Let's Play Fantasy Quest: old school puzzle adventure on the Apple Macintosh

  • Welcome to Let's Play Fantasy Quest: a puzzle adventure game released in 1990 for vintage Macintosh computers!

    Fantasy Quest - Title Screen

    It's been 30 years since this game came out, and this is the first time I'm going to successfully complete it! (that 30 year gap has got to be some kind of lifetime record, but who's bragging :p) Fantasy Quest is, unsurprisingly, a game that I have maintained fondness for largely because I originally struggled against it at a very young age. For whatever reason, it has stuck with me as I've grown older. There were many other obscure Mac games from the early 90s which didn't create that kind of connection, and the Mac library as a whole is something that I've very rarely revisited. But I look back upon that era of gaming with warm memories of the friends I used to have at the time, and we would play Mac games together like any other video games we owned.

    Fantasy Quest - Spiral Staircase

    The game is in black and white (4 color grayscale). Look at those gorgeous dithering patterns! In reality, Macs had gone to color displays by the 90s, and these kind of graphics were more representative of the previous era of "System 6 Macs". My head canon is that Fantasy Quest was a swan song for other similarly produced games (having come out so late and looking so good). An expert could explain whether I'm talking out of my butt here, but Fantasy Quest feels heads and shoulders above its peers running on the same engine.

    Oh yeah, the game is one of many adventure games created using the "World Builder engine". World Builder was Mac software for ordinary users to create games with. And by "ordinary user" I mean even kids could make something using straightforward GUI interactions. I remember creating simple games using it! No harder to use than Mario Paint or Sim City, and it didn't require coding to get something playable (although coding allowed more advanced things to happen). And no command lines or weird tools like making custom Doom wads.

    World Builder came with a small library of stock sound effects (which are quite good; A+ work). Most games used these same sounds, and they all have the same style of user interface windows, giving these games a common feel. The "custom Doom wad" is actually a useful point of reference, because every World Builder game plays like a mod of the same game... The differences are confined to different room layouts, different artwork, and different items. The actual "game systems" can't be customized.

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    Fantasy Quest - Hall of Armor

    Fantasy Quest - Woman

    Fantasy Quest - Big Tree

    Fantasy Quest - Elven Forest

    Fantasy Quest - Water Fountain

    Fantasy Quest - Swearwolf

    ~ ~ ~

    In this first episode I spend a good 8 minutes before the actual game stats. That is not proper Let's Play form (it's disgusting, really), but what I talk about felt valuable to me and why I bothered playing this game in 2020 at all. This introduction covers the background of Fantasy Quest/World Builder, and much more on my personal connection to this game. Fantasy Quest is like my white whale from this era, and after all the ups and downs I'm finally going to close the book on it.

    -> This is a 12 episode video LP, recorded in advance.
    -> The main game consists of 8 episodes. The LP continues in a 4 episode bonus quest for tackling the "random game scenario".
    -> I will be uploading 3 episodes per week, which seems like the right frequency for an average episode that is 25-30 minutes long.

    I hope you enjoy watching.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest: old school puzzle adventure on the Apple Macintosh
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 2! Expect our first tricky parser puzzle, retrieving the best sword in the game, and feeling fondness for the sound effects library.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 2, Fire Wand, Graveyard Shrine, Golden Sword
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 3! Expect an ancient riddle, mastering highly specific spells, a repeating cycle of memories, and getting too many precious stones.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 3, the Ancient Tree's Riddle and the Swamp Witch Quest
    Youtube Video

    This episode is a bit longer than normal. Next week's episodes will be uploaded on a MWF schedule.

  • It occurs to me now, after having finished the LP, that I'm probably not pronouncing "Incompeta" correctly and I didn't ever stop to look at that word more carefully to notice. :) Also, I thought it was easily understood that the kingdom name was a joke on the word "incompetent" -- as in, referring to the drunken drawbridge and the horsey knights and all -- but now I think this is just what felt obvious to me in my own head.

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 4! Expect our insurance policy to kick in, musings about world builder code, and recalling the culture of user-created adventures.

    Fantasy Quest LP episode 4, Village, Mountain Cliff Spelunking, Navigating the Mines
    Youtube Video

  • I've been enjoying it! I haven't played a game like this in a looooong time. It's neat to see one I haven't played being poked and prodded.

  • @sazime said in Let's Play Fantasy Quest: old school puzzle adventure on the Apple Macintosh:

    I've been enjoying it! I haven't played a game like this in a looooong time. It's neat to see one I haven't played being poked and prodded.

    Nice to hear :) By "game like this", do you mean an old/retro adventure game or just any adventure game more generally?

