Graphic adventure

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A graphic adventure is an adventure video game sub-genre where the game is primarily displayed with graphics and the adventure is shown more than described. The adjective "graphic" is used to separate the sub-genre from earlier text adventures. Traditionally, graphic adventures were very entrenched with puzzles like their text adventure counterparts, but, there now exist plenty of graphic adventures that focus more on exploration or story development than puzzles.


The genre began when developers started adding graphical art to existing text adventures. Probably the first game which is unambiguously a graphic adventure is Mystery House (On-Line Systems, 1980), but other companies were using text to make "graphical" adventures at the same time, for example, The House of Usher (Crystalware, 1980). The genre proved quite popular, and, by 1985, over a dozen companies were making graphic adventures and had released scores of titles.

In the early-to-mid-1980s, most graphic adventures were developed for the Apple II, the dominate home computer of the time. However, as MS-DOS began to dominate the market in the late 1980s, and developers switched platforms. During this time, graphic adventures were primarily designed for personal computers and not for video game consoles which had much tighter memory constraints. With higher demands for unique graphics and lots of dialogue, it was difficult to fit graphic adventures into smaller video game console ROMs, and those that were ported were severely limited. By the early 1990s, the genre had become extremely popular, and games like Myst were smashing sales records for home computers.

As MS-DOS gave way to Windows in the late 1990s, developers naturally migrated along with it. By this time, video game consoles were starting to incorporate CD-ROM drives which could accommodate graphic adventures, and some of the more popular graphic adventures were ported over. However, no doubt because consoles were incapable of playing quality graphic adventures for so long, there still weren't that many graphic adventures being released on consoles.

In the late 1990s, even as the genre began to see some of it's highest acclaimed titles, like Grim Fandango, it began to die down. Graphic adventures were still being made through the 2000s, but they weren't showing up on the best-seller lists anymore. The genre continues to see new titles to this day, and companies like Telltale have made some amazing titles, but it is far from being the dominate home computer genre it once was.


I got into graphic adventure in the mid-1980s. My uncle had a TRS-80 Color Computer and had hand-typed in the game Lurkley Manor from a magazine. I remember playing it only briefly, but being captivated by it. In the late 1980s, my uncle bought a Tandy 1000 along with several Sierra On-Line games including Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, Police Quest II: The Vengeance, and Manhunter: New York. This really fueled my love of the genre. And I tried to play as many as I could when my family got a computer in 1991. In the mid-1990s, a friend of mine in middle school showed me his collection of Lucasfilm Games including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, Loom, Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. In high school, I bought myself copies of Shadowgate, Uninvited, and Déjà Vu: A Nightmare Comes True!! for the NES and found the, by then obsolete, Hugo series. I played several other graphic adventures here and there, but got bored with the genre in the mid-1990s. In the late-2010s, I discovered that, although the genre had decreased in popularity, some companies were still making them. I now will occasionally go back and play some of the more highly-acclaimed titles when the mood strikes me.


This is a list of graphic adventures that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the graphic adventure category.

Title Released Developer
Anika's Odyssey 2007-??-?? Tricky Sheep
Gone Home 2013-08-15 The Fullbright Company
Hugo's House of Horrors 1990-01-01 David Gray
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella 1988-09-?? Sierra Online
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! 1990-11-09 Sierra Online
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow 1992-10-13 Sierra Online
The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One 1992-08-?? Westwood Studios
Loom 1990-01-?? Lucasfilm Games
Lurkley Manor 1985-??-?? Richard Ramella
Police Quest II: The Vengeance 1988-11-?? Sierra Online
Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be A Hero 1992-07-?? Sierra Online
Quest for Glory III: Wages of War 1992-08-?? Sierra Online
The Secret of Monkey Island 1990-10-?? Lucasfilm Games
Shadowgate 1987-07-30 ICOM Simulations
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter 1986-10-?? Sierra Online
Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge 1987-11-14 Sierra Online
Uninvited 1986-??-?? ICOM Simulations


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