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 Post subject: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 9:55 am 
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Lately I've been trying out a bunch of old adventure games with DOSBox and my new MT-32. It's interesting to see the differences in the quality of games. LSL3, SQ3 and KQ4 (which, despite its kooky setting with all kinds of random things thrown together, is a lot of fun with puzzles that make sense) are among the good. Then there's Codename: ICEMAN. Has anyone here actually beaten this game? The game starts off interesting, making you think it's going to be a spy thriller, but the plot goes nowhere and I keep getting stuck in this horrible submarine simulation from hell. The gameplay is so terrible. It's hard to examine items on the screen, and it's near impossible to have conversations with other characters. What little dialogue there is will put you to sleep. The worst part is, once you get to the sub, the game doesn't even feel like an adventure game anymore. It seems like the game's writer was very lazy when coming up with responses to commands the player types in... most of the time the game gives you a "you just can't do that" type response to extremely basic and logical commands.

Maybe this game is the reason Jim Walls left Sierra? But didn't he do PQ3 after this? There are almost no true adventure game puzzles in the game (at least as far as I played). Too much of the gameply is using the manual to look up procedures that the game wants you to follow perfectly. It's such a shame. A spy series could have been a great addition to the Sierra line-up.

The only good things I can say about this game are that it has some cool, classic-looking EGA graphics and some great MT-32 music during the bar and dance scenes.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 3:55 pm 
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I couldn't agree more. The game starts off neat, and I do love the graphics. But the submarine simulation is HORRIBLE and you're right - the plot doesn't go anywhere. What a letdown that game was when I bought it!

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:03 am 
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Yep, from a technical standpoint the game is quite impressive. The graphics and animation (charming and effective even today!) and its MT-32 music and special effects are terrific... and even the sub simulation is well done, from a technical standpoint, that is... but the writer/designer really let down the player with the terrible gameplay (there are NO labels on the sub controls... it's way too complicated, and there's no room for error... the game delights in killing you for pushing the wrong unmarked button... and all the degrees and coordinates have to be just right... this feels like the majority of the game right here... I feel like I'm in trig math class when playing) and it lacks of ANY creative puzzles. It's just a bunch of writing stuff down and remember numbers and protocol. One review I read said the game felt like nothing more than a series of copy protection sequences... how true that is.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:12 pm 
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The worst Sierra game ever was a Disney game they made about the Jungle Book, which is ridiculously hard to find on the Internet. I bought it when I was a kid and tried to give it away to some friends, and every single one of them returned it to me because it was so bad! In fact, we have joked many times about giving it as a present to the Angry Videogame Nerd so that he could rant about it, and we might do it one of these days. I think it's the worst marketed game ever, rivaling even Big Rigs Racing (infamous because they had the guts to sell an unfinished game in pre-alpha state) and Rise of the Robots.

There's another Jungle Book game that is a platformer in the style of The Lion King or Aladdin, which is easier to find on the internet, the one I'm talking about doesn't even appear on Mobygames or The Home of the Underdogs.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:48 pm 
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I've never even heard of the Jungle Book game! That's cool.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:51 pm 
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pbpb33 wrote:
I feel like I'm in trig math class when playing

You've obviously never been in the control room of a submarine while it is underway. Bearing, headings, coordinates flying all around. It's crazy confusing.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:01 pm 
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navynuke04 wrote:
You've obviously never been in the control room of a submarine while it is underway. Bearing, headings, coordinates flying all around. It's crazy confusing.


The only submarine I've ever been in was the one at Disneyland. :o


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:13 pm 
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Little known fact: submarines were invented in Spain by Isaac Peral, which lived in my city, Cartagena. We still have the first working prototype in our docks, as a monument.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:28 pm 
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Cool, can you go inside it? I think I'd have a claustrophobic panic attack if I were in one of those subs... especially deep underwater.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:15 pm 
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I did finish Codename: Iceman. I even replayed it some years ago. But yeah, I agree with most opinions expresed here, the game was absolutely lacking in terms of puzzles, there were at least 3 continous sequences of SHOW YOUR ID in order to GET INTO BUILDING/ROOM/CAR (very poor thinking and boring gameplay).

Another thing that was terrible was that points are earned according to how well you managed the submarine sequences, so it was impossible to get full points (it was impossible to the the coordinates perfect and you never got 10 points in the iceberg field, no matter if you never crashed into an iceberg). Of course you could exploit the ENTER-THE-HARBOR 1 point to maximise your score, but that also tells you about the poor programming the game had.

No matter, I kinda enjoyed the sub simulation, once you learnt the controls it was kind of fun and challenging (the russian sub was quite hard to get) but all other aspects of the game were very poor. The story telling was absurd at times (same spy from Tahiti found at Tunisia? C'mon :rolleyes).

Anyway, I think the game didn't do so bad at sales, since Jim Walls not only stayed to make PQ3 but there was an Iceman sequel planned (I remember reading a Sierra bulletin about it somewhere). But since PQ3 was also a bit of a failure in terms of logic storytelling and puzzles, maybe the two games were the end for Jim Walls at Sierra.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:52 pm 
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Part of the game will live on inside QFG2VGA. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:50 pm 
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Erpy wrote:
Part of the game will live on inside QFG2VGA. :)


You mean the Saurus Repair Shop, right? True... :D

And there also the periscope in QFG1EGA!

