The Tales of Bingwood:
To Save a Princess
So apparently '80s fashion is back in style, which, frankly, is a bit terrifying, especially for those of us who were permanently scarred by it the first time around. However, should you happen to like neon colors, giant bangs, and wearing turtlenecks under a t-shirt, you might want to put on some Adam Ant and take a look at The Tales of Bingwood Chapter 1: To Save a Princess.
This 2D point-and-click adventure from BugFactory is a throwback to every Sierra and LucasArts game ever made. Maybe not every single one, but most of them. The ones that were made in the '80s, at least. OK, the ones that were made in the '80s in which the main character went on some sort of quest and had to click on everything and try to combine all the items in the inventory with all of the other items and where do they even get pants with pockets that big?
Ahem. This game is like those games. The word used here is "retro." At least that's what the kids say now, right? Moving on.
The village of Bingwood is in chaos! Princess Liliana has been kidnapped, as princesses often are, and her parents have turned to the townsfolk to save her. Our young hero, Tombrandt Driftwood, who bears no resemblance in any way to a certain Guybrush Threepwood, is "volunteered" for the task by his neighbors, even though he is naught but a lowly fisherman's son who is allergic to fish.
Like most medieval villages, Bingwood is filled with quirky characters to talk to, strange objects to pick up, and a variety of puzzles to solve, all of which may be useful in finding a missing princess. Use the mouse to help Tom explore every inch of the town and the surrounding countryside. There are four different options for interacting with the surroundings: look, use, speak and travel. The gameplay mechanics are simple: [right-click] cycles through the choices and [left-click] is the action button.
Analysis: It is entirely possible that this game was actually created in 1984 and only appears on the Internet through some sort of violation of the space-time continuum. That's probably not true, but, much like The Chzo Mythos, The Tales of Bingwood is a retro delight, from the 2D pixelated graphics to the liberal use of witty dialogue with a smack of potty humor.
It also improves on some rough patches that were detrimental to its predecessors. For example, you can navigate the world using a map, skip cut scenes and dialogue, and generally rejoice in all the good stuff that adventure fans enjoy. The plot may be basic, but the puzzles are not, and there's an excellent sense of exploration running through your journey. Happily, there is no way to die or be forced to restart the game because you missed an item and can't go back to pick it up. Instead of high-pitched beeping, there's actually a decent soundtrack and surprisingly good voiceover acting.
There are just a few minor flaws here. It's easy to forget exactly which character needed a certain favor or item, so some sort of to-do list would be welcome. Scrolling through rows and rows of inventory items to find the object you need becomes tedious, and there's no hint button to click when you're stuck. Since the gameplay is so open-ended, though, you can simply move on to another task without the risk of exploding in frustration.
The Tales of Bingwood will eventually be a trilogy, so this is just the first third of Tombrandt's quest. This actually isn't really an issue in terms of playability, but if you like your plot tied up with a neat little bow, you aren't going to get it here. What you will get is a well-crafted homage to adventure games of yore.