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Ballyhoo by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Infocom Ballyhoo

I recently managed to pick up another adventure to further expand my Infocom collection – this time it was Ballyhoo from 1986. It arrived in a lovely condition throughout with just a few worn edges and corners to bear witness to its 34 year lifespan. I was really impressed that the ‘The Travelling Circus That Time Forgot’ balloon was not only still in the box but also in once piece.

 

Infocom Ballyhoo – back cover

 

This particular adventure takes place in a circus setting, beyond which ‘lies a seedy world of deception and crime’ according to the description on the box. A young girl has been kidnapped and it falls upon you to investigate her disappearance. The description continues; ‘…watch your step. As the night progresses, you realise you’re in as much danger as the little girl… the kidnapper is lurking right on the lot, trying to set you up for a permanent slot in the freak show!’

 

Infocom Ballyhoo

The Ballyhoo opening screen on my Commodore 64

 

Ballyhoo’s difficulty level is rated by Infocom themselves as ‘Standard’ which means it is supposed to be playable by normal mortals. I’ve never played this particular adventure before so that remains to be seen. However they do have two higher difficulty levels of Advanced and Expert so that does encourage me somewhat. The easiest difficulty for reference is ‘Introductory’ which they say is suitable for kids aged 9 and above.

 

Official Souvenir Program

In many Infocom games there’s often a short story to set the scene for the game. In Ballyhoo the scene is set within an ‘Official Souvenir Program’ that actually forms part of the box cover. It provides a brief history of the circus and introduces several of the ‘acts’ that perform in it, both past and present. The program then gives way to the games instruction manual, describing how to play the game and even giving tips on drawing a map and so on. It’s an essential part of the packaging for sure.

 

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Inside the Infocom Ballyhoo box

 

As with all Infocom games there’s more than just a disk inside the box.

 

Infocom Ballyhoo

View of the box compartment with plastic ‘lid’ in place.

 

Infocom’s Ballyhoo offers a number of circus themed extras tucked away inside its box.

 

View of the box compartment with plastic ‘lid’ removed.

 

Normally there would be a reference card included that gives directions for loading the game but it looks like that is missing from my copy. However the 5.25″ disk is present and correct and in really good condition too with no signs of mould on the label. It loads fine as well although when I play it I’ll be using a copy or just using a disk image to preserve the original disk.

 

Infocom Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo game contents laid out.

 

Also included is a single ‘Admit One’ circus ticket and a trade card for Dr. Nostrum’s ‘Wondrous Curative’, ‘Guaranteed to sooth all ills’. As I mentioned at the beginning, the balloon is still in the box too which I’m delighted about. Admittedly it is now rock solid and could never be blown up but as a memento of a gaming period gone by it’s a terrific addition. Many of these little trinkets are missing from the games now as they were easily lost over the years.

 

Infocom Ballyhoo

A closer look at the ‘feelies’.

 

Quite a lot of effort has gone into the creation of these extras. For example, reading the reverse side of Dr. Nostrum’s trade card reveals the ailments it can be used to treat. These include Toothache, Grippe & Catarrh, Constipation, Pin Worms and even ‘Singer’s Throat’, whatever that is. It even gives directions on exactly how to use it for each type of ailment. Snake oil remedies like this were commonplace in this time period so this all helps to build atmosphere.

 

A closer look at the ‘feelies’ – reverse side.

 

The back of the ticket gives details of the acts you will be seeing and also warns you to be wary of pickpockets, gamblers, thugs and thieves which doesn’t bode well! It also reminds you that you are entitled to three sessions with ‘Rimshaw the Incomparable’. Apparently he will read your palm, the bumps on your head and even hypnotise you!

It definitely has the foundations of a good mystery thriller and I look forward to getting stuck into it one day very soon!

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Sherlock Holmes by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Infocom Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels was the last of a bunch of Infocom adventure games I picked up before Christmas. This, like all my others, is for the Commodore 64 and is in pretty good condition. The box does show some signs of wear but nothing too bad, just some creasing and wear to the corners. Sadly, like Border Zone, it is missing a ‘feelie’. Originally it would have shipped with a little plastic Sherlock Holmes key fob. It’s a little disappointing for sure but I can live without it, it’s the least important part of the package to me anyway.

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

Contrary to what I had expected, you actually play the role of Doctor Watson rather than Sherlock Holmes. The Crown Jewels have been stolen from the Tower of London and you only have 48 hours to retrieve them. Holmes deduces that this is a deadly trap constructed for him personally and so gets you (Watson) to take his place to throw the perpetrator off guard.

