It isn’t always the most involved and complex control schemes that draw us in—sometimes, it’s more about the story and the characters and finding that way to immerse the player in the experience. And that’s why point-and-click adventures are still so embraced. Even though the actual interaction’s minimal, the game still finds a way to entertain. So, we here at EGM take a nostalgic-filled look back at five of our favorite point-and-click adventures.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Released: Wii, PS2 – January 8, 2008
One of the most common themes in the point-and-click genre nowadays sees players taking on the roles of detectives of sorts. The CSI-inspired games are a prime example of that, but when Capcom had a chance to put out a Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law game, it was a simple matter of taking their Ace Attorney series and inserting the Birdman’s bizarre cast of characters. But what sold this game for me was that it was perfectly able to emulate both the humor and the animation style of the cartoon and had me rolling over with laughter with each new interaction I could find. The deepest or most original game? No. One of the more humorous and entertaining ones? Yes.
Released: Sega CD – December 15, 1994
This genre doesn’t get much love nowadays; Heavy Rain is the last game I can think of that could even tenuously be linked to the old days of point-and-click adventuring that’s worth a shoutout. Snatcher—a game that dates more than a couple decades ago to the Sega CD era—contains an absorbing purity and simplicity within its graphics-based interactive storytelling. If you go back to the game today, you might balk at the dated presentation, but there’s a terrific artistry and vibe to Snatcher that will always stand the test of time. Creator Hideo Kojima’s lively characters and keen eye for sci-fi detail take you on the kind of journey I’d love to see reimagined in modern skinning.
Leisure Suit Larry
Released: PC – July 5, 1987
In trying to think about what my favorite point-and-click game would be, one name instantly came to mind: Leisure Suit Larry. Not to say that it is or was my favorite point-and-click game, but I still have these crazy memories of playing it. I remember my brother bringing home a gigantic Windows PC that he’d gotten from who-knows-where, complete with copy of the legendary Al Lowe-crafted adventure. My younger self was ready to be transported to a world of amber-tinted monochrome debauchery, but instead I was tortured by puzzles that had no problem getting you permanently stuck and one lone sex scene that gave me no satisfaction due to an ominous floating censor bar.
-Eric L. Patterson
Released: NES – 1990
My father wasn’t the most prescient computer investor back in the ’80s. Instead of buying the family an Apple IIe or a Commodore 64—like some of my childhood buddies played on—he stuck us with the ADAM, Coleco’s ill-fated disaster of a PC. (Never trust the makers of Cabbage Patch Kids to create a computer.) As a result, I missed most of the classic point-and-click adventures, but every once in a while, I’d stumble upon one on the NES, like in the case of Déjà Vu. This hard-boiled noir mystery starring an amnesiac ex-boxer offered a measured, cerebral, and surprisingly mature approach missing from more popular games like Contra and Double Dragon.
Released: PS3 – February 23, 2010
So I almost feel a need to flog myself for not picking Grim Fandango or Day of the Tentacle, but all respect for Tim Schafer’s incredible adventures aside, David Cage’s gritty crime drama and its relentless pursuit of a manageable entry into mature gaming had me hooked about five minutes after the protagonist stopped senselessly repeating the name “JASON!” The decidedly adult themes, intriguing look into multiple characters, and eventually integration of respectable Move support all came together in an intriguing tale of deception and detective work that, at the very least, went a long way to show that we can explore more contemporary themes in game design and get away with it. Bravo, guys!