Keeping the adventure flame burning with ScummVM

Everything after this is harder

Everything after this is harder

There were a lot of adventure games that I had never gotten the chance to get into years ago, but thanks to efforts such as ScummVM, they can still live again to keep me awake at night in pondering solutions to bizarre puzzles. If you don’t know what it is, ScummVM is a program developed by die-hard adventure gamers that has grown over the years and honed into an extremely user friendly application allowing you to run older adventure titles provided you have the data files for them. For example, I have the talkie version of “Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis”. Getting it to run under XP is something akin to jumping through flaming hoops, but with ScummVM, I just have to start it up, parse my way over to the CD drive, and add it to the list of games that you want to start up with it.

The main site has a few downloadable adventure games from yesteryear and I had just finished getting through “Beneath a Steel Sky“, a sci-fi title from Revolution‘s earlier days. You might know them from their ongoing franchise, the Broken Sword series, and it’s one of designer Charles Cecil’s first games for the company. I’ve always wanted to get into it, and now that it’s freeware and is supported by ScummVM, it was easier than ever.

Playing through it was a challenge, mostly because of the conventions that adventure gamers take for granted with other, more recent, titles that light up hot spots on the screen with the spacebar or other key making pixel hunting easier to get over. There’s a lot of that in “Beneath a Steel Sky” as some of the objects blended into the background, but it’s one of those classic titles with a solid story that balances out a lot of the hair pulling. It’s a lot of fun with some cheeky humor worked into the narrative and I enjoyed the challenge. There are also a few others, such as “Lure of the Temptress”, Revolution’s first adventure game, and “Flight of the Amazon Queen”.

ScummVM has a pretty impressive compatibility list, most of which consists of Lucasarts titles since the Scumm engine was created to help develop their adventures, but titles such as “Beneath a Steel Sky” also show how versatile ScummVM can be with its support. The Kyrandia series from Westwood Studios is supported, along with a few Space Quest titles. It’s too bad I no longer have a 5.25 drive to transfer the files over, though, but I think I have the Kyrandia stuff on CD and 3.5s.

So, if you have a few older adventure titles that you can’t get to run under XP and don’t want to have to fiddle with files, settings, or search Google for ways to get it to run, ScummVM might be the inventory item you need to get going.

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