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

Exploring Victorian London is the highlight of the game for me. Locations are richly described which really helped immerse me in the games world. Playing Watson instead of Holmes is very odd though and I’m not sure why the author decided to do this. Only time will tell if it ultimately proves detrimental to the game.

Invisiclues

Unfortunately I don’t share Sherlock Holmes’ legendary deductive abilities so I’m glad there’s help available in this game. Just typing ‘hint’ brings up an ‘Invisiclues’ help screen. From here you can choose what you need help with from a menu. What’s great about this system is it gently nudges you in the right direction rather than just blurting out the answer. It does this by offering three hints. The first is quite vague but enough to hopefully get you thinking along the correct lines. The the second is less vague and if you still can’t figure it out the final hint is the actual answer. You can also turn this feature off if you think it will pose too great a temptation.

Sherlock Holmes Contents

As with all Infocom games there’s quite of lot of stuff packed inside the slide out tray.

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

Sliding out the box insert

Sherlock Holmes is no exception here with lots of extra goodies tucked inside the box insert.

The Sherlock Holmes box insert

Inside there’s the instruction manual, the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, a tourist map of London and a copy of The Thames newspaper.

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

A look at what’s included inside the Infocom Sherlock Holmes game box

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

London Tours Guide Map

The Thames newspaper

Sherlock Holmes Infocom

The manual gives you a few pointers including how to draw a map…

As I mentioned earlier there should also be a little key fob but unfortunately that was missing from the box. However all the important things are present and correct and the fob isn’t required to actually play the game.

Sherlock Holmes Fob

You can see the fob that should have been in the box next to the magnifying glass above

Once again this is another lovely addition to my Infocom collection and hopefully it won’t be the last. There aren’t many Infocom games floating around these days so it may be a while before another one crosses my path.

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Border Zone by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Border Zone Infocom

Before Christmas I mentioned that I had picked up a few new Infocom adventure games for my collection. Well this is the second one, Border Zone for the Commodore 64. Again this is in very good condition throughout. The only blemish being that it is missing one of the feelies (a book of matches) but I’m not really too bothered about that.

 

Border Zone

Infocom Border Zone back cover

 

This adventure is a little bit different as you actually play three different people during the course of the game. The idea being that you get to see the story unfold from different viewpoints. At certain points in the story the paths of the characters intersect too which should prove interesting. Border Zone is basically a cold war spy thriller which was all the rage back in the 80’s. In a nutshell there’s an assassination plot and you must either try to prevent it, or ensure it succeeds, depending on who you are playing as.

 

Border Zone

Border Zone opening screen on my Commodore 64

I have to confess that after I started to play this I realised that there is a timer that ticks down while you are playing. This is a real-time timer… it ticks down whether you type a command or not. This is a real turn off for me as I like to take my time, examine everything, draw a map, make myself a cuppa or whatever… I don’t want to be stressing about running out of time. This may well prove to be a deal-breaker on this particular game, only time will tell.

It is actually possible to slow the timer down by entering the command ‘slow’. This certainly helps things but still doesn’t stop my anxiety levels whilst playing…

 

Border Zone ‘Feelies’

 

As with all Infocom games there’s plenty of extras packed inside the slide out tray.

 

Border Zone

Sliding out the box insert

 

Border Zone is no exception here with lots of extra goodies tucked inside the box insert.

 

The Border Zone box insert

 

Starting with the standard stuff first, there’s the instruction manual, a reference card for the C64 version of the game, the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, and a registration card.

 

Border Zone

Feelies galore…

 

Also included is a map of the border between Frobnia and Litzenburg and a business card from ‘Riznik’s Antiques’. Additionally there’s an ‘I am Frobnia – Fortunate Tourists Guide and Phrasebook’ to help set the scene. As I mentioned earlier there should also be a little book of matches but unfortunately that was missing from the box.

All in all this is a fantastic item and another worthy addition to my Infocom collection, albeit one that I may never finish due to the timer.

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Plundered Hearts by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Plundered Hearts

I was lucky enough to bag a few new adventure games for my collection in the run up to Christmas. One them was this, the big box release of Plundered Hearts by Infocom. I paid a little more than I probably should have as it’s quite a rare game and is in beautiful condition. It’s definitely been well cared for by its previous owner. It is resplendent with all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork inside its pristine box too.

