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.

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.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus – Compatibility

Ground Control II Title Screen

Ground Control II Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Processor: 1.5GHz Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon
Memory: 256MB RAM
Video: 128MB AGP video card
Hard Drive: 1.5GB
Optical Drive: 24x CD-ROM
Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Yes

Everything with Ground Control II appears to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus – Windows XP Game First Impressions

Ground Control II Title Screen

Ground Control II Title Screen

I must preface this article by stating that the majority of my current real-time strategy game knowledge comes from games that came out prior to the year 2000. Starcraft was a LAN party favorite, though we were known to crack out Warcraft II, Command & Conquer, Total Annihilation, and Age of Empires II. I briefly played Supreme Commander with friends when it came out. When the first Ground Control came out, I had a friend who continually badgered me to play it. He talked like it would change my paradigm with regard to strategy games. It’s possible it may have, had I played it. My friend and I were both in high school at the time with limited money. He wanted me to play his game and I wanted him to play Starcraft instead.

Years later I purchased Ground Control II: Operation Exodus at a used bookstore. I’m not really sure what kept me from playing it until now. Perhaps life just got in the way. I know I picked it up and played it a couple of times but couldn’t really get into it for some reason. Seeing that it works in Windows 10, it’s time to give it another chance.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus is a real-time strategy game developed by Massive Entertainment and released by Sierra in 2004. As I stated earlier, it is the sequel to Ground Control that was released in 2000. The thing I noticed at first glance when playing that makes this game unique is its emphasis on tactics and the elimination of base building.

Ground Control II Pro Tip

Ground Control II Pro Tip

In Starcraft, Command & Conquer, etc., a certain quantity of a needed resource is provided on the game’s playfield. When that resource is extracted, it can be used to build buildings in the player’s base and from those buildings construct various unit types to be used in combat. Ground Control II gets rid of this by giving you a starting number of units and then giving the player what are called acquisition points. Acquisition points are granted whenever a player overtakes another player’s capture point or drop ship base. When enough acquisition points are accumulated, the player may use them to purchase units that are delivered via drop ship to their own drop ship base. If a player has no drop ship base, there is no way for them to spend acquisition points. This makes Ground Control II more of a hybrid between games like Starcraft which is truly a real-time strategy title and something like Myth where starting number of units in battle is finite, which falls squarely into the real-time tactics genre.

Drop Ship Location

Drop Ship Location

There are some interesting concepts introduced in Ground Control II that I have not seen in other real-time strategy games. Infantry units, while weak like in many real-time strategy titles, can be sandwiched in all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect on the map. They can be hidden inside buildings, or hide out in forests. Directing a tank can be unwieldy. Blindly right-clicking in a direction may or may not work, depending on what the unit thinks your direct orders to it were. Whenever I tell an infantry unit to move, however, it always seems to move. Infantry can just go anywhere and squeeze into any place. They are easily underestimated, and a delight to use to come up with improvised strategies. The player may also use acquisition points to call in air strikes on enemy base locations. The air strike takes a certain amount of time to occur after it has been ordered. Be careful you don’t blow up your own units when you use it.

The tutorial is fairly boring to play through – it actually put me to sleep the first time I played through it – but it is quite informative. I would recommend starting there if you are new to the Ground Control series. Some of the things discussed apply across all real-time strategy games, but others do not. I recall jumping in without the tutorial one of the times I tried to pick Ground Control II up and being a little confused.

Capturing Their Drop Ship Location

Capturing Their Drop Ship Location

Of course, if you like playing games with the sound turned on, you may be confused anyway. The units under the player’s command will talk like they are completely out-numbered, surrounded and about to be slaughtered when they first witness an enemy unit a hundred yards away. It gets frustrating microing units on one side of the map, feeling like you are doing pretty good as the enemy is on the run, and then hearing chatter like you are losing the entire game due to one little unit from the enemy making its way across enemy lines on the other side of the map. At least I learned to ignore those sounds once I had played the tutorial.

And Their Main Base

And Their Main Base

In my gameplay thus far, the Empire has come back from Earth to reestablish control on their former fringe colonies that have since flourished in their freedom from the Empire’s oppressive rule. In the first campaign, the player plays as the resistance forces of the Northern Star Alliance working to remove the Empire from their worlds. In the second level of this campaign, a UFO crashes into the capital city of the Northern Star Alliance, Morningstar Prime. As the game progresses it appears the player may also play a campaign as an alien race. I’ll need to play through Ground Control II, and Ground Control for that matter, and then review further to know more about what happens.

Ground Control II game disc

Ground Control II game disc

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus has mostly been a forgettable and largely uninspiring experience for me thus far. Its plot and gameplay mechanics are interesting. Its cutscenes are well made. The graphics and sound are alright. As far as science fiction real-time strategy games released by Sierra go, this one blows Outpost 2: Divided Destiny out of the water. But Ground Control II is missing that spark for me. When the infantrymen die in the unmoving cutscenes, I feel like I am watching clay figures or toy soldiers; I don’t have any emotional feelings for these polygonal people. The character’s chatter feels canned. I have yet to receive satisfaction from the game telling me I did a job well done. The only satisfaction received from this game is beating the level and flanking the enemy. It could be for this reason that playing the multiplayer mode would be far better than the single-player campaigns. If I can find someone to play with me, I’ll give that a try. Until then I would only recommend Ground Control II to collector’s who must have every game, and strategy buffs who feel they must beat every real-time strategy title.

