Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Megadrive/Genesis

The Megadrive/Genesis conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is one of the very best conversions out there. In my opinion, second only to Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the SNES (and of course the original arcade game).

Megadrive Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was reprogrammed by Sega and published on cartridge in 1990. And it has to be said that Sega did a marvellous job. The graphics are a work of pixel artistry; the gameplay is challenging and precise; there’s a practise mode that allows you to explore a bit more of the game than you might normally see. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’m convinced I saw stuff in this that I hadn’t seen anywhere else – not even in the arcade game. I must be wrong… It could be because I got further in this version than any of the others.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was an early release for the Sega Megadrive and it really showed what the console was capable of. It also still holds up well to this day. A testament to its greatness.

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Defender of the Crown, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 conversion of Defender of the Crown is a celebrated retro gaming classic. Apart from loading times, there’s little to fault about it.

Considering that the game has effectively been converted from the 16-bit Amiga original, down to the 8-bit Commodore 64, it must rank as one of the best conversions of all time.

Part Risk; part Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Defender of the Crown is where castles, strategy and cinematics meet – 8-bit retro style.

Also on The King of Grabs: Cinemaware Week

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defender_of_the_Crown

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Megadrive/Genesis

Developed by Sega and released for the Megadrive/Genesis in 1990, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a masterpiece platform game that has stood the test of time extremely well.

The game itself is pretty simple: running, jumping, climbing, and swimming, with Mickey on a quest to save Minnie Mouse from the evil witch Mizrabel.

Mickey’s main weapon is his bounce, which he can perform while jumping and which helps him defeat enemies. He can also pick up items, such as apples and marbles, to use as projectiles to throw at enemies.

To defeat Mizrabel, Mickey must find the “Seven Gems of the Rainbow”, each of which can found behind a door, in a different realm, protected by one of Mizrabel’s henchmen. There are six different – graphically distinct – stages (The Enchanted Forest, Toyland, The Storm, Dessert Factory, The Library, and The Castle), with a boss battle at the end of each.

Castle of Illusion still looks and plays great to this day. If I had any complaint it would be that the Megadrive doesn’t have transparent pixels (like the SNES does), which means that the designers had to make do with using ‘stippling’ in the water sections (which is ugly and makes the game look dated). Otherwise: it’s marvellous (still).

A remake of Castle of Illusion was made by Sega Studios Australia in 2013 and is currently available on Steam.

More: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse on Wikipedia

Thimbleweed Park, PC

Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure, released in 2017 by Terrible Toybox, and co-created by ex-LucasArts employees Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert.

In case you didn’t know: both Gilbert and Winnick have been involved in the making of some of the best games of all time, including (but not limited to) titles such as: Ballblazer, Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Day of the Tentacle.

And in 2014 they launched a Kickstarter to fund development of their “dream game”. Well, their tribute to point-and-click adventures of the past, but using modern technology. As a backer I followed the game’s development with interest. A top team of artists, musicians, voice actors, and technicians were assembled, and the game was completed pretty much as planned, taking three years to develop.

Thimbleweed Park is a mystery adventure set in 1987, with five playable characters and a whole load of puzzles to crack. Fear not, though. If you’re weak on puzzles you can play the game in Casual mode just to enjoy the story and pixel artistry. Real gamers will play it in Hard mode, though, to experience everything it has to offer.

First and foremost Thimbleweed Park looks amazing. The graphics really are a work of pixel artistry and they are further enhanced with great animation, silky smooth scrolling, visual effects, and even real-time lighting. Everything about Thimbleweed Park is just so slick; the useful right-click functionality; the way icons jiggle to get your attention; the screen tilting; the alternative fonts; the voice acting; the language support. If I had any niggles it would be that there’s no manual scroll (I wanted one), and… that’s about it.

Story-wise, Thimbleweed Park is hilarious too. It’s basically an X-Files-type scenario, with lots of satirical horror film and video game references. And jokes. The game starts off seemingly innocuously (although smart players will realise that they’re controlling a doomed man), then becomes a murder mystery, before turning into a curse story, and then cutting back to the murder mystery. All the playable characters have their own plotlines going on, and the game cuts between them as flashbacks as the story unfolds.

The playable characters vary quite a bit and all have their own unique charm. The lead – a female FBI officer called Ray – is laconic and easily annoyed; her male partner, Reyes, is an eager rookie. Then there’s a clown, called Ransome, who is infamous for his *beeping* insults. A computer programmer called Delores, and her rather, Franklin, make up the remaining playable characters.

I can’t recommend Thimbleweed Park highly enough. It is a fantastic love letter to point-and-click adventure games of the past and is genuinely funny, absorbing, and challenging. It’s worth playing to see the beautiful art alone, although the writing, music, puzzles, and usability are all significant contributors to the fact that this is a future classic in the making. Which is quite ironic.

Thimbleweed Park is also available on current gen systems, such as PlayStation 4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch. Plus Mac, Linux and Android.

More: Thimbleweed Park on Wikipedia
Steam: Thimbleweed Park on Steam
GOG.com: Thimbleweed Park on GOG.com

Sam & Max by Steve Purcell.

Sam & Max Comics

A little bonus, on the back of our Sam & Max Hit the Road feature published today: not grabs, but a small selection of high quality Sam & Max comics, as written and drawn by LucasArts veteran and all-round master of the paintbrush, Steve Purcell.

I love Purcell‘s artwork so much – not to mention Hit the Road itself – that I had to share these with you.

Steve Purcell created a range of hilarious strips based on the infamous dog/rabbit duo. Some were full-length comics and other were just small, single panels. He also drew lots of different Sam & Max posters, a few of which I’ve included here.

As Max would say: I’d be peeing my pants if I wore any!

Enjoy!
The King of Grabs

More: Steve Purcell on Wikipedia
More: Sam & Max on Wikipedia

Sam & Max - Freelance Police - versus the Nazis.

Sam & Max – Freelance Police #1

Sam & Max - Freelance Police - versus the Empire.

Sam & Max – Freelance Police #2

Sam & Max - Freelance Police - versus the Death Star.

Sam & Max – Freelance Police #3