Just Point And Click

Mrs Peacock may have been a man, but Miss Scarlet certainly isn't, as Mr "Reverend" Green will attest!

Being a long-time PC gamer, I’ve played my share of PC games in the past, and then some.  By far the biggest collection of PC games I own are “point and clicks”, which to the uninitiated involve walking around, picking stuff up, solving puzzles, MacGyvering stuff together, and chatting people up (Well, interrogating them really).  So I’m here to share my love of this overlooked little genre.

“The Secret Of Monkey Island” was my first, followed by “Simon the Sorcerer”, but the one that really cemented my enduring love of this particular game type was “Cluedo Fatal Illusion”.  The graphics were state-of-the-art at the time (1999 – god I was 17!) and I’d never experienced anything like it before; not just the graphics but the immersive first person perspective that made you feel like you were really there.  The whole murder mystery, whodunnit thing had me head-over heels.  I’ve always been a sucker for the old ‘group of people stranded in a mansion and being picked off one by one’ scenario, so this was gaming heaven for me. (Sexy Miss Scarlett being a bonus!)

Something wooden... something devoid of life... night vision camera... all that's missing is dodgy mascara and a gobby northern lass!

Fast-forward to today and you’ve got outstanding titles like “The Lost Crown” and “Return To Mysterious Island” among many others ranging from the easy “Nancy Drew” series to the near ‘impossible to do without a walkthrough’ ones like the “Myst” games.

So, first person or third? Personally I don’t really have a preference. For me things like the story and gameplay take precedence over whether it’s first or third person, so this doesn’t factor into whether I buy a game or not.  It’s nice to be immersed in the game first person style, interacting with characters, feeling the atmosphere, and having the shit scared out of you on occasion.  However, it’s also nice to see just whose life you are meddling with and get a little more attached to them and the story, not to mention sending them places and getting them to do things that you would avoid in real life, because you watch movies and you know the ‘rules’. But hey, it’s not you right?

Then there’s the inventory. Aaaaaah, the inventory. If it’s not nailed down then it’s destined for your Tardis-like pockets.  Anything from bread to ladders, it’s coming with you whether it belongs to someone else or not.  I get a weird sense of satisfaction every time I pick up a new item, thinking “Yeah, inventory!” Or muttering under my breath “InvenToryyyyyyyy.”, with a smug little smile on my face. And it feels even better when you finally figure out where to use that bloody rubber chicken or knock together a battery out of some coins, cloth, bamboo, and a lemon (Seriously). Still, you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for your character hauling around a sack of cement or walking around with a giant banana picker stuffed down their trousers, I mean, that’s gotta chafe, right?  But like it or not, they’ll do as they’re damn well told, because you WILL need that chocolate fountain at some point, implausible as it might seem.

Before Harry there was Simon... and he didn't need two "hangers on" and an owl to make things happen! Just a mouse.

I do have a few gripes with these games though, one being that they are just not long enough (with the possible exception of “The Lost Crown”). Another is when a game won’t allow you to add stuff to your inventory until you’ve seen where you can use it. (Yes “Rhiannon” I’m talking about you.) I mean how annoying is it to pick up something like a torch that you just KNOW you will need, but not be able to take it with you until you’ve clicked on the dark stairs? Answer: VERY! Having to traipse around every bloody area in the game trying to find that poxy oak branch you saw earlier but don’t remember where, can be extremely frustrating! As to graphics, some of them are quite dark, which makes for a great atmosphere, but when it’s SO dark you can’t even find the bloody door handle, it kinda irritates!

Despite their various flaws, some anti-climactic endings, and a format that some might call repetitive, you can’t help but keep going back. Adventure, horror, mystery, puzzles, and murder, this genre has it all. And you’ll see it all too: ghosts, vampires, druids, pirates, books that transport you to another world, machines from the future that consume people, giant moving stones that turn you into a pile of ash, and monkeys called Jep.  Oh, and normal people too. Wonderful escapism that will consume hours of your day and night, but in a good way.

