Game Disc

There is so much more to be said about Battalion Wars 2 that I will need to save for a more in-depth review. This is in my opinion one of the best titles on the Wii. I purchased a Wii to play this game, and ten years later I have not regretted it. If you come across Battalion Wars 2 and you are a fan of tactics and wouldn’t mind a little action mixed in, I would highly recommend it.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Compatibility

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Intel Pentium compatible 133MHz
Memory: 32MB RAM
Video: 1MB PCI Graphics Card, supports DirectX
Sound: “All major sound cards” says it right on the packaging. Not sure what “major” means in this case.
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Hard Drive: 170MB

Windows 10

Installs – Yes
Runs – Yes
Uninstalls – Yes

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven appears to run flawlessly in Windows 10.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven is a Windows 95 role-playing game released in 1998. It was developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. The game has a Doom-like 2.5D graphics engine the player may use to traverse and interact with the in-game world. The beginning cutscene’s story is simple. All sorts of monsters are invading and terrorizing the land. Some heroes run away from certain doom and are aided by a wizard. These are dire times, and those who are able to stand must somehow be part of the Mandate of Heaven. Obviously I will need to play further into the game to unveil the mystery of these things.

Create Party Screen

Create Party Screen

After character selection is completed, the party begins their quest in front of a town. There are a great number of townsfolk there that can be talked to as in most RPGs. I went to talk to a peasant who said they didn’t want to talk to my party and I discovered there is a “Beg” mechanic. Apparently you can beg a person to talk to you. Even stranger was that while I was having Serena, my party’s most diplomatic and charismatic member do all the talking, she often had to beg too. With a goddess-like personality rating of 18, she did receive far more positive responses. Funny enough, whenever she would approach anyone she would say, “Hey you!” I guess when you have a personality of 18 you can just say anything and people will want to please you.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He'll give you some gold.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He’ll give you some gold.

The first thing you will want to do when playing Might and Magic VI is enter the local inn. It is to the right just as you enter town. There you’ll want to talk to a Andover Potbello and tell him about a letter. He will give you 1,000 gold pieces and tell you to scram. Spend this money quickly, because you will lose it when you die.

I decided to adventure around the outskirts of town to check out the goblin critters the townsfolk had been complaining about. Once an enemy is triggered to spot and follow you, I don’t know how you can get them to ever stop following you unless you have killed them or they are dead. I went a little too close to the goblin camp outside of town and around ten goblins followed me back into the city. I did what any sane role-playing game adventurer would in my predicament and hid behind the peasants hoping the goblins would be distracted and attack them. No dice. I ran all over town trying to get away from the goblins. They would completely ignore the townspeople and come directly for my party. Even ducking into a building for a few minutes and then coming back out had no effect. The party vs. one goblin has an easy enough time. Three goblins on an open field are not too great a challenge for the party either. But much more than that and the party is overwhelmed and succumbs to death. When you die, the grim reaper himself greets your party and says (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re done when I say you’re done!” and the party is resurrected to the entrance of town penniless.

At least Alexis is having fun.

At least Alexis is having fun.

I went out the north, south, west, and east sides of town, and found them all covered by goblins. The only theory I have to adequately begin this game is to get the 1,000 gold pieces and figure out how to smartly equip the entire party for battling a small army of goblins. There are those in the town who will allow you to join the local spell casting guilds for 100 gold each and others who will sell some items to the party.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI has been an almost comical experience for me thus far. This game is polished and really what I would expect from an early role-playing game from the first person 2.5D game engine perspective era. From what I have read, this game was originally released to critical acclaim. The graphics are decent for 1998, and it seems to have in many ways aged quite well. But it seems like I fumble through the game at every turn in ways that I haven’t experienced in any other RPG. It makes the experience feel so terrible it’s great. This is a title I will need to explore further in a Twitch stream segment. To be continued.

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Compatibility

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Pentium 166MHz
Memory: 16MB RAM
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Video: SVGA 16-bit compatible graphics card
Sound: Sound Blaster compatible sound card

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Kind of. Creates an Uninst.isu file for uninstallation via the Windows operating system that works with varied success. Files are copied to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Abe’s Oddysee\”. If you delete this directory and the shortcuts in the start menu, you will have uninstalled the game.