May 30, 2011

The ScummVM classic adventure appreciation tool

You might not remember it dear and vaguely aged reader, but there was a time when adventure games reigned supreme. A time when the latest Lucasarts or Sierra release was anticipated the same way the next, uhm, Halo I suppose, is eagerly awaited by today's less than elegant gaming mainstream. And before that, there was a time of wild experimentation, fresh ideas and technological leaps on a variety of platforms ranging from the Commodore 64 to the PC, with the later being the adventure gamers' true platform of choice.

Those two eras were eventually followed by the dark days of the graphics adventure when only a handful of quality offerings were released and when MS-DOS became a forgotten relic of an OS. Sadly most of the genre's classic were MS-DOS programs, which finally brings us to the point of this post: the excellent adventure game focused emulator ScummVM. The ultimate tool in the exploration of the world of classic and, well, aged adventures. An incredibly powerful emulator that lets you run an amazing variety of classic point-and-clickers without fiddling with Dosbox or trying to install Win 3.1 games on your Win 7 machine. With ScummVM, all you have to do is copy the game files directly from their CD or disk(s) to a folder, select said folder and play them on a variety of mostly modern platforms ranging from the PC and the Dreamcast to the PSP and Nintendo's Wii.

That's what the German version of Day of the Tentacle looks like in ScummVM.
Each game, and I'm mainly referring to the PC version of the thing, can be played with full sounds in a variety of resolutions, either full-screen or windowed and can even have its graphics enhanced via some particularly smart and ever-evolving filters. As for the games you can emulate, well, prepare to be impressed... Every classic Lucasarts/Lucasfilm game from Maniac Mansion up to The Curse of Monkey Island, most of Sierra's AGI and SCI offerings spanning the period from King's Quest I to Leisure Suit Larry 6, Revolution's classics including the first two Broken Swords, Coktel Vision's Gobliiins trilogy and more, Elvira, Simon the Sorcerer and the rest of the major Adventuresoft / Horrorsoft games, the few Activision adventures, the back catalogue of Humongous Entertainment and many of those Living Book games for kids can seamlessly be enjoyed. What's more, a selection of other classic  adventures such Discworld, The 7th Guest, Cruise for a Corpse and Future Wars is supported, with the list growing stronger by the month.

To download ScummVM -and you should really do so- for the machine of your preference simply click yourself over to the official, rich and very lovely indeed ScummVM site. The emulator is happily freeware and you'll also get the chance to grab some retro demos and even a few complete games for free, among which you'll find the excellent Beneath a Steel Sky and the vastly underrated Flight of the Amazon Queen. I, of course, trust you to navigate the site yourself cunning reader.

And you can even point-and-click in Hercules mode!
Oh, and I almost forgot; the latest ScummVM release (1.3.0 Runner) has just been made available. It now supports more platforms, a new set of games (including Toonstruck and the Hugo series), adds compatibility with the Amiga and Mac versions of more than a few Sierra games and, as usually, introduces a selection of subtle enhancements and bug-fixes.

Related @ Gnome's Lair:


  1. Ah, the good and not so old ScummVM! I should probably update this thing, since I have the 0.7 version or so.

  2. Oh, but you absolutely must David. The thing has evolved to sheer brilliance!

  3. "without fiddling"

    And that really is the crux of it, there are tons of emulators out there and even a few others to play every game that ScummVM can emulate.
    But it is simply so easy to use and is the only emulator for any game I can say that about.

  4. Absolutely agree. It's utterly lovable dear Jonathon!

  5. I sometimes keep wondering about how many great games have been created by this point in time, and that consequently modern game designers have to face the competition of hundreds upon hundreds of amazing titles and would have been much better off traveling back in time to the 90s or 80s...

    But then I'm reminded of what a chore was to get most of these games running for the players (fond of fiddling with autoexec and config.sys anyone?), how many platforms with unique titles there were and how slow were the earlier versions of Windows to navigate and repair (not to mention the unfriendly programs and games themselves).

    It's incredibly how essential to gamers programs like DOSBox and ScummVM have become and how faster they make everything.

  6. Have used this before, I don't play old adventure games without it. If only I were any good at playing them...

  7. @ Igor: Indeed my friend. ScummVM and DOSbox are a retro gamer's closest digital friends. As for the number of games, worry not! Just think of the number of excellent books that have been written through the centuries.

    @ Ithmeer: Oh, but it just a matter of training your brain in the adventure ways my friend :)

  8. "You might not remember it dear and vaguely aged reader, but there was a time when adventure games reigned supreme."

    Not to be controversial, but there's a slick, AAA budget adventure game topping the video game charts right now...

  9. There is? Is there? Where? What? Why and above all how?

  10. I think Pacian means L.A.Noire. I wish there was a PC version myself.

    Oh, and about books... I'm not sure how well the new authors are doing. I think it's difficult to evaluate - lots of conflicting info.

  11. Ah, I see. LA Noir. Can't say anything about it really... Can say about the books. There are many excellent modern authors. Really. And I'm not talking about shitty best-seller celebrities. Think Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin and of course Ouelbek.

  12. Hercules mode! Oh, my childhood days.

  13. Indeed. Those lovable Hercules/CGA cards were all the rage :)