Old-School Mac Games: Uninvited

Monday, May 4, 2009
Unlike most people who play video games these days, I cut my teeth on early Macintosh games. Growing up, our first real computer we had around the house was a Mac SE (well, the real first one was a Trash 80, but that's a whole different story).

Though it was a tiny market, early Macs had a surprising amount of quality game software. One of my favorites was the MacVenture series of point-and-click adventure games. First released in 1985, the four MacVenture games can lay claim to being the very first point-and-click adventure games.

Taking advantage of the high-resolution graphics and the standard Mac window interface, the MacVenture games let a player simply drag items from the first-person screen int the inventory, or onto another item. The writing was top-notch, frequently witty, and in many of the games, downright unsettling.

While the series began with Deja Vu, my fondest memories of the MacVenture series was Uninvited, an atmospheric haunted house story, where the protagonist awakes to a crashed car and a missing little brother, and must venture into a creepy old mansion to rescue him.

While the games were made for the Mac originally, their popularity led to them being ported to other systems. The DOS and Amiga versions made the transition relatively unscathed, but the NES ports were savagely cut down, with huge portions of the gameworld excised, gameplay simplified, and most horrifyingly, most of the text was gutted and replaced with simple, short, declarative sentences. Unfortunately, the popularity of the NES compared to early-era Macs has meant that most of the people who know of Deja Vu, Uninvited, or Shadowgate, are only familiar with the simplified, zombie versions released for the NES.

So if you're hungering for a nostalgic trip to the early days of adventure gaming, grab an early Mac emulator for current-vintage Macs, or for other operating systems, including Windows and Linux, and dig up a copy of Uninvited (or Deja Vu or Shadowgate), and revel in the joys of really old-school adventure gaming.


Kári Tulinius said...

My fondest MacVenture memories are of Deja Vu, but I never played Uninvited.

Though my favorite mac game of all time is Dark Castle (its sequel, Beyond Dark Castle, was no slouch either).

Eldritch said...

Wow, that brings back a rush of memories, Kári. I loved Beyond Dark Castle (my younger self's reflexes were too slow for the original version). I haven't yet tried Return to Dark Castle, the modern-day reinvention of the series, but I'm tempted. Hmm... Maybe I should do a series on retro Mac gaming...

Pseudonym said...

Evidently there was a sequel to Shadowgate for the N64, released in 1999. I cannot tell you how weird I think that is.

StickHead said...

I've just become acquainted with the Atari ST version of this, but the Mac version looks a lot nicer.

It's amazing how atmospheric these games can be despite (because of?) their simple graphics and sound effects. I think modern devs can still learn a lot from these classics.

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