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It's been nothing but games here lately, but this entry is about to change everything. I think it's safe to say it will change your perception of reality forever. Ok, that's stretching it a bit [only a bit, though], but what I'm about to show you, might just come in handy if you're a Windows XP user. So, you often use Microsoft's Notepad, but sometimes you wish it had more functionality to it? Notepad2 might be an answer to your problems.


Notepad2 is a free, open source Notepad alternative that comes with such features as syntax highlighting for Assembly, C, HTML, Java, PHP, Python, batch scripts, among others. It also supports encoding and newline conversion, bracket matching and automatic tag closing for **ML. The list of features is long and to read more about them, feel free to check out official Notepad2 website or this article on Wikipedia.


Since Notepad2 is a great tool that I'm really fond of, I made a small piece of software that will replace the original Microsoft Notepad with Notepad2. Because Windows doesn't really allow you to simply delete and replace the original notepad.exe, you'll need a way of forcing this, and that's where my Notepad Replacement Script comes in. Just download it, place it in your Windows directory and choose a suitable option from the menu. The installation is completely reversible and 100% safe. To download the Notepad2 insstallation click on one of the mirrors below. And remember, this program will work on Windows XP only. It doesn't matter which Service Pack you have, but it still has to be XP.


Since we're already on a subject of homebrew software, I'll take this opportunity to link to one of my PlayStation intros that I wrote back in 2006. I have recently made an entry for it on Pouet.net, so feel free to check it out. You'll need a PlayStation emulator to run it. I recommend ePSXe. I have tested it on my Windows XP and it works just fine. Aside from displaying some visual effects, the intro also plays music, so if you can't hear it, check out another emulator or sound plugin, or run the intro on your PlayStation. That's it for today! Below are the mirrors for the Notepad Replacement Script. Grab it while it's still up.

● - Notepad Replacement @ Easy Share
● - Notepad Replacement @ RapidSpread
● - Notepad Replacement @ Megaupload
PR

Today, after many weeks of waiting, package containing my Sam & Max: Season 2 stuff had arrived. To my surprise it wasn't a cardboard box like the usual Telltale packages, but a regular envelope with bubblewrap. Fortunately nothing got damaged.


I was lucky this time around and I didn't get slapped with additional tax fee. I've also noticed that instead of the usual green declaration sticker, they used a different one. Well, the customs declaration information is basically the same, buy maybe it was the different look that threw customs off. Again, lucky me.


The way things work with Sam & Max these days is that the game is split into episodes which later become seasons. These episodes are released once every two months or so and are distributed via Telltale's website. You can buy a single episode or you can buy a whole season, which is of course cheaper in the end and you also get a disc release, once the season is complete.


The disc contains all of the episodes that you can also download via your Telltale account, plus some extras. We have trailers, outtakes, special movie features and hours of developers' commentary for the ingame cutscenes. The disc is a hybrid, so you can pop it into any DVD player and watch the extras. Stick it into a DVD drive and you can access additional goodies like wallpapers or a soundtrack sampler.


In other words, there's a ton of content to keep you entertained. It will take some time to play through all of the episodes and add to that many hours of extras and you have a game worth everything you paid for it. If the game and extras aren't enough, Telltale can supply you with some additional junk.


The case file. It's basically an envelope filled with items you see in the game. It's rather cheap. For $5.99 you'll get some neat collectibles so if you're a fan, imagine how neat it would be to have a napkin from Bosco's or a postcard from the moon [both of these came with season one case file]. If you're unsure whether you should get it or not, let me just tell you that season one case file is already sold out and people are paying $50 for it on eBay.


So, what's in the case file this time? Telltale really did a great job, surpassing what they did last time, and I was already impressed back then. You get a punch card, a Tiny Tiki coaster, a Soultrain token [made of metal and really heavy for its size], The Friendly Demon Song mini CD [which contains six tracks plus a hidden message - a definite highlight of this eclectic item package] complete with vinyl print on the disc and scratchy vinyl sound and a postcard.


