Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gaming Nostalgia, Part I: Gabriel Knight

I don't play many computer games any more, for the simple reason that I just don't believe they will measure up to the games I used to play long ago.  There are some amazing, classic (read:old) computer games out there and thanks to sites like gog.com they are incredibly simple to play.  I've spent countless hours trying to figure out how to play my old (usually DOS) games without disks, and being heartbroken when they boot up without sound, or with a flickering cursor, or, just don't open at all.

But I've found all of my old favorites on GOG (I could be their spokesperson!  They do definitely need a better marketing director....).  But if you don't have a computer that will easily boot up a CD-ROM with software from the '90s, or if you don't, in some cases, still have a floppy drive (5 1/4, anyone?), then you might have been out of luck without sites like GOG or software like DosBox

I'm starting to play through all my favorites, and I'd like to share them with you.

St. George's Books on Bourbon Street
My first nostalgia-induced purchase was Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, for $5.99.  Gabriel Knight was a classic Sierra point-and-click adventure game with some very memorable--if simplistic--music and some great pixelated action scenes.

Scarily accurate map of New Orleans
Set in New Orleans, amidst a series of voodoo murders, Gabriel quietly lives his life as an out-of-work writer who also owns a bookshop in the French Quarter.  When Gabriel decides to write a book about voodoo, he becomes entangled the dark underworld of New Orleans, and his own destiny.  Sound ominous?

The somewhat dark storyline is balanced out with colorful graphics and hilarious dialogue brought to life by Tim Curry (Gabriel Knight), Mark Hamill (the bumbling detective "buddy"), Michael Dorn (yes... yes, that guy) and Leah Remini (Gabriel's shop assistant and moral compass).  Leah Remini's name may not be familiar to you, but once you play Gabriel Knight, you'll hear her voice on TV and it'll freak you out! 

The game played flawlessly except for one extremely frustrating motion problem.  In one scene, you need to move Gabriel quickly and are timed.  However, if your DosBox cycles are too fast, this could be an impossible maneuver.  There are patches out there to fix this kind of bug, but what I ended up finding was that I could just hit CTRL+11 or CTRL+12 to speed up or slow down the DosBox cycles which worked perfectly. 

If you've never played a Sierra point-and-click game, give this a shot and you'll be hooked.  But you may never think of beignets and street drummers in quite the same way again....

...Coming up next in the Gaming Nostalgia series, another Sierra game I've just started replaying, where the divide between mystical and industrial threatens to rip apart the very fabric of the world.  Stay tuned!


  1. Hey, thanks for the shoutout to GOG.com! We appreciate everyone spreading the word. Hope you find many more great old games that suit your fancy.

    Head of Marketing & PR for GOG.com

  2. Thanks, Trevor! GOG is awesome! And... um... sorry about that marketing director jab... hehehe... (awkward...)