Friday, February 14, 2014

"Dungeon Keeper", Windows, 1997.

OK, time for a dragon break... but we'll keep the dungeon, thank you. I never played this one back in the day (too busy graduating high school perhaps), but its legacy has stood the test of time, inspiring inheritors to its ideas such as Overlord, Evil Genius and War for the Overworld. "Play as the antagonist" just wasn't a concept that had popped yet in the '90s -- that halcyon, pre-GTA era.

Anyhow, I'm procrastinating here, and the clock is ticking: supposing my calculations are correct, until 2 am Sunday PST, GOG (aka Good Old Games) is offering Dungeon Keeper for free, including the expansion, and its sequel for a buck fifty. Also, steep discounts off of Interplay-era D&D games whose ads I'm still six print-years away from sharing with you. To make up for my getting the word out late, here you go, an unprecedented two posts in one day! But you may not see another until the weekend wraps up.

(And as a totally unrelated giveaway for hip-hop fans, until 8 am Saturday, De La Soul is giving away any and all of its albums for free. Though there are a couple of suitable games, I really didn't have any ads that fit that theme.)

I feel a bit bad announcing these here, since it's already taken quite a while for the information to trickle down to me and there isn't much time left -- if you're depending on my video game ad blog for current news, you're pretty hard up. All the same, free is free. (I'm growing a collection of redundant Steam codes which should also yield some giveaways down the road, if I can think of some kind of compelling contest to run.)

The word is out. Dungeon Keeper
is really bad.

"Fiendishly good"

    - Computer and Net Player, 10/10
"It brings bad things to life"
    - Computer Gaming World, ****.5
"Wonderfully evil and wickedly addictive"
    - PC Gamer, 90%
"Hell is bubbling out of your PC"
    - Happy Puppy
"The bad guys have more fun"
    - Newsweek
And we couldn't be more proud.
Look for the Deeper Dungeons evil add-on at your local retailer.
It was only in 1987 that Michael Jackson released "Bad", making ofays like myself scratch their heads over the counterintuitive use of the term; 10 years later, I gather we'd come to terms with its use as abbreviation for "bad-ass". (And of course it is a nice play on the player controlling what amounts to an evil villain. Breakdown: the game is nasty, but not poorly-executed. But that's not catchy at all!)

This is a species of the "let the good reviews speak for us" style of ad, one which we haven't seen much of yet... it doesn't make for compelling transcription on my end, but you don't have to hire anyone to pen copy for your ad and besides, gives the ad an air of (curated) objectivity. "We think we're great, but don't just take our word for it... here are some other people who also think we're great, like the highly reputable 'Happy Puppy'!" (whose sound bite here could equally have been used to sell Doom!)

I like the play on GE's slogan, "We bring good things to life". And then there is the peek at the URL, a sign of the beginning of the end. Bullfrog founder Peter Molyneux hadn't yet become a punchline to the gaming industry (and, well, inspiration to the indies), though this was his final game at the helm of his company before its vital juices were sucked out and the empty structure shuttered. I don't give EA a lot of love on this blog because it often comes up in association with the final chapters of many of the companies whose great games I report on here, notably the visionary titans of my beloved '90s: Kesmai, Origin, Bullfrog, Westwood, Maxis. A couple of them still live on as zombie labels, but none of them still have the spark of life behind their eyes.