Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cover to Cover: Virgin Games 1992 Catalog (pp. 19-20)

We have just a few more pages remaining in Virgin Games' 1992 catalog, which has spanned quite a few genres and platforms.

Page 19 features another early CD-ROM-enhanced title, and one of the last commercial text adventures:

Spirit of Excalibur, an Arthurian party-based RPG with detailed one-on-one combat, had been around for a year or two, but was now being released in a CD-ROM edition, offering an enhanced soundtrack "with real actors' voices," unlike, one supposes, those fake actors' voices heard in inferior products.  The engine was designed to allow characters developed in this game to be used in upcoming series entries; only one such sequel materialized, Vengeance of Excalibur.

Wonderland was yet another computer game inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass -- it was also the last full-blown illustrated text adventure released by Magnetic Scrolls, creators of The Pawn.  The classic text adventure genre was dying out, at least commercially, despite Magnetic Scrolls' quality interactive storytelling and considerable success at modernizing the interface.  The company would turn its attention to adventure/RPG games before ceasing operation.

Page 20 continues Virgin's home computer game lineup, with some unsurprising entries:

We saw Corporation earlier, in its Sega Genesis incarnation; the console and computer markets were distinct enough at the time that Virgin clearly felt some gamers would peruse certain pages and ignore others completely, so it's listed again here.

The Magnetic Scrolls Collection is an incomplete sampling of the Magnetic Scrolls library, with three older games updated to run in the company's newer window-based (not necessarily Windows-based) environment.  Go Fish!, Corruption and Guild of Thieves are included in this package; all three are quality efforts, but if CD-ROM had been the standard this might have been a more comprehensive collection.

And Vengeance of Excalibur is the sequel to Spirit of Excalibur, which gets less play here as it has no snazzy new CD edition in the works.  It's also very similar to the first game, which may be why no third series title was produced; Virgin already seems a little bit unenthusiastic about this as a continuing series.  It seems odd that the catalog entry for Spirit doesn't even mention the existence of the sequel, and that the two games are not listed closer together.

I think we can wrap this up next time -- just a few more pages of product to cover, and then the usual legalese and back cover to round out the catalog.

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