Top 10 retro graphic adventure games of all time from PC to consoles
First posted on 23 December 2006. Last updated on 23 May 2010.
Since current interest in the graphic adventure genre seems to be fading out, it is with a sense of nostalgia that I check out and list some of the most memorable graphic adventures of the past. By adventures I am referring to games in which the gameplay is more focused on problem solving than actions or statistics to reach a predefined goal. While most adventure games are made for the PC, there are also many great adventure game titles that have made the transition from the PC to console platform. This is my list (and a countdown) of the top 10 graphic adventures of all time for consoles that have been ported from the PC.
- 3DO, CD-i, Jaguar, PlayStation, Saturn (Cyan Worlds, 1993-1995)
- PC (Broderbund, 1993)
Critics have long argued on whether Myst is a real adventure game or just an interactive picture showcase demonstrating the multimedia possibilities of the CD-ROM for the first time. Though not everybody agrees on the game's playability, it is a fact that Myst conveys an unmatched atmospheric feeling and set the graphical standard for the generations of games that have since followed. The multiplatform release has made it possible for non-PC owners to witness the first steps of the CD-ROM as a gaming medium.
9. Beneath a Steel Sky
- Amiga CD32 (Virgin, 1994)
- PC (Virgin, 1994)
The Amiga CD32 is among the biggest flops in the history of videogame consoles. Notwithstanding its market failure, it is the only console that has a port of the Amiga/PC cult classic Beneath a Steel Sky, a high quality cyberpunk dark sci-fi adventure game. Compared to the Floppy Disk version for the PC, this port uses the high storage capacity of the CD of the CD32 to include voice acting. It is a rare gem for an otherwise flawed system.
8. King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
- Sega Master System (Parker Brothers, 1989)
- PC (Sierra On-Line, 1984)
King's Quest: Quest for the Crown is the game that has kick started the revolution of graphic adventures. Originally designed for the PC with a typing user interface, the game was reprogrammed to have selectable commands in the Sega Master System, since the console's control pad has only 2 buttons. Though hardly comparable to today's standards, it deserves an attention as among the first graphic adventure games on consoles and the only adventure game title available on the Sega Master System.
7. Rise of the Dragon
- Sega CD (Dynamix, 1993)
- PC (Sierra On-Line, 1990)
Rise of the Dragon is the third (if counting in Flashback: The Quest for Identity) graphic adventure game titles available on the Sega CD, which makes it the most successful console for adventure games! Who may have ever thought of that in advance? It is also the second game for the console which has been censored because of "adult contents" when compared to the Amiga/PC original. The game has the spooky atmosphere and a mature charm that are rarely found even in adventure games of that era. Anyone who feels like becoming a private investigator must experience this game before putting such a job into practice!
6. King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
- NES (Konami, 1990)
- PC (Sierra On-Line, 1990)
The fifth game in the King's Quest series is innovative for its time. It is the first installment of the series which uses a point and click user interface instead of a typing user interface. Due to this major change in the game architecture, the game could be ported from the PC to be released on the NES as well. This is only the second true graphic adventure for the NES (after Maniac Mansion). As in all adventure games from Sierra On-Line, watch out for the unexpected and painful deaths!
5. Flashback: The Quest for Identity
- 3DO, CD-i, Genesis, Jaguar, Sega CD, SNES (U.S. Gold, 1993-1995)
- PC (U.S. Gold, 1993)
Wait a moment! Is it not a proper graphic adventure? Well, no, that is right. However, Flashback: The Quest for Identity is a rare hybrid that has the same atmosphere as a traditional adventure and contains a lot of the same puzzle elements as well. Let me just say it is the most action packed "graphic adventure" on this list! It also deserves an honorable mention for being among the few decent games (adventure or not) on crappy console systems that include 3DO, CD-i, and Jaguar.
- PlayStation, Saturn (Psygnosis, 1995-1996)
- PC (Psygnosis, 1995)
Ever having bother to read any book by Terry Pratchett? No? Neither have I. Anyway, this game is guaranteed to be fun when it is Eric Idle of Monty Python fame who does the voice acting for the game's main protagonist Rincewind the Wizard. The bizarre humor and plot makes it even harder than The Secret of Monkey Island, but playing as the underdog in Discworld works pretty well. Now that I think of it, most adventure games mentioned on this list feature a sort of loser as a lead character—I wonder why that may be?
3. Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars
- Game Boy Advanced (Bam! Entertainment, 2002), Playstation(Sony, 1996)
- PC (Virgin Interactive Entertainment, 1996)
To be honest, Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars is not among my most favorite adventure games. For me, the game is too slow-paced and most dialogs are too long. For others, however, the game is considered to be a true classic. So here it is! If you feel like playing an American lost in Paris and talking to people with funny accents, this may just be for you. The game also deserves a special notice in that it is the first and only point and click adventure to be released on the Game Boy Advanced.
2. Maniac Mansion
- NES (Jaleco, 1988)
- PC (Lucasfilm Games, 1987)
Despite Nintendo's conservative and restrictive development policy in the early 1990s, Maniac Mansion was finally able to made it to the console platform on the NES. At the time, Nintendo's policy holds that "all videogames had to be completely family oriented and could not contain anything that anyone could find offensive in anyway". Since Maniac Mansion is clearly a parody of a horror B movie, it contains some edgy contents, such as a microwavable hamster, which did not please Nintendo much. Though Maniac Mansion ends up being heavily censored on the NES, it still remains as the humorous game that it originally intends to be.
1. The Secret of Monkey Island
- Sega CD (JVC, 1992)
- PC (Lucasfilm Games, 1990)
Of my most favorite graphic adventure games from Lucasfilm Games on the PC, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Sam & Max Hit the Road have never been released on a console. However, The Secret of Monkey Island as my remaining favorite has been ported to the Sega CD! This game deserves to be on top of my list, just for having the catchphrases "Hi, I'm Guybrush Threepwood. I want to become a pirate." and "Behind you! It's a three-headed monkey!"