I am really happy that Telltale is doing this. There was little to none merchandise sold when the original Sam & Max: Hit the Road game came out back in '93. Plus if you didn't live in the US, there was no way of getting a hold of anything. Today we have internet and everything is easy, so buy your collectibles while you still can. If you delay, you might regret it in a few years.


The soundtrack, as usual, doesn't disappoint. Jared Emerson-Johnson did a great job composing some fine jazzy beats and catchy tunes. This kind of music won't appeal to everyone, so of all the items here, this is the one you should buy only if you really enjoyed the music while playing the game. Or if you're a collector and you just have to own it along with every single piece of Sam & Max merchandise.


We get two CDs packed with audio directly from the game. One thing I've noticed is that some of the tunes loop a couple of times. That's fine, but the second CD has some additional audio stored on it in mp3 format. I'd rather have the looped tracks shorter and have as many of the mp3's as possible present on the disc as audio tracks.


There is plenty of additional mp3 music on the disc two. Music from cutscenes and trailer is included here, along with an explanation why Telltale chose to include compressed music. The fact of the matter is, there was simply too much music composed for Season Two and Telltale had a two disc limit for the soundtrack. That being said, I still would have preferred the loops being cut down to size so at least one more track could fit.


At least the mp3's are encoded in 320 kbps and the bitrate is constant. Let's hope that for the next season, if the amount of music will be equally huge, the two disc limit will change to three. I'll pay the extra buck, Telltale. Don't worry. I'm a loyal customer and a loyal Sam & Max fan.


So now I have two seasons, two case files and two soundtracks before me, and even though I have damn cold and a headache, I'm happy as a peach. Season One for the Wii is out, so if you haven't bought the PC version and you feel that pointing and clicking with the wiimote is more up your alley, buy it, play it and laugh, laugh, laugh.


- A small update. Due to YouTube idiocy that caused the deletion of my account, videos posted in this entry no longer work. I was careless enough to delete the originals once the upload to YouTube was done, so there's no easy way of restoring these. I am planning on uploading these again, this time to Nico Nico Douga. Please, check back later if you're still interested.

Few weeks ago, I have finally managed to track down a copy of Goblins Quest 3, and a CD version at that. I already own the disc version but if you have played both disc and CD versions of, let's say, Lucas Adventures' games, you know that the difference can be quite big. That is also the case with Goblins Quest 3.


The place I found this shiny gem was, of course, eBay. Believe it or not, I was the only one to bid on this item and I bought it for just $4.95. An incredibly low price, considering the fact that Goblins Quest 3 hardly ever shows up. You can always find the first game of the series, the second one is quite common aswell, but not the third. Oh well, my gain is everyone else's loss and I'm fine with that. Who wouldn't be?


While my Gobliins 2: The Prince Buffoon CD is an european release and was published by Coktel Vision themselves, Goblins Quest 3 CD that I purchased was published by Sierra. It was Sierra who decided about the name change, thus changing the title from the original Goblins 3 to Goblins Quest 3. If you spot a release with Goblins 3 written on the box, it's the one released by Coktel Vision, most likely european.


So what's the difference between the disc version and the floppy version? Actually the difference is quite big. The CD versions of previous games didn't add much besides the CD Audio track. Gobliins 2 for example, is still just 4.5 megabytes of data on a CD, plus four demo versions of other Coktel Vision games, including Inca and Ween. These take up to 7.5 megabytes. The rest is an audio track, without which the game will have no music, other than ocasional sound effects.


Gobliins 2, the CD version, was basically the floppy version plus an audio track. Goblins Quest 3 however differs from the floppy version alot. First of all, we have animation. When the game is started, an animated Coktel Vision logo will appear, followed by an introduction movie. After the intro sequence we see a start screen and we can begin our adventure. The floppy version doesn't have any of the animations and jumps directly from the start screen displaying credits, to the first location of the game.


