Top 11 Retro Adventure Games (That are NOT Sierra or LucasArts!) – Part 1

Top 11 Retro Adventure Games (That are NOT Sierra or LucasArts!) – Part 1


Hey everyone, PushingUpRoses here and today
I will be discussing retro adventure games that were not developed by Sierra or LucasArts
because sometimes really good titles get overshadowed by continual nostalgia and popularity of those
companies. Now, there’s a reason Sierra and LucasArts
are more well known than others; they have stand out, memorable games. And this is not up for debate. They do. In fact the reason I was inspired to create
this video is because I was originally composing one on my all time favorite adventure games,
and the majority of them were by these companies, and I thought, you know what? There are so many adventure games out there,
let’s make it non Sierra and LucasArts this time. I chose interesting titles. So when I recommend games I don’t always
do it based on how “good” they are, but rather how appealing I found them, or if they
had elements that stuck with me for a long time like outstanding graphics or a memorable
narrative. Take that as you will, because I am sure some
people out there will be saying “Eww that isn’t even a good game why did you put this
on here?” Because it’s my goddamn list, that’s why. I think we all have an idea on what the creme
de la creme titles in the adventure game community are, so I feel like I don’t need to bring
up every popular non sierra and lucasarts game; you can assume that I enjoy things like
Broken Sword and The Kyrandia series. They aren’t ranked in any particular order. …I mean they ARE listed from my least favorite
to most favorite, but yanno other than that. Number eleven, Black Dahlia When I was young, I wanted to be a detective,
so it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed me even for a little while
that I have quite the appetite for murder mystery games. The Black Dahlia, developed by Take-Two Interactive,
is very very very loosely based on the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as The
Black Dahlia. This is one of my favorite live acted FMV
games because the performances are actually good, and it doesn’t have that cheese factor
you so commonly get when live actors are involved. Why yes, that IS Dennis Hopper you see on
your screen. I’ve come to like a lot of live acted games,
but commonly in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. I wanted to find a more serious FMV game with
a better story and acting that wasn’t as cringe worthy, and I think I found it with
this game. It’s suspenseful and thrilling, and there
aren’t many things played up for laughs, and even the pre-rendered backgrounds don’t
look as fake as ones from other FMV games. *Coughphasntamsogoriacough.* Set in the 1940s,
you play as rookie Agent Jim Pearson, whose first case is to look into some fascist propaganda. As you go around finding Clues, this game
goes from pretty basic detective stuff to really bizarre supernatural stuff. You uncover evidence that suggests that Nazis
are involved with the occult, and might be connected to ritualistic killings. Elizabeth Short IS a character in this game,
but the Black Dahlia refers to a gem that is sought after by Hitler because it possesses
incredible power. When the stone goes missing sometime later,
Jim finds himself immersed in this world of cover ups, murder, and some fucked up shit. Out of all the live acted games I’ve played,
this one successfully expresses drama and scenery in an artsy, more serious way, and
some of it legitimately came across as dark and tense. It’s a dark story, and the game manages
to be pretty consistent in terms of tone; no tonal whiplash to be had. Even the story, which obviously takes a very
fictional twist, doesn’t jar you too much; it’s a nice build. I think the only downfall lies in the puzzle
design; I am not sure why so many adventure games leaned on annoying logic puzzles and
random ones where you’re just…putting shapes together. FMV games are especially guilty of this, and
The Black Dahlia is chalk full of puzzles akin to those. They vary in difficulty, but I could do without. Regardless, I did like the investigation process
in this game, I liked uncovering all of this creepy evidence, and I love the more fantastical
scenes. People always ask me to recommend a live acted
that game that is quote “actually good”, and I always go back to this one. I don’t want to say it’s completely without
trite elements, but it’s not as much trite or cheesy as it is honoring old noir stories,
with the dramatic PI monologuing to himself dramatically as he reflects on the case. It vaguely resembles Gabriel Knight II: The
Beast Within, which is also live acted and has an emphasis on mystery, investigation,
and the supernatural, but that game had its corny moments and inconsistent acting. They also have questionable puzzle design
in common, but The Black Dahlia manages to have a more pressing plot and I think the
acting is worthier of praise. If you liked The Beast Within, you would also
enjoy this game. Even though I found certain parts frustrating
or slow, it’s worth playing. It’s not as well known, and that is probably
because it’s really not available anywhere, so it doesn’t get much advertisement as
other FMV games put on GOG or Steam, but I hope it does become more accessible soon because
I think this is one of the best live acted games ever made, and just in general, a high
quality adventure game. Number ten, Toonstruck This game is just…weird. Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit mixed with the