  • BTW, since I was discussing world builder software in the last episode: here's a page on mac garden to scroll through and see what other world builder games looked like.

  • @chocobop Older/retro adventure games. I'm a fan of this particular style, similar to Shadowgate and the like.

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 5! Expect a string of successful puzzle intuitions, our bloodlust to be stoked by clearly ignorable enemies, and reaching the most intimidating area of the game.

    Fantasy Quest LP episode 5, Dragon Deals, Elven Armor, and Finding the Underground 3D Maze
    Youtube Video

  • Let's talk about World Builder software using the context of the game so far...

    Here's a link for the instruction manual for world builder, if you want to thumb through what using this software was like.

    World Builder manual, scenes

    World Builder manual, characters

    The way World Builder works, the only "entities" in the game are characters (player, monsters) and objects (things you find on the ground and which generally go into your inventory when clicked). All graphics come from these entities together with the background painting for the current room. The background is completely fixed, so to get any kind of animation -- like at 15:45 for the Elven Plate armor chest rising out of the ground -- you have to add and remove dummy objects to the scene using code. Objects like these are marked as immovable and non-interactable by the player, so they don't wind up in the player's inventory.

    On the title screen (the first image of the thread), even the little dot that shows your menu selection is an inventory object. I think it is actually two separate objects, because the dot can move between two possible menu selections and I'm pretty sure an object's graphic doesn't have an (x,y) position. (Such a simple menu screen is actually very advanced for World Builder.)

    If a game wants an object to be oriented or "posed" differently when you find it laying on the ground and then later, say, stick the object somewhere special as a puzzle solution, it has to create multiple versions of that object and juggle them around properly. It's also probably why objects we find in chests/coffins/etc. aren't visible, but you can drop most of them once they are in your inventory.

    I'd speculate the 3D maze was accomplished by making the background a painting of just the floor and ceiling, essentially a blank canvas, and then creating a dozen or so objects for every possible "rasterization" of a wall section or scenery object. Then the code would have to place/hide the right combination of wall objects depending on what each room is supposed to look like from the direction you entered.

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 6! Expect statues to not be very talkative, walking through a cryptography challenge, and we decide against taking the pants off a dead guy. Featuring a powerhouse enemy that we simply throw ourselves against.

    Enjoy Shiren the Wanderer music in this one. I think this is my favorite episode actually, owing to the sequence of realizations that occur. I can appreciate that for other viewers, though, this episode does have less visual variety.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 6, Map Drawing and Getting Lost in the 3D Maze
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 7! Expect a recheck of the game world, grabbing a much needed shield, musing why we can't aim properly, and being dismayed that we are both overweight and cursed.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 7, Stone of Stability & The Hidden Passage in the Maze
    Youtube Video

  • I really wanted to see something happen with those spooks.

  • @sazime Me too. After completing the LP, my best guess is that the player is supposed to avoid them, probably using the offer mechanic as the intended strategy.

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 8! Expect voice acting out of nowhere, defeating a conspicuous assailant, and wondering "why are deserted cities always in deserts?"

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 8, Main Game Clear
    Youtube Video

    The next episodes (ep 9-12) will be tackling the random game scenario, if you want to check those out. Beating this game was a big trip down memory lane. I think it was more satisfying bringing myself back in time than the more overt goal of completing this "white whale".

    I also have a good amount of respect for the game itself after playing through it. I don't think there were any puzzles that were illogical or fiendishly difficult. The art looks exceptional and the game has a natural flow to where you should be exploring next, things I would not expect from other world builder games. The unpleasant parts just have to do with the (primitive) parser itself and having to have the map directions for the mine maze.

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 9! Expect discoveries of several changed rooms, unpleasant excursions into dimly lit water, and the unmistakable memory of a 2nd quest skull.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 9, Random Game Scenario With A Brand New Riddle
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 10! Expect musings on how the random scenario displays conventions of modern randomizers, making progress by discovering a dead end, and working on the new mine tunnel puzzle. Featuring a couple punks who shouldn't be getting the better of us.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 10, Underwater Skeleton and Exploring Crydal
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 11! Expect delight when our solutions work first try, the long lost Brendan Fraser movie, and getting caught off guard by the new version of the maze.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 11, Crossing the Boardwalk and 3D Maze Curveballs
    Youtube Video

  • Let's Play Fantasy Quest ep 12! In this last episode we can't be sure who exactly cut the rope bridge, and we find that the wizard sure is a happy fellow.

    Let's Play Fantasy Quest episode 12, Crown of Wisdom and Finale
    Youtube Video

    Thanks to everyone who watched the whole thing. If revisiting old mac stuff interests you, here is the youtube channel "YYsMG" mentioned in this episode. I'll catch you next time!