Coktel Vision did try to make the gaming experience complete for the owners of each version. While the compact disc features both speech and a high quality CD soundtrack, the floppy version features synthesized music. Speech was however replaced by on screen messages. The addition of intro and other animations dramatically increased the overall size of the data contained on the CD. While the floppy version is about 7.5 megabytes, the data on the CD, not counting the audio track, comes down to about 113 megabytes.


Goblins 3 / Goblins Quest 3 is to this date my favorite game in the series. Packed with tons of humor it will entertain you aswell make you laugh and think. The gameplay in Goblins series is based on a concept that won't appeal to everyone. You simply have to think, combine things, think again and combine again. The puzzles are logical but it will take time before you crack this title. I always thought about it this way: If it's hard and you're still having fun, try to finish it and don't give up. Finishing a hard game is much more rewarding than speeding through an easy one, which you forget within a week from the day you've played it.


I have included two videos in this blog entry, so that you dear reader, could compare the CD version with the floppy release. The video at the top of this entry is a quick play-through of the first location and was made using the CD version of the game. The other video, just under these very words, shows the same quick run-through and was done using the floppy version. Both recordings are made from the moment the game executable boots.


If you want to get to know me and my gaming habits, you should know that I love good adventure games. I'm not one of those who will go hardcore and play the oldest of them. I want the game to be good, look good and sound good. That's why I will be eternally greatful to LucasArts, because even though they suck sweaty balls right now, with their Star Wars crap, they used to make top notch adventure games. And so did Sierra.



I love reeditions. Despite not looking like much, they usually offer the latest and most compatible versions of the games fitted with some additional patches. When I saw King's Quest Collection in a bargain bin and read that it was Windows XP compatible, I just bought it without thinking twice. Any adventure game fan should own this, if only for the sake of King's Quest V and VI, which are my personal favorites, with emphasis on the sixth game.



Pleased with myself and with my new purchase, I headed home. I wanted to see what this collection is worth and what did Sierra do to make the older DOS games compatible with Windows XP. I installed it, and as it turns out, Sierra didn't go out of their way at all. Their compatibility with current operating systems is ensured by the cunning use of DOSbox. That's right. King's Quest I - VI boot through DOSbox. Version 0.68 at that.



But who am I to complain. After all I bought seven games for a price of one. Or even below the regular price of a single retail title, since I found it in a bargain bin. Maybe all this is just for the better. Original DOS games should work better and better with the constantly improved DOSbox. I even run my King's Quest VI through the DoSbox 0.72 which I have installed, instead of the solution Sierra have supplied.



Is this collection worth buying then? Of course it is, and you should grab it while you still can. And while you're at it, make sure you grab the rest of them aswell - Larry, Space Quest and Police Quest. Sierra didn't overdo it and chose the easy way out by using a third party emulator. Despite this fact, everything works well, and that's what's important. This collection is worth its price for King's Quest V - VII alone. I never really liked the fourth game and first three had been re-made by fans and these versions not only look and sound so much better but use the point and click interface rather than text input, and that can only be viewed as something positive.


If you want to be able to play the remakes and still be okay by law, get this collection. If you want to experience the great King's Quest V and VI, get this collection. If you're a fan of point and click adventure games and you still haven't played King's Quest, get this collection. It even comes with a grainy video showing how King's Quest VI was made. Now that's what I call getting your moneys worth.


To wrap this nice blog entry up, I've decided to make a video comparing the original version of King's Quest III to its homebrew remake based on the AGS engine. As you can see, back in 1987 such exotic things as soundtrack, sound effects or a user friendly interface were unheard of. That's why I would choose the remake over the original any day, even though it's still amusing how limited the text input is in understanding what you, the player, are trying to do.






The banners above will take you to the re-made versions of the first three King's Quest games. King's Quest I and II+ were developed by AGDInteractive, while the third game was handled by Infamous Adventures. I highly recommend these versions, both for those who have played these games before and those who haven't had the chance. I know there are those who prefer "the real deal" but come on, at its core, it's the same game. Enjoy and support Sierra by buying their collections.

