Mac users have
typically had a harder time than PC users when it comes to gaming.
Whenever a new game would come out for PCs, Mac users would have to
wait months, maybe even years, before they would see the same
product. On a few rare occasions, though, the tables would turn, and
it would be the Mac users who got to experience a game first before
subsequent ports brought it to the rest of us. No, I'm not talking
about Marathon, dammit. I'm sick of hearing about that crummy game,
people. Doom is better! Anyway, no, I'm talking about a
horror-themed adventure game called Uninvited.
This is a shot from
the NES version of the game; I'll be talking more about the other
versions of the game later. The basic story is that you and your
older sister are out for a drive one day when a shadowy figure
appears in the road. You swerve to avoid it, slam into a wall, and
wake up to find your sister gone and your wrecked car in front of a
sinister-looking mansion. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Just replace
the words "older sister" with "daughter", and "mansion" with "foggy
town full of nurses and split-headed dogs" and you've got the plot
of Silent Hill. Interesting, no?
However, it isn't Silent Hill that the game most resembles, as it is
the precursor to the infamous NES adventure game, Shadowgate. For
those of you not in the know, that means that you'll be viewing the
world via still images from the first person perspective, and
interacting with a series of commands like "examine," "take," "hit,"
etc. It also means that you'll spend a lot of your time dead.
You see, in games like
Uninvited and Shadowgate, you're presented with puzzles that need a'
solvin', but more often than not, a wrong guess will mean a horrific
death for your character. Hell, the second room in Shadowgate saw
your character falling to his death just for picking up a damn book.
Sometimes, though, even when you were sure you had worked out the
answer to a situation, you could find yourself messing up because of
some minor detail that escaped your notice. Early on in the game,
for instance, your path is blocked by a nasty ghost, but you manage
to find a can of "No Ghost" in a closet. Perfect, I thought to
myself, now I can get past that ghost. The ghost showed up, and I
used the No Ghost on it...
Oh come on. I need to
tell him to do that? What kind of a nimrod is this guy? Fine, I'll
just OPEN the spray and...
Dammit all. I want a
Luckily, the creators had the foresight to add such a feature to the
game for its NES debut. In the other versions of the game, you had
to frequently save the game because you never knew what sort of BS
was going to get you killed in the next few moments, but in the NES
version, after dying you'd be given the option of continuing a few
moves before you met your untimely demise so you could rethink your
strategy (my strategy was "guess").
That spray can bit was probably the worst case of micromanaging the
player character's actions, though. The rest of the time, the
gameplay was simplified somewhat from the original version; whereas
to light something with a match before, you would have to OPEN the
matchbox, OPERATE the match, and then OPERATE the lit match on
whatever object you wanted to light, but the NES version cut that
down to just USE the matchbox, and then select the object to be lit.
Of course, that was just one problem with the game. The biggest
obstacle has to be the somewhat illogical puzzles. In one memorable
Hmm, that is a
problem. Wait, I picked up some salami back in the kitchen. I can
use that to distract the hungry pups while I slip inside.
Oh, for... It turns
out that you need to use a magic spell that causes a thunderclap,
which scares the dogs away. How could I have been so foolish? I
didn't need to feed the slavering canines; I needed to manipulate
the weather in order to get past them! Boy is my face red!
Anyway, as I was saying earlier, there are a few differences between
NES port and the original Macintosh game. When it was first released
for the Mac back in 1986, it was entirely in black and white, but
luckily, the NES port that came a scant five years later was in full
color, and is much easier to look at than, say, the DOS port.
The NES version also
had music, although it's hard to say whether or not the music adds
to the gameplay. When the game tells you that you're in a "quiet
hallway", but some jaunty NES music is blaring, it hurts the mood a
The PC version was also far verbose in its descriptions of things.
In some cases, this is probably due to the developers taking out
language that Nintendo-playing kids aren't likely to understand (for
shame), in other cases, the more detailed death scripts had to be a
little less detailed to make it through Nintendo standards. Consider
the following death sequence in the NES version:
Ouch. I hate when that
happens. Now, consider the same death as it is described in the PC
Yikes! Now I bet
you'll think twice about not lighting those candles.
On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the NES version includes at least
one death scene that isn't present in the PC version: at one point,
a very possessive ghost of a former servant appears and prevents you
from looting his secret stash. I decided to use the HIT command
because I find myself trying to take out my frustrations on just
about everything in this game, but I'm told that my mighty punch
passes right through the misty apparition, and life goes on. Not so
on the NES:
What a jerk. All I
wanted to do was beat him up and take his stuff. Freaky picture,
Not all of the deaths are scary, though.
Really? The jugular?
It's just napping peacefully. Shouldn't it at least be lunging at
the camera like all the other monsters?
Anyway, it seems to me like the main attraction of the game is the
many ways to die. The game definitely likes to subject you to
numerous deaths, many of them unavoidable without either reading a
guide or having a sixth sense for odd puzzles. Plus, it's not
unusual to find guides for this game that map out all the different
ways you can die or be killed. Personally, I find the death scene
music to be creepy, even though it's only three or four notes played
over and over again, and so this seems like an ideal scary game for
the Halloween season. After all, frustration is scary, right?