Amusingly enough, it works perfectly fine through DOSBox. Not the slightest skipping or lag whatsoever. AWESOME. I was quite eager to dig my way through this ancient game once again, and I am taking you all with me.
I know that a lot of people can't get their hands on this game (1995 and FIVE GIGS. SEVEN CDS) and a lot of people don't have time or don't have the inclination to play ancient DOS games that, and this thought disturbs me, might actually be older than some of the people reading this.
Either way, I've decided to chronicle my adventures through Phantasmagoria fairly thoroughly, so you can enjoy the game LIKE YOU WERE PLAYING IT. Or something.
Really, I just want to show you guys what used to terrify me some ten years ago.
As I suspected, Phantasmagoria is cheesy and melodramatic. However, and this might just be old memories kicking up for it, it still creeped me out a bit to play it. Not as much as it once did, but this kind of unsettled feeling was still there. Congrats, Sierra.
Either way, I played through most of the first two chapters. There are seven chapters in all! Screenshots, mp3s, and movies await you. What was this controversial game really like? Can a game still hold up over ten years? Let's find out!
Haha wow your actually interested? I'M SHOCKED. LET'S BEGIN.
This is the opening screen. Tadah! Since this is my first time through, New Game is key.
Thus begins the game's first cinematic. We cut to a shot of some guy with a mullet setting up his camera. This takes entirely too long.
"What's with all those lines" you ask? Later on you can change the vid quality to be higher. the videos for download here should be pretty good quality, so don't worry about it.
Anyway, ponytail-guy takes a bunch of pictures of random weird creepy houses until he closes in on THE HOUSE. Or castle, really. It's a frigging castle. We ZOOM in the doors into a trippy other world with horrible fanged monsters reaching out with DEAD EYES.
Or rather, 90s CG eyes, but you know. Same thing.
That's the Throne of Terror! At least, that's what I think it's called. I'll call it that so I can just call that other chair The Chair later on. The Throne, if I remember correctly, had a hideously gory death scene. WHICH YOU WILL GET TO SEE, EVENTUALLY.
At any rate, it turns out it's all the main chick's dreams. Her name is Adrienne, which is something I didn't learn until chapter two cause I was either not paying attention or no one said her name. Anyway. Adrienne wakes up and is like OMG NIGHTMARE PANT PANT and then I can't exactly remember what happened.
Then she actually does wake up for real. Adrienne is married to Ponytail-man (who is actually named Don) and is like OMG NIGHTMARE SO SCARY HOLD ME and Don is like WOAH CHILL. Then they have sex which I did not screencap, tho you can see it in the intro video.
SO. Let's get this party started!
Phantasmagoria works off a system similar to King's Quest VII, which I find terribly amusing. Kq7 was also split into chapters, and you could jump around as you pleased. Altho I coulda just skipped around here, that would be lame and I want THE FULL EXPERIENCE so I started with Chapter One.
It's a castle, I swear. Later on I went and poked at the settings and got rid of the lines but you'll just hafta tolerate em for now.
Don and Adrienne meet at the kitchen table to discuss the nightmare and how they "didn't get much sleep last night" (oh, you two! what will you say next?)
I can't remember exactly but I bet there was exposition here about how they just moved in and that it's a scary house blah blah.
RANDOM BOX APPEARS ON THE TABLE and both Adrienne and Don show some confusion at it being there. Don asks what's in it, Adrienne responds that she doesn't know and that she'll check it out. I'd say "nice packing skills" but heck I've done that. I'll let Adrienne slide with this one.
THE SNOWMAN ORNAMENT. I remember this baby clearly. This ornament was significant, as Adrienne explains that Don gave it to her I think the night he proposed to her. Later on this snowman becomes extremely important. This is so Sierra.
SO let's start the game! Here are the actual in-game graphics. This isn't that bad, considering. While the background is pretty obviously 90s cg, the way that Adrienne is situated on it isn't too jarring most of the time. Sometimes her motion can be jerky, but other times she moves really smoothly. Basically, the format works in that that little icon can be moved around the screen. Like KQ7 (Roberta Williams liked this method apparently), the cursor remains inactive unless you mouse over a part of the room you can interact with. This cuts down on the "You can't do that" messages, but also kinda limits what you can screw around with.
If you don't do anythin for a while, Adrienne just looks around and wastes your time. I tend to try and get her moving as fast as possible so she doesn't start looking around and sighing. That gold thingy is the icon.
This is Adrienne's "default" pose. Most often she stands like this after your done doing something. It's a bit wooden but hey, I can understand why. It makes things easier. I remembered playing through the first chapter by myself some long time ago, so I knew that there were matches in the cabinet to the right. So I nabbed em and ran off.