Raise your hand if you remember or have played Outlaws, the awsome and oh so wonderfully wild wild western game. If you have played it, you know that it's one of the best designed first person shooting games out there and it's by far the best wild west themed one [or maybe the very next best, right after the amazing Silverload].



Nowdays we don't expect much from LucasArts. They have their Star Wars and Indiana Jones Lego games. And let's not forget the Star Wars Lego to make the Lego experience complete. Lately LucasArts sacked hundreds of people just because the company can't be bothered to make decent games and to make crappy ones you need only so many employees.



Back to the point. In the good old days when adventure games still rocked the PC world side by side with first person shooters, someone at LucasArts [Daron Stinnett, along with Stephen R. Shaw and Adam Schnitzerhad to be exact] had the idea of creating a wild west themed game. Based on the Jedi engine, previously used in Star Wars: Dark Forces, Outlaws offered an impressive set of massive 3D levels to explore, complete with an amazing western soundtrack stored on CD as audio tracks.



Despite its greatness, perfect feel and spot on design, the game didn't achieve any higher status. The reviews were quite enthusiastic, as were the opinions of gamers, but the glory of Outlaws has since the day of its premiere faded, almost into nothingness.



The decreased popularity might be caused by some massive compatibility issues the game has suffered. Originally released for Windows 95, it had some compatibility issues already on Windows 98 and things didn't get any better when Windows XP finally came along. LucasArts did release some patches, but they were quite dodgy and the game still suffers from a few issues, mainly from animated textures ocasionally going white in hardware accelerated mode.



Outlaws also got a mission pack, which became a part of the main package in later editions. "Historical Missions" were a set of five quest levels giving the player some back story on the game's main protagonist and him achieving the rank of a U.S. Marshal. To complete the experience, Outlaws got equipped with a multiplayer mode which became quite popular thanks to, now mostly dead, Kali. Many clans formed and tons of multiplayer maps got created. These can still be found on the internet, even though it's hard to find someone to play the game with.



I recently got this 2007 edition of Outlaws, a part of LucasArts Classic collection, just because of it's alleged compatibility with Windows XP. My old '97 edition refused to load levels from the disc in between CDs. This basically means I couldn't load the first level off the second disc. That, plus the game being a crash waiting to happend, even after patching, made me buy this little package.



Nowdays we usually pick up another Half Life 2 episode, or one of the next gen smash hits like Gears of War or Bioshock. Ocasionally a game like Portal comes along to show us what "simple" fun is all about. Outlaws is fun for me. Maybe I'm a bit nostalgic or maybe the game is just so good, but there is something about LucasArts' design and the wild west feel. If you haven't played it, I'm not even sure if it's right for me to recommend it. Let me put it this way. If you still enjoy Doom while playing it, you should enjoy Outlaws. It's one of the first full 3D games with small surprises like the first ever scope rifle in an fpp. If you like the oldies, get it. If you played it and liked it but you don't own it, get it. Run it in the accelerated mode, turn off the smooth textures and enjoy the adventure in all of it's pixly glory. It will be worth it.


Lastly, I would like to direct some words to LucasArts: If you can't the upgrading of your own software, release the source code for Jedi engine and I'm sure that homebrew scene will take care of the problem for you. Unless you really did reverse engineer the Doom engine [which I highly doubt] and you don't want that to come out in the process.

Sadly, LucasArts is not planning on making a sequel to this great game. I guess we're all stuck with the half assed patches and the '98 build of the game. That's right. When you install the newest 2007 edition of Outlaws, the game is still the same build with some of the patches, the latest one dated to 2001. LucasArts didn't listen to thousands of people petitioning for a Sam & Max sequel, so I don't think they will listen to anyone who wants a fix or a sequel to Outlaws. They just don't give a shit.
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