June 4, 2021 at 12:01 am #40700VictarParticipant
In 1991, after porting of Shadowgate and Deja Vu, Kemco ported the point-and-click adventure game Uninvited (also developed by ICOM Simulations) to the Nintendo Entertainment System. (The Japanese name for the port translated to “The Devil’s Invitation”). Today, Shadowgate, Deja Vu, and Uninvited are most easily and inexpensively obtained as the MacVenture trilogy on Steam, or the “8-bit Adventure Anthology, Volume 1” on PS4 and other platforms.
All three ports were changed to the point where they could reasonably qualify as remakes. Kemco added original music, and color to the graphics. Since Uninvited is a horror game (while Shadowgate was a heroic fantasy, and Deja Vu was a noir mystery), its port may have received the heaviest brunt of stylistic changes, including outright censorship.
Examples of censorship include having a crucifix changed to a goblet of holy water, and having “pentagrams” changed to “stars”. An undead prisoner who held his own decapitated head in one hand was redrawn to have his head on his shoulders. Certain very graphic descriptions of death were rewritten, and toned down a little.
Despite these alterations, Uninvited was a chilling game for its time, and retains a palpable sense of psychological horror today. The enhanced graphics and eerie music contribute to the feeling of dread, especially for first-time players. It’s a good game replay on Halloween.
The point-and-click adventure gameplay of Uninvited is essentially the same as Shadowgate and Deja Vu. The unnamed player is trapped in a haunted mansion, seeking to rescue their older sister (their younger brother in the original version; this is one more detail that Kemco changed in its port). The player has a list of commands they can use to examine their surroundings, collect items, use items, speak magical invocations and more. Some of the puzzles to be solved are logical; some are irritatingly obtuse.
The single biggest gameplay change to Kemco’s port is that an in-game turn limit was removed. In the original, the player had a limited number of actions they could perform until the evil forces within the house possessed them for a terrifying game over. This limitation was removed from the NES port… mostly. Kemco did add a cursed item; choosing to take and carry this item reinstates the turn limit, although abandoning the item (which can only be done in specific locations that expressly say “You can discard anything you don’t need here”) frees the player from the curse of strictly limited turns.
Uninvited does not directly warn the player that claiming the wrong item has dire consequences, and I personally experienced several horrible game overs until a kind (if somewhat snarky) individual on message boards posted “Ding! Ding! Someone has a cursed item in their possession!” in response to my complaint. The entire situation was so frustrating that I sold my NES cart of Uninvited. I never finished Uninvited until I acquired the 8-bit Adventure Anthology, Volume 1 for the PS4.
8-bit Adventure Anthology, Volume 1 has no frills whatsoever, but it’s a very solid rendition of the three classic NES games. It’s published by someone other than Kemco (“Abstraction Games”, according to GameFAQs); although Kemco is listed in the game’s credits.
Here’s hoping that one day there’s a Volume 2 of classic adventure titles! But… as of this writing, it has been roughly four years since 8-bit Adventure Anthology’s 2017 release. Too much anticipation might not be wise.
Favorite RPG of all time: Journey to Kreisia (by Exe-Create)
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