This rug covered a trap door in the...closet? Cabinet? What's that thing called where you put food in and it's not a refridgerator? I am totally blanking.
Larder? Is that what I'm thinking of?
Either way, Adrienne's ropy little arms couldn't pry open the trapdoor, so it's time to explore the house. Most of chapter one is spent exploring. While Adrienne doesn't move TOO slow, she moves slow enough that this has more of a "chore" feel to it than anything else. Meh.
There are pictures of this lady all over the house. I can't remember who she is and no one has mentioned it yet. Whenever Adrienne looks at her painting this ominous music plays. SPOOKY.
Aha, a poker!
That little hand is the "wait, we're doing something" symbol. Adrienne just stares at the fire wistfully.
Outside on the grounds. Such a cheerful place!
wtf is this
WTF WHY WOULD YOU HAVE A FACE ON YOUR HOUSE WTF
That certainly looks sturdy. Unlike King's Quest 2, this thankfully did not snap and plunge you to your untimely death if you crossed it too many times. I will never forgive that game for that.
A very healthy tree. Don't you think?
The main hallway.
This little fortune telling machine I think gives you a free token every chapter. Then it gives you a rather not-vague fortune.
Boop boop boodle boodle boop boop booooboop.
These are the kind of fortunes you just toss away, especially in such a lovely not evil house.
This is a huge frigging main room. That
gay opulent door leads to the main Theater, tho I'm technically not supposed to know that yet. It's still locked as of chapter two. Either way.
Checkin out the baaar
Did you guess which one she'd pick up?
I can't remember if this stuff becomes important later.
You can wind up this piano once. At least, as far as I've experienced.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They have a cat named Spaz. I am almost positive that Spaz will be violently killed by the end of this game. Or forgotten. Either one.
THIS IS A VERY NORMAL LAYOUT FOR A HALLWAY WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.
The door here was locked! Curses!
Adrienne will primp in any mirror you tell her to. Whenever I do it with this mirror there's this ominous music playing. I'm assuming I'll see a murder here later.
Up the stairs! I suspect that tapestry in the background will abruptly change for no reason later.
Lean further, honey. No, further.
Aaaah I remember this room. I remember the bed in this room to be more specific.
At this point I went and saved. Also changed the video settings. you can also set the game to "censored" but that's just lame, yo.
You can sit on those chairs. I don't know why you can just yet. It's very pointless so far.
WHO COULD THIS BE. SURELY NO ONE IMPORTANT.
I thought she'd pick up the ring but she left it. Okay, whatever.
I found these things in the dresser. Are these cigarettes? I can't tell.
CINEMATIC. I clicked on the bed. I specifically remembered this one.
LOOKS SAFE ENOUGH.
I'm sure you already have an idea of what will happen.
Was it all a dream? WAS IT?
HANDS HANDS ALL OVER MY YOUNG NUBILE BODY
It had this really goofy wiggly effect all over it that I forgot about. Hilarious.
If I knew this would happen, why did I click? I knew I wouldn't die. I remembered that much.
Adrienne wakes up and freaks out.
Don: wtf is with the screaming in here
Adrienne: OMG OMG OMG THE BED GRABBED ME
Don: piffle it's totally fine
Don: It's okay honey mwah mwah
Then he went back to work, leaving me to wander the house again.
There are an awful lot of bedrooms in this house.
This bed did not attempt to molest Adrienne.
Ooo, a note in the drawers!
I still don't know who these people are just yet. It'll probably be more clear later. Basically, Marie is cheating on her husband with this Gaston guy or something. Or maybe her husband is Gaston? Someone named Gaston is involved.
More ominous music.
Don's workshop thingy. He's a photographer. Adrienne is a novelist. I have no idea how they afforded this MASSIVE CASTLE.
Don complains that the drains are clogged. This is important. No seriously. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Don: Drains are clogged. I don't know why! It's like something horrible is stuck in there.
Adrienne: Well, I'll just keep wandering around and being useless. Don't mind me.
Don: ::whacks things with wrench::
THERE THAT'S IT THAT'S THE CHAIR. That chair is where the most gruesome death I can remember happened. The images from that have stuck in my mind ever since then. For ten years even. I can still remember the first time I saw that death and feeling sick to my stomach. I wonder if it still has that power today? When I saw that chair, I actually did feel somewhat sick. Ah, memories. In my defense, that is a creepy looking chair.
That gramophone might have been involved. Or maybe it was a normal funnel. Ugh. I feel sick thinking about it now.
Chair: DON'T TOUCH ME >O ::zap::
you look in the mirror and it plays this ominous music as the chair crackles and sparks behind you.
you can't see it here but it was doing it!
THREE FLOORS CHRIST this house is too big.
A nursery! What a lovely nonthreatening place. Hey, a teddybear!
