What I've Been Playing This Week (aka Pile of Shame Sunday)

Screenshot from King's Quest IV
And they lived happily ever after...

The following post is part of a series of posts that are published every Sunday to update readers on what Mark G has been up to with respect to finishing off games on his "Pile of Shame". The games to target are picked by Choicest Games contributors Choona, Luke and myself. As I'll be talking about my progress through these games, there may be spoilers ahead, especially for games containing a narrative. Consider yourself warned.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

  • Picked by Me
  • Percentage Complete = 50%
I got very close to finishing the mission I have been stuck on the past few times but failed again. One part of the mission requires you to get to a transport ship and transport people off it yet it's patrolled by three Klingon cruisers and every few minutes they send another as a reinforcement. It's really tough playing solo and I think it's a mission that would benefit from having a fully human crew since the helmsman wouldn't be stupid enough to bump into things, not to mention it's tough directing him from the captain's chair. In general, it's just fiddly for one human captain to try and select all the various buttons and commands as mistakes will be made. I'm never quite sure whether selecting certain commands means there is the issue of "idle workers" afterwards (to borrow an RTS term) e.g. when telling the engineer to focus on repairing shields, once the shields are repaired, does she stop working on anything else? Or does she just default back to balanced repair afterwards? You'd hope it'd be the latter.

Tempted to give up on this game unless I'm able to find a decent crew online.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

  • Picked by Luke
  • Percentage Complete = 83%
Okay, played a bit more of Assassin's Creed this week.

Did some more trading using Kenway's Fleet (probably the only part of the game I don't find frustrating) although I came across a couple of trade routes that had tough opposition (e.g. a Man-o-War and a Frigate). Incidentally, I had a go against a Man-o-War with the Jackdaw too and got utterly decimated. Frigates I can handle quite easily, but Man-o-Wars are my next challenge. However, on a recent mission where Kenway steals a galleon, it actually made short work of man-o-wars.

The first time I tried the mission, I attempted to flee from my pursuers but as you could probably imagine, galleons aren't terribly fast or manoeuvrable, so I ended up dying because you couldn't leave the mission without becoming anonymous first (and in order to become anonymous, you need to be able to either outrun your enemies or make sure there are no enemies left). The second time I attempted the mission, I made sure to try the kill-all-opposition approach, but it was a pretty close shave... amazed that the galleon took such punishment though since it was able to take down 4 frigates, 2 man-o-wars and several gunboats and brigs, all on its own!

King's Quest IV

  • Picked by Choona
  • Percentage Complete = 100%
Urgh! The walkthrough I was following gave me the wrong directions! It told me to go to the west graveyard when in reality I had to go east! No matter, I got there in the end. One part of the game has you digging up a whole lot of graves in order to return lost items to ghosts. Despite altruistic motivations for doing so, there doesn't seem to be any point in helping all these ghosts until you finally gain access to a skeleton key which opens a crypt that contains Pandora's Box (of course). One thing I didn't like about these digging puzzles (and it's not entirely surprising since it's an early Sierra adventure) is that the shovel you use only has limited uses so if you end up digging willy-nilly, you'll lose the shovel and the game will reach a dead end.

Anyway, I finally finished King's Quest IV and the final stretch of the game is actually rather easy, at least when it comes to problem solving since it's mainly just navigating annoying stairs and pathways (hey, it wouldn't be a King's Quest game without them, right? 😊). When you finish the game though, there are things you can miss if you're too focused on the primary objective (of retrieving an amulet for the fairy Genesta) such as failing to return Pandora's Box and lock it away or freeing the unicorn from Lollote's stables.

Since I'm starting to move into SCI engine territory with respect to Sierra adventures (an engine Sierra used in their later games from the late 80s onwards), I think I'll keep on playing some more AGI ones which means I'll be playing the original Space Quest, original Police Quest and maybe even Leisure Suit Larry next.

[ The Pile of Shame ]