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:45 am 
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haradan wrote:

Anyway, I think the game didn't do so bad at sales, since Jim Walls not only stayed to make PQ3 but there was an Iceman sequel planned (I remember reading a Sierra bulletin about it somewhere). But since PQ3 was also a bit of a failure in terms of logic storytelling and puzzles, maybe the two games were the end for Jim Walls at Sierra.


Its Wikipedia article says the game didn't sell well, and that a proposed Codename: PHOENIX never got made. Who knows if that info is correct, though. The entry also says the game was supposed to be set in 2004. Is that right??? I played up to the sub part, and I don't ever remember reading anything about 2004, but maybe I wasn't following the plot closely enough. I guess I was too engrossed in the ever-so-thrilling gameplay that often consisted of nothing but "Show ID" and "take ID" repeatedly to let myself be taken by the plot. Anyway, everything about the game (the cars, the fashion, the music, the cold war storyline, etc.) seemed so 1980's!! It seems like they didn't even TRY to make anything seem at least a little futuristic.

I didn't have the original documention when I was playing the game. I was just using walkthroughs and other cheats that I found online. When playing a game that feels like one big copy protection sequence, not having the original documentation can be a bit of a drawback.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:54 pm 
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I actually loved this game. I found the near-impossibly difficult submarine section incredibly gratifying. I thought the graphics were cool... memorable for me!

I also loved the music - in particular the love theme song which sounds beautiful on the mt-32.

Also, a fun fact maybe some of you might not know... the guy on the cover art is modeled after Jim Wall's son. I was lucky enough as a wee boy to have popped by the Oakhurst office for a tour while they were painting this particular slipcover. And right on the next desk over was Kenn Nishiuye's painting for the "Hero's Quest" box - unfinished.

Had I known how big a collector I would have become, I would have swiped those and stuck them under my shirt! ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:59 pm 
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also, Jim Walls left Sierra and went on to work for Tsunami Games - a Sierra spin-off composed of quite a few ex-Sierra employees. The game he made there was called Blue Force. Nowhere near as pretty a box cover as his Sierra games. ;)

Kinda blah - what do you think?

eep!

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LOL! I love the lazy "box" around the word Force!! Scintillating! :O

Interestingly enough this box was done by the same artist as Iceman... maybe they didn't have enough paint colours at the new office.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:12 pm 
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interesting stuff eriq. haha, the art made me laugh!

Anyway, I did finish the game but the sub sequences were so frustrating!! It was refreshing to play the other parts and be on the beach and what not. I liked talking to the women in the club too he he he. Anyway, it could have been better but it was interesting overall, not my favorite. Back then I used to play pretty much any decent looking adventure I could get my hands on!

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:53 pm 
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Box beauty or no, I'm still intrigued about how the game actually played....and what other games Tsunami Games made.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:03 am 
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Back in the 90's I remember reading negative reviews of Blue Force in some computer game magazines. I also remember reading an article in one of those magazines where the editor took the unprecedented step of writing a piece blasting Tsunami for using outrageously misleading marketing tactics. Apparently Tsunami had used quotes from the magazine's review to promote the game in ads or on packaging. I can't remember exactly what the quotes were, but it was something like this: where the original magazine review might have said, "There is no way we would ever waste one minute on such a game. There are plenty of better options out there!" the Tsunami ad was selective in its quoting and printed something like, "Computer Gaming World declares 'There is no... game... better...!' ... if you liked Police Quest, you will love Blue Force!" :lol It was that blatantly dishonest. Serious chutzpah there.

I wonder if Jim Walls was persona non grata at Sierra after his involvement with Tsunami. That must have been pretty awkward, since Tsunami was also located in Oakhurst, CA.


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:01 am 
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I know that Jim Walls had some kind of a falling out with Sierra or someone in particular there or something. Which is why he didn't make PQ4.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:21 am 
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Jim Walls games suck.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:32 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:40 am 
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Quest For Glory Fan wrote:
Jim Walls games suck.


Personally, I think PQ1 is one of the best AGI games ever. And PQ2 wasn't bad at all. And while PQ1VGA was pretty lame in comparison to its AGI counterpart, it was only after Iceman and PQ3 that my opinion of Jim Walls really started to decay.

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:15 am 
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Agreed. PQ1 is a classic, PQ2 was even better. And even though PQ3 was lacking it had a great story (but that's due to Jane Jensen not Walls).

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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:58 am 
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Jim Walls is now a movie producer? I just looked him up on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1356968/combined

He's listed as an associate producer for a 2008 movie. IMDB says he was a tv actor in the 1970's and an optician for 7 years before working for the California Highway Patrol. All that in addition to creating a classic computer game series... what varied life experiences!!


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 Post subject: Re: Codename: ICEMAN... Sierra's worst adventure game?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:23 pm 
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The AGI version of Police Quest is one of my most favorite Sierra games of all time. What a great game.

Blue Force is... interesting, for sure.


Bt

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