July 21, 2009
I installed the ScummVM (Wikipedia) on my Android phone and put a couple of games on it: they work great. For people not familiar with the ScummVM, it's a virtual machine created by Ron Gilbert at Lucas Arts to factor out some of the tedium associated to the creation of adventure games in a library. Of course, the concept of virtual machines was not new even back then (around 1987) but the idea of creating such a machine for adventure games was quite innovative at the time and the VM was used in the following years to create about twenty different games.
The ScummVM was ported on a dizzying array of platforms and operating systems, including Android recently, by Angus Lees. Once I had the machine running on my phone, I couldn't resist installing it on my laptop as well. The good thing about the VM is that it doesn't matter which platform the game runs on: you can just copy the data files to your computer, point your native ScummVM to it and you're in business.
I have a lot of fantastic memories associated with the ScummVM, back when the days when adventure games were popular, and in particular, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, shown above on my Android phone.
My second favorite game, and one of the most difficult adventure games I have ever played is "Zak Mc Kracken and the Alien Mindbenders". This game is hard and some of the puzzles are downright in the "Are you kidding me?" category. This was an early ScummVM game and the interface didn't really help either (for example, there was no support for hovering, you had to click on an object to find out if it was active) but it has an epic feel in the various continents and puzzles it submits you to, and of course, the ever present humor that is a staple of most Lucas Arts ScummVM games.
The remastered version is a complete rewrite of the original game. This new version is native, not a ScummVM game, and interestingly, it lets you switch between the old and the new version on the fly by pressing on F10, so you can see for yourself how the new game compares to the original one:
And for people who still enjoy the quirky humor and the overall relaxing and piratey impression that permeates the entire series, Lucas Arts is releasing a brand new Monkey Island game in the form of five short stories. The first episode is available today on Steam under the name "The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal":
Happy ScummVM month!