 

Infocom Plundered Hearts back cover

Infocom Plundered Hearts back cover

 

This adventure tells the story of a young woman who sets sail for the West Indies in search of her sick father. Along the way you will encounter pirates, puzzles, vicious crocodiles and even romance.  This sounds like it could be a really good yarn and given the pirate subject matter has made its way into my play list quite near the top!

 

Plundered Hearts running on my Commodore 64

Ooer missus – Plundered Hearts running on my Commodore 64

 

Plundered Hearts ‘Feelies’

 

As always with Infocom games, a huge part of their appeal for me is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box. All of these bits and bobs came as standard with each copy of the game sold. No premium priced ‘special’ or ‘collectors’ editions here designed to fleece the customer. No siree, everyone got the same fully loaded edition. How times have changed – you’re lucky to get a sheet of paper listing the game controls these days!

 

Plundered Hearts

Sliding out the box insert

 

Happily Plundered Hearts is no exception here with lots of extra goodies tucked inside the box insert.

 

Plundered Hearts Contents

The Plundered Hearts box insert

 

There’s the instruction manual, a reference card for the C64 version of the game, the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, a registration card and a coupon book containing offers for other games and merchandise.

 

Plundered Hearts Feelies

Plundered Hearts Feelies

 

Incidentally there’s some great offers inside the coupon book but sadly it looks like I missed the expiration date by a few days…

 

Infocom T-Shirt Coupon

I’d definitely be taking advantage of this offer of a free Infocom T-Shirt if the coupon was still valid!

 

Opening up the blue velvet pouch reveals even more goodies… There’s a beautifully hand written letter from Jean Lafond helping to set the scene for the game. A 50 Guinea note from the Bank of St. Sinistra rounds off the list of feelies and looks pretty convincing although is sadly not legal tender in the UK.

 

Plundered Hearts Feelies

Letter and 50 guinea note contained within the blue velvet pouch

All in all this is a fantastic item and a very worthy addition to my Infocom collection.

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Moonmist by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Infocom Moonmist

My Infocom collection continues to grow and this time it’s thanks to the greybox release of ‘Moonmist’. It’s a lovely addition to my collection and has been well looked after by its previous owner. It came complete with all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork inside the box.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist back cover

 

Infocom have classified this particular release as being of an ‘Introductory Level’ which basically means it’s one of their easier titles. Not that I’m expecting it to be any kind of a walk in the park. As I’ve come to expect now, the disk still loads just fine, despite it’s advancing age.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist running on my Commodore 64

 

 

Moonmist ‘Feelies’

As always with Infocom games, a big part of their appeal is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box, all of which came as standard.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist box contents

 

Moonmist is no exception here with lots of extra goodies inside the box. First we have the ‘Legendary Ghosts of Cornwall’ book which forms part of the front inside cover. This sets the scene for our spooky adventure and also gives a few tips on how to play the game.

 

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Then we have two letters sent to you from you friend Tamara which also help set the scene. Next up is the Tresyllian Castle Visitor Guide which includes a handy map of the castle. There’s also an Infocom Passport (which is basically a product catalogue), disk loading instructions, registration card and of course the game itself on a 5.25″ floppy.

 

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist Goodies

 

Oh and one other thing too – an iron on transfer of the Moonmist logo! I bet when they were putting that in the box they never envisaged someone excitedly opening it up 35 years later. Needless to say I won’t be putting an iron anywhere near it!

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

The Witness by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

The Witness by Infocom

I was only saying in a recent post that it had been a while since I last came across an Infocom adventure. Then I stumbled onto this little beauty just a week later. It’s Infocom’s ‘The Witness’ in a ‘greybox’ release. It’s in amazing condition for it’s age and just like the last purchase, all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork are present and correct.

 

Infocom's The Witness Back Cover

Infocom The Witness Back Cover

 

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Not surprisingly, I’ve never had the pleasure of playing through this game before. I just couldn’t afford these sort of games back when they were originally released. As is often the case, this will be joining my ever growing retro game backlog. Definitely looking forward to playing this during a rainy Sunday afternoon soon though.

 

Infocom's The Witness running on my Commodore 64.

Infocom’s The Witness running on my Commodore 64.

 

The disk still loads just fine which is pretty amazing considering it’s about 36 years old! 5.25″ floppy disks just seem to be so much more reliable than the more modern 3.5″ ones that the Amiga used. Needless to say the loading time was pretty slow but it’s a text adventure so speed isn’t really an issue.

 

The Witness ‘Feelies’

As always with Infocom games, a big part of their appeal is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box. These weren’t special ‘collectors edition’ versions at inflated prices either, this was the standard release.