Bad Mojo – Compatibility

Bad Mojo Title Screen

Bad Mojo Title Screen

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes.
  • Runs – Yes.
  • Uninstalls – Yes.*

At first I thought there was no uninstaller because it is not included with the game shortcut under the Windows Start menu. But the uninstaller can be found at C:\Program Files (x86)\BADMOJO\UNWISE.EXE. I guess they wanted to make it harder for people grossed out by this game to remove it before they had fully discovered its charm.

Bad Mojo – Windows XP Game First Impressions

Bad Mojo Title Screen

Bad Mojo Title Screen

Bad Mojo is one of those games that I really wanted to enjoy. When I purchased it, I found it in the jewel case bargain bin section of my local Wal-Mart. Plastered in large lettering across what seemed like the bottom third of the packaging was a PC Gamer Editor’s Choice logo informing the buyer that Bad Mojo had been critically acclaimed by my favorite games magazine. There were quotes all over it I recall saying that it was “Fresh” and “Original.”

Originally released in 1996, this game was enough of a success they believed they could re-release it in 2004. Bad Mojo is an exploration adventure game with puzzles that uses Quick-Time graphics, much like the Myst series or other full motion video games of the 1990s. In most of these types of games, you travel to exotic destinations, see amazing sites, and enjoy the extent of what a full multimedia experience could provide. What makes this one original, however, is that you play the role of a cockroach.

Full Motion Video for the win.

Full Motion Video for the win.

Bad Mojo begins with a cut-scene where the protagonist Roger Samms is packing up to get ready to leave for Mexico after successfully stealing a briefcase full of cash. While ogling his ill-gotten gains, he is startled by a knock on the door. His landlord Eddie comes by to demand Roger’s overdue rent. After a seemingly needless argument with Roger refusing to pay and Eddie suspecting he’s about to leave town, Roger pays the rent he owes Eddie. Eddie jokes with Roger that he ought to be careful with all the cash he has lying around, that he should “lock-it”. After closing the door and sitting down to his desk, Roger remembers a locket that belonged to his mother, pulls it out of a desk drawer, and somehow the locket then turns his soul into a cockroach.

Roger Samms doing the cockroach.

Roger Samms doing the cockroach.

Gameplay then begins. The player is transported into a stage selection room that contains six passages. Only one is open. Entering through the open passageway brings the player up through a drain onto a concrete floor with icky stuff all over it. The player can move using the arrow keys. Pressing the up arrow moves the cockroach forward while pressing the down arrow moves the cockroach backward. Pressing either the left or right arrow key will turn the cockroach around.

One of the exotic scenes you'll encounter on your journey.

One of the exotic scenes you’ll encounter on your journey.

Bad Mojo runs using Quick-Time as many adventure games in its genre have. Each screen is almost its own game. There is little state saved from screen to screen. Moving off of one screen and then back essentially resets the state of the screen. This in some ways makes it easier to master a given screen, while at the same time making movement from screen to screen frustrating. When moving in one direction from a previous screen, it is possible to be pointing in a different direction when the screen changes. If there is a dangerous item, such as fly paper, on the other side of the screen, it’s easy to walk right into it if you are not careful.

Bad Mojo takes a strong stomach.

Bad Mojo requires a strong stomach.

Bad Mojo is an impressive game. I don’t wish to give anyone the impression otherwise. The graphics are actually fantastic and spot-on for the time it was released. The sounds are well recorded too. There is a certain art to this game and a great deal of realism that cannot be denied. But it’s just so icky and gross!

During the beginning cut-scene Samms narrates his feelings on his life and his circumstances. After listening to his rant, I feel completely apathetic to his cause. While he says he’s tired of life stepping on him and he wants to take control of his life and get his payback, he admits to stealing a lot of money, thinks he should have gotten away with it, and is a complete jerk to everyone around him. Even before the game began, I just wanted to step on the little twit. And yet, the whole purpose of the game is to go through six stages of nasty to free him from his cockroach prison. If the game weren’t so gross, I would actually get some satisfaction in seeing him eaten by a spider or a dead rat. As it is, Bad Mojo makes me feel queasy and I’m scared when entering each screen of what disgusting thing I will witness next. I tend to be a very clean, orderly, organized person in my own life, so navigating through this game makes me wish I could just take some disinfectant wipes and Raid to the whole game. That would be winning.

Bad Mojo game disc.

Bad Mojo game disc.

Bad Mojo won several awards for original gameplay and unique puzzles when it was released. It is visually and audibly impressive, and it will certainly leave a lasting impression on anyone who plays it. If you have a strong stomach and you like graphical adventures it might be a game to check out. For me, I think I’d rather play something from The Journeyman Project or Myst series any day.