Discworld – Cheeky, charming, challenging,
Continuing my reminiscing of early PS1 longbox titles that I enjoyed during the console’s launch; Discworld brings forth some of the fondest (and most frustrating) memories.
At the ripe age of 10, much of Terry Pratchett’s legendary British humor was lost on me. Clever in its puns and tailored to a more…mature audience – the rich dialogue in this game was amongst the smartest and wittiest you could find for its time. And this was only enhanced by the incredible talents of Eric Idle, Tony Robinson, and Jon Pertwee
“Equal measures of charming and absurd”
But like I said; much of this wasn’t fully appreciated until years later. Instead, it was the world itself that hooked me. Equal measures of charming and absurd, Discworld took place in an imaginative fantasy setting taken from the lore of over 40 novels. A world, perched atop 4 giant elephants which in turn stood atop a giant turtle (sex unknown) which flew through the cosmos. And within that world, was the city of Ankh-Morpork; the medieval city in which most of the game took place. A city with beautifully painted backgrounds; from the alleyways to the rooftops. And to compliment these graphics; incredibly detailed sprites that truly have stood the test of time.
A brotherhood, cloaked in mystery, who summoned forth a Dragon from another dimension to wreak havoc on the city. A wizard, Rincewind of the Unseen University, summoned by the Arch-chancellor to rid the world of this vile creature. A cast of hundreds, all more bizarre than the last. It was a simple premise to an all-but-simple point-and-click adventure.
“It was a simple premise to an all-but-simple point-and-click adventure.”
Discworld offered the usual adventure-game tropes; allowing players navigate Rincewind around the stage, inspect areas, or pick up items. These items could be stored on Rincewind’s person, or in his sentient (and limitless) luggage…dog….thing. Similarly, players could choose to tell a joke or ask a question or make a comment with any NPC in the game. This made for thousands of lines of dialogue.
“Exploring the colorful world was a thrill that I fondly remember.”
At 10 years old, I was hardly able to navigate the city. My goals of trying to leave the City Gates thinking it was the end-game were far from true as I’d later find out. In fact, I can’t recall solving many puzzles at all. But exploring the colorful world, using my items as best I could, was a thrill that I fondly remember. My excitement of giving a Banana to the Orangutan Librarian, or figuring out I could throw a Tomato at the Tax Collector were enough to keep me going.
“…one of the most difficult games I had ever completed.”
Fast-forward to my mid-20’s. At this point, I will say that this was one of the most difficult games I had ever completed. At times, particularly towards the final act, you had upwards of 50 items in your inventory to figure out how to use. And ‘use’ was a very broad term in this game. Pouring a bowl of custard in an outhouse toilet, then placing an octopus in the toilet, then replacing some caviar with prunes to make a fisherman go to the bathroom and then be tickled by the octopus so his belt slipped off and you could grab the gold buckle… This sums up what the puzzles were like in this game. And to add to the complexity, time paradoxes courtesy of LSPace (read: Library Space) were thrown in. As if keeping track of your progress in one timeline wasn’t enough. Brutally hard, but addictingly fun.
While it’s in desperate need of a remake, if you’re a fan of punishing (and rewarding) point-and-click adventures of the mid-90’s, then definitely add this one to your list of must-plays. And hey – if you have one of those PS1 Mouse peripherals lying around – this is one of the few games it’ll work on!
Be sure to swing by the Cartridge Club forums to share your thoughts!