 

The Witness box contents

The Witness box contents

 

 

There’s loads of stuff included with The Witness. First we have the ‘Detective Gazette’ which forms part of the front inside cover. There’s also a suicide note, Western Union Telegram and a huge A3 double-sided newspaper called ‘The Register’.

 

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The coolest extra of all though has to be the book of matches with a name and number scribbled on the inside. A classic clue from many a detective film. Not sure if they are real, but they sure look like the real deal, not that I have any intention of using them!

 

The Witness book of matches

A book of matches with a name and number written inside…

 

Rounding off the contents we have an Infocom brochure and of course the 5.25″ floppy disk, instruction manual and even the original registration card. A far cry from a DVD in an empty clamshell case that passes as a physical game release these days!

 

The Witness game box contents

Just look at all that swag!

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Planetfall by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Planetfall Infocom

It’s been a while since I last came across an Infocom adventure that I don’t already own. Consequently when I spotted Planetfall a couple of weeks ago I snapped it up straight away. It’s in terrific condition for a 36 year old game and it looks like all the extra bits and bobs are present and correct.

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall Back Cover

 

A place for everything and everything in its place!

 

This is yet another game I’ve never had the pleasure of playing through before. As a result it will be joining my ever growing list of retro titles that I’m looking forward to completing at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future!

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall running on my Commodore 64.

 

Planetfall’s Extra Goodies

An Infocom game just wouldn’t be complete without a bunch of extra physical content included in the box. Planetfall is no exception. Tucked away in the two top pockets there’s a small book, “Today’s Stellar Control”, some intergalactic post cards, an instruction booklet and a some hand-written journal entries. Then in the two slots lower down there’s a plastic Stellar Patrol ID badge and the most important item of all, a floppy disk containing the game.

 

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Here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection, well the ones I’ve posted about anyway.

Infocom Wishbringer – Classic C64 Purchase

Wishbringer Infocom

I’m always looking to expand my text adventure collection so when I spotted this copy of Wishbringer by Infocom I had to snap it up. The spine is a little creased and there’s a small tear on the back but other than that it’s in excellent condition. It came with everything it should with the exception of the ‘magick stone’ which was basically just a glow in the dark plastic stone.

Most copies of Infocom games on sale now are missing one or more of these ‘feelies’ and those that aren’t are often being sold for silly amounts of money. For what I paid for this game I’m not bothered by this in the slightest, especially as the game loads up just fine off the floppy disk and everything is in such great condition.

 

Infocom Wishbringer

Wishbringer game box with opening screen of the game in the background

 

So what was included in the box? Well there’s the book, “The Legend of Wishbringer”, a 5.25″ Floppy disk containing the game, a sealed envelope (only to be opened when the game instructs you to do so!), a fold out map, instruction booklet and a catalogue of other Infocom games.

 

Infocom Wishbringer

This brings the number of Infocom games in my collection to 11 so there’s still an awful lot remaining for me to look out for!

 

I’ve never played this particular adventure before so I’m looking forward to giving it a go soon. Apparently Infocom classed this as ‘Introductory level’ so maybe it won’t be quite as punishing as some of their other games!

Here’s a few photos of the contents…

 

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Solo Flight – Classic C64 Purchase

Solo Flight Cover

Although I already own Microprose Solo Flight on cassette tape, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a decent copy of the disk version for quite some time now. Happily I recently came across a fine specimen, so here it is! The wallet case and insert are in pretty much mint condition, as is the instruction booklet. The three maps of the locations you can fly around in the game (Colorado, Washington and Kansas) also look brand new. Clearly this has either been very well looked after or not seen much use. The disk label is on wonky but it will have been like that from new, that’s just how they came sometimes unfortunately. I was delighted that the disk loaded up no problem first time around, but I’ll still make a backup copy just to be safe.

I used to play this game for hours on end back in the 80’s. The graphics are pretty basic and it probably runs at around 2 FPS but none of that mattered. It felt like you were really flying a light aircraft. I used to love doing the mail delivery missions too – provided a real sense of purpose to it all.

Here’s a few photos of the game…

Mercenary Escape from Targ – Classic C64 Purchase

Mercenary Escape from Targ

It’s been a while since I added a classic C64 game to my collection. Mercenary Escape from Targ takes the honours for being the first in 2019.

It’s in terrific condition, has no tears in the plastic wallet case and the cover insert hasn’t faded at all. It’s also complete with the instruction booklet and registration card and it booted up off the 5.25″ floppy disk first time!