crassness and similar plot of Cool World and you have Toonstruck. It stars Christopher Lloyd as a down on his
luck animator named Drew Blanc. That pun name never fails to make me mentally
groan. He created this wildly successful children’s
show called The Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show, and has been growing tired of the syrupy sweet
nature of his star character. Late one night after failing to design even
more saccharine bunnies, he falls asleep, and wakes up the next morning to see his show
playing on the TV. He is inexplicably sucked into the screen
and into the fictional world of Cutopia, then learns from his own characters that a new,
evil cartoon named Count Nefarious, voiced by tim curry, is trying to turn all everything
cute and pleasant into something evil and macabre. I’m not sure I see the problem here, but
Cutopia’s bubbly inhabitants don’t care for it, so Drew and his sidekick, Flux Wildly
go on an adventure to save Cutopia. It sounds like a tired premise; in fact there
are some parts that seem identical to Cool World, but it does have its own thing going
on. Honestly, this is what Cool World SHOULD have
been, and I’m applying this statement to both the game and the movie. Lloyd’s acting is great, though a little
over-the-top and I love how his live action sequences are set against this 2D world. It works surprisingly well, Lloyd seems to
fit right in with the artwork and animations. I wouldn’t call it completely seamless but
it did exceed my expectations, especially after playing more lackluster titles like
Harvester. The voice acting is also great since the cast
consists of mostly professional voice actors, including Tim Curry as the game’s villain. The humor is on the adult side, complete with
the cartoon characters swearing and making sex jokes. So this is not something I’d recommend you
play with your kids, even though Cutopia is in fact, adorable. This is literally the cutest thing I’ve
ever seen in my life. It makes me feel fucking sick just looking
at it. The world is stunning, the characters all
have great dialogue, and their movements and animations are top tier. I feel like I am just in some kind of interactive
cartoon; in fact I always feel a little disconnected when the art style is 2D like this, and it’s
also pretty heavy on the cutscenes so it feels more like an animated feature than a game,
but it definitely is, complete with inventory object puzzle design. That aspect could honestly use some help,
but this is a unique title and I don’t really mind grabbing hints for it because the prominent
part of this game is not actually the gameplay, it’s the story, the characters, and the
visual design. I found Toonstruck so fascinating that I choose
it to be the very first adventure game I reviewed for YouTube after I had come back from a hiatus. If you want something just a little bit different
from the norm, something a little off-kilter and you also happen to like slapstick cartoons,
then give this one a shot. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Number nine, Eric the Unready This game, developed by Legend Ent, is an
amusing hybrid of text and graphical adventure, and is loved by seasoned adventure gamers
(and I am using the word seasoned because they are all very salty). I think the games of Legend Entertainment
sometimes get overlooked; but they shouldn’t be. They had a really interesting approach to
design and narrative. Their first games were called Spellcasting,
and…well. Let’s just say I didn’t warm up to these
games or their humor style. Felt like a pornographic Harry Potter. More like Harry HOTTER amrite? This game uses an interactive fiction interface;
you can type in commands, or you can use some premade ones on the side. the settings, from the perspective of the
player, are in a window in the top right. When you talk to a character, a new dialogue
screen pops up, and in between we have little cut scenes that tell the story. The story itself is rather weak, at least
the main idea is: it’s your very basic fantasy damsel in distress fairy tale, with you, Eric,
having to save a princess despite being bumbling and incompetent. Even though it uses cliched tropes, I think
it does it in a comedic, satirical way that pokes fun at itself, and the themes it presents
as you progress. It’s a parody game that knows it’s a parody. I think comedy games are hard to write, but
parody games even more so, because not only do they need to need to be good parodies,
but they ALSO need to be good games, with working mechanics and character development. It’s obviously taking a lot from other fantasy
stories past, and the pop culture references are a-plenty, but even though Eric the Unready
is littered with homages, it holds on to its own story and manages to have a personality. Remember Fable? I discussed that game a few months back. It’s supposed to be a parody game. Heh, supposedly, but it just feels bland and
mean spirited, and it’s not its OWN game. There’s more to comedy than just simple
ridicule, believe it or not. I think Space Quest does parody pretty well,
as you can tell which sources its taken from, it’s never malicious, and it has its own
character and settings that make the game different. I think Eric the Unready is like that; it’s
one of those elusive successful parodies. It’s a lot of reading, as you can see, but
I personally found the writing to be so entertaining that I didn’t get tired of it. It reminded me of other things that conflate
comedy and fantasy, like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or a Terry Pratchett novel,