Notice the ectoplasmic amorphous thing hovering above the crib.
See, if I moved into a new house and I saw such a weird blob thing like this, I don't think I would stick around.
Much less STICK MY HAND IN IT.
Adrienne: My god what is this. <--direct quote
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE LADY
This door is locked and the key is stuck in the keyhole. Immediately I was like "hey, I'll stick the newspaper under the door and rattle the key out with my fireplace poker" but no they don't let you do that. Whatever. I guess maybe in a later chapter there will be something about it.
Oh this view is comforting.
wtf kind of shower is that that's just ridiculous
There's lipstick, lotion, a brush, and some other random stuff here by the sink. You can use all of it. I'm assuming there's some purpose for it later and it's not just there to bore me to death with long pointless cinematics.
Now what on earth kind of room is this. What would you use this room for? What the heck is that thing in the center?
Adrienne: wtf is this
Me: I concur.
I specifically recall this painting painting itself throughout the game. Watch me be wrong, but seriously. I remember something creepy about that painting.
A landscape? Who knows.
This was in that snakebasket you mighta seen in the other shot. I have no idea what it is. Leiderhosen?
This was the finished painting next to the other one. I'm not sure who this lady is just yet.
I anticipate horrible things from this TV.
Her laptop! Adrienne says that she didn't remember leaving it on. Duh, the ghosts have to finish that screenplay by Monday.
Outside once again. Why hey, a car!
Snerk. There's a name for a town.
This here's the Real Estate agent. He's a sleazeball. Just imagine a sleazy real-estate agent voice and you're golden. He hits on Adrienne, who does not appreciate it.
Adrienne: Did you give us all the keys to the house?
Sleazeball: Heeehh I sure did little lady
Adrienne: NUH UH SOME DOORS ARE STILL LOCKED
Sleazeball: REALLY well meeeeehhh I dunno then
Adrienne: Screw you I'll find them myself.
Another random house nearby.
Dog: BACK OFF
Snerk. I'm sure this guy is a fine upstanding citizen with a name like that.
Front gates of the castlehouse. Spermheads.
wtf a barn
I WISH MY HOUSE HAD A CRYPT IN THE BACKYARD
Can't get in just yet.
I totally blanked on this screen and as such I can't remember what happens here later. Eh.
"Too far to jump" she says. WHAT I WAS NOT PLANNING ON IT
Deciding that I had enough screwing around, I returned to the trapdoor and set to work with my trusty poker.
I think they're called a larder. Or a pantry. Pantry'll work.
The matches lit my way. Tadah.
There was a SPOOKY moment for the match went out but Adrienne lit the lamp so that was no big deal.
A wine cellar!
Yes, stick your head in further honey.
Nothing happened. lame. I poked around a bit more.
OH HEY A DUNGEON THAT'S A PERFECTLY NORMAL THING TO HAVE IN A HOUSE
She tastes this "wine" and says it's good. I seriously doubt that it's wine.
With my new key, I decide to test it on the crazy doors.
This shot just makes me uneasy.
I thought maybe NOW I could poke out the other key with my new key but no. No you can't.
After wandering around like an idiot, I finally remembered that one other locked door and went to investigate.
Aha, a study! I remember this place.
Tadah, name of the game. Also, first hints that this house is more than just bizarrely designed and creepy. CRAZY MAGICIANS LIVED HERE.
Ah, fireplace. We meet again.
This is one of those tricky Sierra things. You hafta look at that thing in the special item investigation menu thing, find the button, and click it. THEN it turns into a letter opener, and you can use it to dig away the fireplace. This drove me crazy the first time I did this.
Lookin through the hole in the fireplace, there is an altar! This definitely warrants further investigation.
Scrape scrape. My game froze here for some reason, so I had to restart it up. Not cool to backtrack some fifteen minutes. I resolved to save before I thought a cinematic would show up. Moral of Sierra games: SAVE OFTEN.
Back to the lame vid quality again. Ah well.
Broken letter opener!
But that's the good carpet!
And the fireplace is open!
This is totally not alarming or a bad sign at all.
That big book and the box? Harmless.
Adrienne goes and looks at the book.
Aha, there's a box under this book!
Carno's family tree! Or so Adrienne says.
Meanwhile, the clasp on the box falls off and it makes rumbly noises.
Adrienne: :B :B
You know really, you could probably fix that.
A better shot of the book.
This is precisely the moment in the game where everything goes to #$%^. This is it. Me clicking on this box will doom everyone in the house. This is the turning point. LET'S GO.
Shouldn't have opened that box.
The green thing swirls around for a bit.
