Electronic Arts put many of their iOS games on sale yesterday for only $.99! At that price, I picked up quite a few. While browsing there game, I noticed a “Customers who bought this also bought” message that showed a tiny little icon near and dear to my heart…. The 7th Guest.
The 7th Guest is famous, not only for being a great game, but is the first game available exclusively on CD-ROM. Previous to this, games were a mash of floppy discs or occasionally available on both floppys and CD-ROM. The game is almost entirely done through video sequences. As you slid your skeletal mouse cursor around the screen, it would direct you towards puzzles, story sequences and Easter Eggs.
Originally released in 1993, I was only eleven years old at the time. The atmosphere and music were delectably deviant – especially for a child obsessed with all things scary. Just watch the intro sequence at the bottom of this post and you’ll see why I loved this game from the first few minutes. (You’ll also see how far video game acting has come!) The puzzles were extremely challenging then, but I do remember beating the game! This was before the internet, and I don’t remember us owning the strategy guide, so we must have solved them by ourselves…
The iPad version of the game is great, and steal at only $2.99. All but three of the puzzles remain intact. Two of them were removed because they just wouldn’t work on the iPhones tiny screen. While the puzzles are styled to the game’s horror theme, many of them are variations of classics you could find in many puzzle books. Some of the ones I found the most challenging include trying to place 8 Queen pieces on a chess board with out any of them taking another. Another is rearranging a series of cans with letters on them to form a sentence – except the only vowel you get is the letter Y! One could think of it as as a creepy Professor Layton game for the Nintendo DS..
The 7th Guest does show its age though. Some of the animations are a bit too fast on the iPad. I’m not sure if this by design or if the iPad is just way faster than my old PC. (Of course, my dad always did buy “bleeding edge” electronics, so I can’t imagine our PC was too slow. I remember when he brought it home, it had a 1 gigabyte hard drive, “Dan, this hard drive is HUGE! We will NEVER fill this up!” Then on our next PC, to the disbelief of the sales guy, he put in more RAM than the current version of Windows could handle. ) The pre-rendered graphics can be a challenge to see at times. They implemented a magnifying glass zoom feature, but even still, these are some old renderings, designed for screens much lower resolution than the iPad.
Another gripe is the old school menu system. You have 10 save slots, and still have to use the Ouija Board to spell out the name of the saved game (which you never see again anyway, so not really sure the point). It would have been nice to see Trilobyte Games update this to a more modern design. Of course, their website doesn’t look like its been updated since 1993, so I’m not entirely surprised by this 😛
Overall, the 7th Guest is a great addition to the iTunes app store! I look forward to the 11th Hour, which I’ve never actually played but had similarly great reviews. A word of warning though, if you don’t have some sentimental value towards the game, you may find the dated graphics and interfaces a bit draining. Despite the small nuisances though, I managed to beat the game in one evening – a quick trip down memory lane!
I think the iPad is a great platform for these old school games to be given new life. I hope that more companies take this route! I’d love to see other classics like Gabriel Knight, Masters of Magic, and X-Com UFO Defense!