while the gameplay itself reminded me of an older Zork title. I don’t think it’s as unmerciful as some
of those classic infocom games.The puzzles are tricky, but the game is broken up into
these contained sections where you have to complete certain quests before moving on. This at least prevents the player from having
to backtrack too and cuts down on any confusion from too many active puzzles. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but
it’s easy to play on modern machines since it was recently added to GOG, so why not. Why not go down an outhouse toilet save an
adorable pig from an evil spell. That’s what I always say. Live your life. Number eight, The Last Express Full Disclosure: I played this game because
I enjoy murder mystery, and have a fondness for Murder on the Orient express. My opinion on this game may be biased because
of how much I dig the premise. The Last Express was designed by Jordan Mechner,
who previously designed the Prince of Persia games. There are a lot of neat aspects to this game;
most notably is the art design which was meant to mimic the art nouveau style that was popular
at the time the game’s story was set in, 1914 before the outbreak of World War I. Live
actors were rotoscoped and the result looks…weeeeeird. I’m not even sure it works, quite frankly,
but it’s very interesting to look at and process visually. You know something ain’t quite right with
this character, it’s cartoony, yet walking naturally, like a real person. It’s eerie. It’s not always smooth, either; a lot of
the animations are faded cuts, but you do warm to it as you unravel the story. You play as a fugitive named Robert Cath,
who is suspected in the murder of an authority figure. Your friend, Tyler Whitney, sent a telegram
asking you to meet him on the Orient Express. All right, I’ve illegally hopped this train
so let’s go into Whitney’s room and what the FUCK Tyler??? There aren’t many puzzles, but the puzzles
that do exist in this game involve dumping a dead body out of the train’s window and
watching bounce along the ground. This reminds me of an episode of Murder, She
Wrote, where there is a slightly dramatic murder scene that establishes the rest of
the episode and everyone’s like.. A LITTLE sad, but seconds later no one gives
a shit and it’s like “All right time to find the murderer.” The animations remind me of those bizarre
wikihow illustrations. Step 1. Discover the corpse of your dead friend. Step 2. Have a moment of mild grief. Step 3. Pick up corpse. Step 4: Throw that shit out the window. This isn’t your problem, you didn’t ask
for this. You take Tyler’s vest and pretend to be
him the rest of the journey and end up getting tangled in a web of politics, lies, and romance. The game is non-linear and has real time events;
and this is crucial to how you play the because you can easily miss important interactions
and conversations. It’s similar to The Colonel’s Bequest
in the way that there aren’t many inventory object puzzles; the idea of the game is to
listen to conversations and figure out everyone’s motives. It’s not completely devoid of puzzles, you
do have to find certain objects to push things along, but the emphasis is on eavesdropping. There are also some action sequences. Well. …I…I guess you could call it action. This game didn’t do too well when it was
released, and I can kind of see why; people didn’t quite warm up to the non linear game
mechanic and real time events, I admit that even I felt slightly overwhelmed and concerned
about missing information or having to go through tedious stints of trial and error,
but it does get very fun and I think this game is essential for any murder mystery lover. There is also a rewind mechanic if you do
feel like you missed something, which is so very Jordan Mechner. I really couldn’t put this down when I covered
it for a review years ago; I was impressed by how elegant the train setting looked, and
how closely it resembled the original Orient Express. This makes sense because the designers based
it on an old wooden car they had found abandoned in a trainyard in Athens. I wouldn’t put this up there with the classics,
but it’s a noteworthy game that did a lot of cool things, and I think the amount of
work and creativity that went into this project should be commended. Number seven, Return of the Phantom Did you know Microprose had an adventure game
division for a short period of time? Well, now you do. Return of the Phantom is a point-n-click based
on The Phantom of The Opera. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have to explain
that seeing as though Phantom stuff is extremely popular, but you never know. And now, another childhood memory with pushinguproses! When I was young, the hip place to be was
at my Aunt’s house, playing her awesome computer. We went over there for Easter Sunday, and
having no interest in Easter, I went to the basement to use the computer. I discovered the CD for Return of the Phantom
on her desk, and was intrigued by the fact that it was an adventure game, I booted it
up and started playing it. Unfortunately, I was scared of everything
as a kid. I got to this part of the game where you see
a shadowy figure following us, and turned it off immediately. I then ran upstairs and stuffed my face with
chocolate marshmallow eggs to quell the trauma. This has been another childhood story with
PushingUpRoses! Eventually I got past my fear of shadowy figures
and picked the game back up. In this loosely adapted Phantom story, you
play a detective named Raoul, and your job is to investigate an incident at the Paris