Evil: NO I WANT A MALE VICTIM
Shwoop out the fireplace
Up the stairs
Down the hallway
Evil: HI DON
Don: OH #$^#
Adrienne: What was that thump
Adrienne: Are you alright Don you aren't evil or anything are you
Don: Nah I just got attacked by a lamp. But I HAD JUST TIGHTENED THE SCREWS. ::dramatic stab of music::
Don: How could a lamp have attacked me after I JUST TIGHTENED THE SCREWS?
Don: weh weh
Adrienne expresses concern and asks what Don wants for dinner. Don says he isn't hungry and is probably going to bed after some tuna (?). Adrienne says that she's pretty tired too (from all that doing nothing I suppose) and they both conk out. END CHAPTER ONE.
Hey wait, wasn't it November?
Adrienne actually doing some writing.
Don: WHERE ARE YOU
Adrienne: hi honey I'm just writing
Don: FROTH RAGE DID YOU GET MY DRAIN CLEANER
Don: I JUST ASK ONE THING YOU STUPID WHORE I JUST WANT DRAIN CLEANER GOD
Adrienne: You didn't ask me for drain cleaner
Don: D0N'T TELL ME WHAT I DID OR DIDN'T SAY YOU DUMB SLUT I JUST WANT THE DRAIN CLEANER GO TO TOWN AND GET IT FOR ME BEFORE I SMACK YOU UP
Adrienne: Well that's not very nice.
DON: AJIAGJIAARRA RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRR ::storms off::
This entire argument is hilarious. No seriously. I'm surprised that Adrienne didn't get more angry but hey, whatever.
Nope, still the same.
Nope, still the same.
Nope, still the same.
No scary death cinematic yet!
Altho the gramaphone did play some weird music later.
Adrienne: "Did I do something wrong?"
Don: "Nothing more than usual." ::slams door::
VERBATIM FROM THE GAME. BUUUUUUUURN.
Note still the same. Also what is with that lamp in the back there.
Adrienne: Dum de dum getting some drain cleaner for Doooon Don wants me to get drain cleaner for hiiiim
Adrienne: what the music
Ooo, more fortunes!
PFFF THAT MEANS NOTHING
HMM. If he's evil, he must be an alcoholic! That is how it works in horror things like this.
Lower than before, says Adrienne! Haha, I was right! If that's some kind of liquor, anyway. I don't know.
Meanwhile, off to the general store to get the drain cleaner.
This fellow's name is Harv.
"Careful" says Harv. "This stuff has sulfuric acid in it."
THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Adrienne: Hmm...sulfuric acid. ::eyebrow raise, smirk::
Harv: You people new?
Adrienne: Yeah, we just moved into the old Carnovache (Carnovashe?) house.
GLASSES COME OFF.
Harv: CARNOVACHE WHAT
Adrienne: Why does everyone always get all weird whenever I tell them that?
Harv: Well, a bunch of people died there in weird ways. And the guy who lived there and HIS WIFE died in weird ways. And people say its haunted. That Wyrmshadow guy knows more.
Adrienne: Well maybe I'll go check it out
Harv: Fine go ahead.
This means "GET ONE" in a Sierra game.
Mmm, soup bone.
Dog: ALRIGHT WOOHOO ::runs off::
High-class security in Nipawomsett.
That's the most realistic door I've ever seen.
Lady: WHO THE #%$# ARE YOU
Adrienne: Hi can I talk to Malcolm
Lady: $%&$ NO GET LOST ::slam::
Oh hey, the barn's open!
I remember that broken carriage for some reason.
There are rustly sounds coming from that open stall! It is my duty to investigate.
But first, pulley.
Okay now let's go.
Adrienne: Helloooooo ::investigates strange noise::
Oh Spaz, you silly cat! What a scare you gave Adrienne! Ha ha!
A bat checks Adrienne out.
Spaz: Screw this I'm outta here.
May Spaz just walk out of the game at this point and not be violently killed. I think he will be tho.
Nothin else here! Welp, time to go back to the house.
Still the same.
Still the same.
Something has got to happen with this at some point.
Oh hey, there's a book in the box!
And there's the main symbol!
Adrienne says it's full of Latin. Truly the language of Satan.
OH WELL PROBABLY NOT IMPORTANT.
Oh hey there's a note in the drawer
ZOOLTAAAAN ::hand symbol::
So this is where that weird music is coming from!
wtf that horse has two heads
At this point, a baby's crying filled the air.
OMG GUYS THE CHAIR IS ROCKING BY ITSELF
AND IT'S MOVING OMG GUYS
Yeah get closer to it. That's a good idea.
Some lady was singing some weird song here.
Adrienne decides this is something that Don doesn't really need to know about, when you get down to it, and moves on.
Anyway, at this point I was supposed to find Don in the barn but I didn't see him there. I probably missed a turn or something. I'll go back and find him later.
Here's the weird song that played when the chair was rocking
An example of the fine voiceacting in the game.