Replay: ‘Scapeghost’ (1989)


A screenshot of 'Scapeghost' in DOS

AKA Spook
Level 9 · text adventure · text parser · 1989
Platform · Amiga · Amstrad CPC · Atari 8-bit · Atari ST · C64 · DOS · ZX Spectrum
Download · DOS · Spectrum

There is only one reason I would ever deign to tell you about some boring old text adventure, and here it is: Scapeghost is awesome.

For one thing, the game is well-written—we hardly get to applaud computer games for good writing anymore!—and for another, it is authentically creepy.

A lot of the creep factor is indebted to the atmospheric artwork that accompanies each new location’s block of text. (One 1990 review calls the VGA art “photorealistic,” which, no, but all the versions really are very good.) You can’t interact with the pictures—that’s the sort of thing you’d find in Déjà Vu, a super-duper-early Macintosh point-and-click adventure game—but each backdrop goes a long way in establishing the setting’s grim moodiness.

You were Alan Chance. You were a good cop; now you’re a dead cop. You were trying to bust a dirty drug deal and now, in death, everyone assumes the worst about you. You wake up at your own funeral. You can practically taste the mist.

From the get-go, this adventure is slim on real mystery. If you already know to follow the one especially-suspicious dude, he basically confesses to your murder under his breath. God, why do murderers always talk to themselves? I ask you.

So you already know the identity of the two-timing detective who offed you. All that’s left is to vindicate your own death… FROM BEYOND THE GRAAAAAAVE.

Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Linksplosion: Weird Dreams edition

Comments (2)

Get ready for summer sequel: revisiting ‘Fool’s Errand’

Perhaps you are wondering why Infinite Lives is being updated with alarming consistency! It is because I have the flu and a fever, and I am in bed and bored.

But besides trolling the Internet for items of interest, and coughing, I’ve also been looking around for abandonware DOS games to install.

My current squeeze? 1987’s The Fool’s Errand.


Late last week, GameLife published David Kushner’s interview with Cliff Johnson, the designer behind Fool’s Errand. Its sequel, The Fool and His Money, is slated for release this summer. (If you absolutely can’t wait, you can play the demo now.)

The 1987 puzzle game seemingly builds itself around the Tarot—which itself has an inbuilt sequence and circular narrative—beginning with the Major Arcana and then moving toward made-up arcana like ‘the Humbug’ and ‘the Not-A-Merchant’.

Johnson has made Fool’s Errand and all its extras available as free downloads. While he himself prefers the Windows and Macintosh versions of the game, they might require a little finagling. Intel MacBook users like me might do well to install the much uglier, 16-color DOS version instead:

DOS version

Comments (3)

Starflight and the open-ended RPG

I remember the first time I saw Mass Effect in action, months ago. Here was a game where you could travel from solar system to solar system, exploring worlds in your ATV and interacting with alien races. And I couldn’t help but feel that I had done this before, years ago, with the Genesis.

Starflight screen, filched from Wikipedia Starflight is a now-obscure EA game that originally saw release on Microsoft’s old DOS platform, before being ported to the Genesis and a slew of other computers systems, where you essentially traveled through the galaxy, exploring planets, meeting aliens, and either talking with them and getting information or blasting each other to bits. Part of the appeal of the game is simply how fleshed out the world is; each of the alien races have histories together, and each will tell you slightly different stories about one other and themselves. Some will come after you for having a particular species of crew member on your vessel, while others will just try to blow you away immediately.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)

Page 1 of 11