So say goodbye to sleep and hello to the multitude of lives out there just waiting for you to take over and see through to their end again and again. And so, “point ‘n’ clicks”, in the bellowing voice of Whitney Houston: “I will always love youuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

Games featured in this article
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Last five articles by Tania



  1. Ben Ben says:

    I remember one of the first PC games someone bought me was none other than Broken Sword, I was probably around 13years old and boy did it confuse the living daylights out of me, don’t think I’d ever make it past the first 45minutes without just giving up in an almighty strop.

    Point and click for me tends to only lead in one direction, point and click RPG’s such as Diablo, Titan Quest and quite recently the most excellent Torchlight. There is just something about a point and click RPG that has a certain sense of charm about it, one that even the most graphically stunning fully blown AAA title cannot seem to replicate.

  2. Lorna Lorna says:

    Great first piece :) I used to adore point ‘n’ clicks, but like everything else, I slowly drifted away from them, mainly due to gravitating slowly away fromthe PC, I suppose. That and the fact that they dropped out of sight to become more of a niche market. That said though, the revamped Secret of Monkey Island was a huge success on the Xbox…so much so that an announcement is expected at this GDC for the sequel!

    I never did get to play Simon the Sorcerer…I should drag out my budget discs and see what i can do with them. Bizarre inventory items seem to be a genre staple, but I think that Monkey Island took it to surreal heights with their ‘Rubber Chicken With A Pulley In The Middle’ :) Having to wait to pick somethingup until you have seen where you can use it though is disgraceful…these games have enough backtracking as it is…that is a nasty trick.

    Oh, and that pic of the the Cluedo gang, Rev Green is blatantly checking out Miss Scarlet’s boobs!

  3. Tania Tania says:

    Standing there who WOULDN’T be checking out Miss Scarlett’s boobs?! :D

  4. Samuel The Preacher says:

    I used to love the old Lucasarts point and clicks; Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max, Fate of Atlantis, and especially Grim Fandango, which remains my personal favourite. Simon the Sorcerer was a great classic point and click too, as were Broken Sword and Beneath a Steel Sky.

    I spent a few years away from the genre, around the same time it was in decline, but recently I’ve really been getting back into it, with the resurrection of Monkey Island and Sam & Max. Another great little point and click I stumbled across a few months ago is Machinarium, though I expect you’ve already heard about it as a fan of the genre. Wonderful style and charming feel to it, very nostalgic almost, even though it’s a new title.

    Great first article, I hope you’ll be writing more.

  5. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Hook. That, to my knowledge, is the only point and click game I ever played. There was another one that I bought in Makro one day when I was determined to walk out with at least one game, but I can’t remember what it was called. It involved solving a murder, was on the Amiga, and had a fingerprint on the cover. It was buggy as hell though, and so it didn’t last any longer than it took to say “well THIS is shit” three times. Hook wasn’t all that great either, but I’m blaming that on the fact it was a movie tie-in.

    From what you’ve said above though, it would appear that point and clicks are really just text adventures with visual aids? Not a graphic adventure, because they would just create a representation of the scene whereas the point and click looks like it contains everything that would normally be listed whenever you’d type “look” into the command box of a text adventure. I may, of course, be wrong! If it IS the case though, I’m sure I’d enjoy the point and clicks as I still miss those days of the text adventure.

    Makes a change from everything being 3D rendered though, that’s for sure!! Welcome to GL – definitely a great start :)

  6. Tania Tania says:

    Hmmmm, I guess I never thought about them that way before. I suppose they ARE an evolution of text adventures, which I also always loved!

  7. Rook says:

    Load Website.
    Read Article.
    Post Comment.

    Aaaah point and click adventures, how many times have I used that two word command structure to explore a world. I’ve played point and clicks and always enjoyed them. My first one was probably Leisure Suit Larry which I played while on work placement. I’ve prorbably played more text adventures thou than point and clicks, abd enjoyed both thoroughly. It has been a while since I spend a great deal of time with either type.

    Getting all nostalgic now. Nice article Tania.

  8. Adam says:

    Welcome (Belated) to Gaming Lives Tania :D

    I love the Point and Click and wish that it could find a home in the main stream again. That Lucasarts are continuing to reproduce the Monkey Island series is a wonderful gesture and that TellTale are continuing the franchise but games like Simon that was sadly shipped off to some nasty german budget studio to rot and die really deserve the Lucasarts treatment.

    Perhaps we should form a secret convent to pass it on to future generations? :o

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