Opera house: The chandelier fell during one of the shows, somehow not killing anyone. But it almost did, so we’re here to figure
out if this was an accident. After doing some brief looking around and
interrogation, we decide that it was indeed, a ghost. When a murder happens, we try to find this
so called opera ghost, but instead he finds us and tackles us off a catwalk. We are then sent back in time, when the opera
ghost previously terrorized the opera house, and it’s our job to change things in the
past to fix things in the future. So the premise is not canon, but it IS full
of familiar characters like Christine and Madame Giry. This is a very short point and click, and
it’s a little hokey, but I think it’s great fun, and on top of that the game looks
stunning; everything from the animations which are smooth and expressive, to the different
settings. Now, the voice acting? It’s…not…good. It sounds like everyone recorded their lines
in a tin can, and Christine’s voice is particularly grating, but this is a fun game. I really love replaying this one from time
to time. It is far from perfect, but I think the story
they created oddly fits the original Phantom story. Obviously you’re not going to find time
travel anywhere, but somehow, the original story combined with this weird as shit time
travel narrative worked well for me. I think this game is especially fun if you’re
a Phantom fan. It doesn’t make such egregious mistakes
that dedicated fans would dismiss it, and it plays well and looks amazing, so I it would
also work for non fans who just want a fun adventure game. Remember when I discussed cheesiness just
a couple minutes ago in The Black Dahlia? Cheesy may not have been the right one for
that one, but it IS the right word for Return of the Phantom. It’s the kind of cheese you want, though. It’s not the crappy off-brand american cheese
slices, like the ones that aren’t even Kraft, the ones that are just grocery store brand,
it’s not that. It’s more like a nice provolone. I really cannot get enough of that line, who
says that? Number six, Titanic: Adventure out of Time Have you ever wanted to feel like you were
on the Titanic, just…living out the experience of being on a sinking ship? Well now you can with Titanic: Adventure out
of Time! Imagine having the constant threat of death
on your mind as you travel through this massive ship solving mysteries and finding ancient
books for people. I found this game on a school computer; I
was having a rough patch in high school and was kicked out for…well, for not going,
basically, and sent to an alternative school, and the workload was fairly easy for me so
when I finished, my teacher allowed me to use the classroom’s computer. I was shocked to see an adventure game on
the desktop, I had never heard of it, and I was baffled that anyone would want to make
a game about being on the Titanic. Spoilers: The ship sinks. This is not a game where you are saving the
Titanic or changing the events of what led up to that point; the use of the Titanic is
mostly for having an amazing setting that very closely resembles the original ship,
and then later on for setting a time limit when the ship starts to go down. What you’re actually doing in the game is
figuring out mysteries, mingling with dangerous criminal types, and occasionally helping people. You play as a former Secret Service Agent
Frank Carlson, he is currently living in a dilapidated flat in London after he failed
to carry out missions he was given while on the Titanic. During a raid, his flat is bombed, and he
is sent back in time to then carry out those previously failed missions; so there IS time
travel, it just has nothing to do with saving the Titanic, and more to do with politically
motivated crimes. One of the missions is to find a stolen copy
of the Rubaiyat, which was actually on the Titanic in real life; unfortunately that copy
was not recovered and remains somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. I think the most memorable thing about this
game, beyond the RIDICULOUSLY huge ship you have to navigate, are the facial expressions. This was done by taking still shots of the
actors and just overlaying them on the characters faces – this is NOT an FMV game, even though
I am sure some screen caps of the game might be deceiving, there wasn’t any video taken
as the developers had to design MANY characters, and video would take up too much space. It may look silly at first, but I am rather
fond of it and think it’s a great alternative; some of these characters get quite boisterous,
and that’s when this method really works. The production for this game was long, with
two years of research alone; a lot of thought went into the recreation of the ship and making
the game as historically accurate as possible, and I think the final product really shows
that. It’s actually very similar to The Last Express,
in terms of both having very intricate plots and utilizing that timed element. I like Titanic Adventure Out of Time just
a smidge more, because I have memories attached to it, and I just can’t get over smethell’s
eyebrow. That is a strong brow. Hey everyone, thanks for watching part one
of this Top list of non Sierra and LucasArts adventure games. Please stay tuned for part two, and in the
meantime if you want to watch my other videos, I have a few linked on the screen. These videos are possible because of generous
donations, so if you’d like to support the channel, consider checking out my Patreon
campaign. You can find more details on that in the description. As always, see you guys in the next one.

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