So, you're counting the days until Sam & Max comes out. Crossing them off on the calendar with a big red Sharpie. Maybe even drooling a little. The new Sam & Max game is closer now than ever, but what's a gamer to do while waiting out these last few weeks until Culture Shock's premiere? I have an idea... why not check out GameTap
I know what you're thinking. "She has to say that, she's the PR person." Well, yeah, maybe I do. But I was interested in GameTap long before they had anything to do with Sam & Max. About a year ago, someone on Adventure Gamers
linked to an article about this new service from Turner Broadcasting that would make old games available to today's gamers through a cable-like subscription and on-demand model. I remember thinking then that it seemed like a really cool idea, especially for gamers such as myself who never really grew out of the 90s, and I hoped it would catch on. And catch on it did. A scant year later, GameTap has over 600 games in its vault, original game-related animation shows and other programming are being broadcast through the service, and GameTap has hooked up with two of the year's biggest PC releases, Sam & Max and URU Live. So if you're looking to kill some time until Culture Shock comes out, here are some reasons to check out GameTap.[readmore]Shadow of Destiny
is easily one of my favorite games of all time. Never heard of it? It originally came out for consoles, which is rare for a story-driven game like this one, and it got next to no promotion when it was ported to PC a few years ago, causing stores to keep it in the back instead of putting it out on the shelves. (Not a great strategy if you actually want to, I don't know, sell
the game.) This lack of marketing was a real shame, because Shadow of Destiny is a truly unique experience. You play as a guy named Eike who's stabbed to death in the street in the opening cutscene. Short game, eh? But you're not dead yet. A disembodied voice offers Eike the opportunity to go back in time and try to prevent his murder. Being the crafty fellow you are, you manage to do this--only to have it happen again. Each time you think you've outsmarted whoever it is behind the killings, the elusive killer finds another way to do you in. Eike's quest to prevent his own death takes him further and further back in time, and gets him mixed up in a dangerous alchemical experiment, the disappearance of a local girl, and a search for a mysterious red gem. Is Eike really fighting for his own survival, or is he being used as a puppet to achieve someone else's ulterior motive?
Aside from its unusual storyline, this game's stand-out feature is that it has seven or eight different endings. You can have a perfectly satisfying experience by playing the game only once, but the more times you play, the more you learn more about the larger story and who Eike really is. The story raises a lot of interesting, even existential, questions and I found myself thinking about it long after I'd finished playing. Shadow of Destiny is one of those games you'll dream about at night, it's that good.
What Shadow of Destiny is to me, The Last Express
is to apparently everyone who's played it (which I unfortunately haven't yet). Just yesterday at lunch, Brendan was saying The Last Express had such an impact on him, he sometimes misremembers things that happened in the game as happening to him in real life. It's set on a train and takes place in real time, meaning that rather than standing around and waiting for you to come over and interact with them, the non-player characters go about their own business as if they were real people on a real train. What you see and who you interact with depends on you being in a certain place at a certain time, so you could play this game twice and have two very different experiences. It's a game that makes it onto many adventure fans' "top ten" lists, and has become hard to find, which makes it a great addition to GameTap's library.
GameTap just added The Last Express to their vault as part of "adventure week," along with some puzzle-game classics like The Crystal Key
, Beyond Atlantis
, and Dark Fall: The Journal
. Another new addition is Zork: Grand Inquisitor
, the last (and generally considered the best) of the Zork graphical adventures. Some of the older story- and puzzle-driven series you'll find on GameTap are King's Quest
and Space Quest
, the Myst
games, and the Zork
text adventures. If you like a little action mixed in with your story, you'll probably enjoy Beyond Good and Evil
(another game with far too short of a shelf life) and Heather's absolute favorites, the Quest for Glory
games. One really nice thing about playing these older games on GameTap is that the service's emulator runs them smooth as butter on your PC, no mucking around or DosBox required.
My tastes tend to run to story-heavy games (and the Sims, but that's a topic for another blog!), but GameTap has plenty for people with more diverse gaming preferences than mine, from classic arcade and card games, to fighting, racing, and strategy. Some games have multi-player and "head to head" functionality, so you can play against someone else, and of course this winter the MMO URU Live
, set in the Myst universe, will make its long-awaited debut.
If all this hasn't been enough to suck you into the vortex of gaming goodness that is GameTap, there's one more reason you should check them out: they've been really good to us. Frankly put, if not for GameTap, you wouldn't be seeing a new Sam & Max game this year, let alone six. Another of the ways GameTap has shown their support for Telltale is by setting us up with a sweet affiliate program. If you click through to GameTap from any link on our site (including this one right here!!!!
) and sign up for GameTap's free trial, they'll give us a nice chunk of change. Torn between your loyal devotion to Telltale and your unbridled curiosity about GameTap? This is the best of both worlds! So why not head on over
, mess around with what they have, and check out the first Sam & Max episode, Culture Shock, on October 17. I bet once you get started over there, you won't want to leave...