Point-and-click games were a staple of the 1990s and last year I started wondering what it must be like to play them as an adult (must’ve been all that time stuck at home!) – would they stand the test of time?
An added complication is that I didn’t want to spend more time in front of a keyboard, mouse & computer screen after a day’s work, but what were my options? A few have been beautifully remastered – e.g. the LucasArts classics Monkey Island 1 & 2, Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle – and are available to play on consoles, but this still leaves some of the decade’s best games: the Indiana Jones games, Sam & Max Hit The Road and The Dig only playable on PC.
But you can solve anything with tech! So I got hold of:
- An inexpensive Lenovo USFF (ultra-small-form-factor) PC which fit easily under the TV, connected via the HDMI port
- A similarly inexpensive Logitech 2-in-1 wireless keyboard and trackpad
- A DualShock (PS4) controller
Compatibility problems – but there’s an easy solution
Most of the games are available at low prices on the Steam store or GOG, but don’t run them straight from there! These are mostly DOS games and although they’ve been updated to play on Windows, there can be problems, e.g. there are both audio and picture scaling issues with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Instead, once you’ve bought the game, get hold of ScummVM and then load the game files into that. It’s a much smoother experience and there’s quite a few scaling options that make pixel art look nice even on a 4K display.
Playing with a controller, thanks to Steam
The wireless keyboard is kind of unnecessary given these are point-and-click games and it’s bit clunky on your lap. So I paired the DualShock controller to the PC (running Windows 10) and then configured it in Steam, mapping the sticks to mouse movement, and buttons to left- and right-click as well as some of the common keyboard shortcuts. Then, once you launch ScummVM from within Steam (you add it to your game library), all you need is your controller.
Voice-acted 90s games to check out
Quite a few games of that era have voice acting and it makes a big difference – adding a level of immersion which the pixel art doesn’t quite achieve on its own 😉
Even better, some of the best titles of the 90s are now freeware – not the LucasArts ones though!
- Freeware titles
- Beneath a Steel Sky
- Broken Sword 2.5
- Flight of the Amazon Queen
- Inexpensive titles on Steam or GOG
- Blade Runner
- The Curse of Monkey Island (for the first two titles, go for the remaster instead as they include the original)
- Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
- Sam & Max Hit The Road
- The Dig
- Abandonware I haven’t forgotten about!
Have I missed any good games? Let me know!