51 Shades of Geek

Doctor Who: The First Adventure

Doctor Who: The First AdventureThe Game: You guide the Doctor, that wayward Time Lord, on a quest to retrieve the three segments of the Key to Time, recover See the videoyour companion from an alien prison, and escape aliens who are on your trail. The game appropriately takes place in four “episodes” (stages). Failing to complete a task will cost you time and a precious regeneration; running out of either one ends the game.

Memories: The first officially approved Doctor Who video game, The First Adventure isn’t a trendsetter or a great innovation in and of itself; in fact, I think it’s safe to say that this game for the BBC Micro would’ve been entirely un-noteworthy if not for the Doctor Who connection. Continue reading

Doctor Who and the Warlord

Doctor Who and the WarlordThe Game: You are the Doctor’s companion, separated from the Time Lord during an attempt to save the Doctor’s old friend, King Varangar. When you come to, the Doctor is nowhere around, you’re unarmed, and you’re surrounded by deadly swamps, war zones, and hostile alien soldiers. Your life expectancy away from the TARDIS isn’t looking terribly good – and even if you can reunite with the Doctor, escaping from planet Quantain won’t be easy. (BBC Software, 1985)

Memories: The second official Doctor Who computer game, released during the show’s mid-1980s merchandising heyday, Doctor Who And The Warlord is a decisive step away from the somewhat derivative arcade-inspired game play of Doctor Who: The First Adventure… and a step toward another well-worn style of game: the text adventure. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Dalek Attack

Doctor Who: Dalek AttackThe Game: As one of three incarnations of the Doctor (only Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy are offered), and with the option of a second playing assuming the role of either Ace or an unnamed (and yet somehow Watch a video of this gamefamiliarly mustachioed) UNIT soldier, you must navigate various environments from the sewers and streets of London to the Dalek-conquered ruins of once-proud cities like Tokyo and New York, defeating the Daleks and their allies to remove the evil scourge from Earth. Ogrons, hideous monsters, Dalek-possessed Robomen and ninjas, and – perhaps most terrifying of all – robo-sumo wrestlers will try to prevent you from completing your mission. (Alternative Software, 1992)

Memories: The first Doctor Who video game marketed for anything even vaguely resembling a modern PC (though other versions were available for such then-still-common platforms as the Amiga, the Spectrum Holobyte and even the Commodore 64), this straight-shooting scrolling quest game unashamedly goes straight for the classic arcade jugular, with game play and eye candy worthy of such all-time classics as Super Mario Brothers. It also displays a loving reverence for Doctor Who old and new, which is enough to tug at the heartstrings of the most cynical fans. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors

Doctor Who: Destiny of the DoctorsOrder this gameThe Game: The Master strikes again! The evil Time Lord has trapped the Doctor’s first seven incarnations. You assume the role of the Graak, a telepathic entity created by the Doctor in the event of just such an emergency. You must travel to different time zones to rescue the Doctor’s various incarnations, battling Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians, Sontarans, Yeti, Ice Warriors, Autons, Zygons and more along the way. You may be able to make telepathic contact with the Doctor periodically, or use the time-space telegraph to consult with the Brigadier. In the meantime, the Master challenges you to accomplish various hazardous tasks… (BBC Multimedia, 1997)

Watch a video of this gameMemories: Despite the fact that Destiny of the Doctors is essentially a Doom/Duke Nukem engine with Doctor Who settings, villains and soundbytes, I find this game strangely addictive. Even more than Star Trek, Doctor Who has been a part of my pop culture/sci-fi consciousness since childhood, and there’s something appealing about finally getting to plaster some Daleks for myself rather than watching someone else do it on TV. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Attack Of The Graske

Doctor Who: Attack Of The GraskeThe Game: Somewhere in London, an alien menace is in the early stages of hatching a plan for world domination, and since he’s dropped Rose off to take part in an important historical event (namely, the 1979 Abba concert at Wembley Stadium), the Doctor asks you to help him find it. After the Doctor ties into your remote control with his sonic screwdriver, your first task is to monitor a seemingly normal family at Christmastime for any hints of alien incursion. The Doctor suspects the alien is a Graske, who invades worlds by replacing people, one at a time, with duplicates that he controls. Once spotted, the Graske leads the TARDIS on a wild goose chase through the time vortex, and the Doctor relies on you to help him operate his timeship’s controls in rapid succession. The chase leads back to Earth, but in an earlier era, where the Graske decides to try launching his invasion at a more vulnerable point in Earth’s history. It’s up to you to spot the Graske and then to accompany the Doctor to the Graske’s home planet, where you have to crack the codes to break into the creature’s inner sanctum and then put an end to his invasion plans. (BBC Interactive, 2005)

Memories: Available to viewers of the BBC’s Freeview and digital satellite services, Attack Of The Graske admittedly doesn’t have tremendous replay value. It’s the TV equivalent of a choose-your-own-adventure book, with only one right answer for each multiple-choice decision point. (I suppose that also makes it a latter-day descendant of Dragon’s Lair.) Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, Episode 1 – City Of The Daleks

The Game: Promising to take his time-traveling sidekick Amy Pond to London in 1963, the Doctor is shocked when the TARDIS actually gets there – and London, and the rest of Earth, is in ruins. The human race is extinct and the Daleks have taken over. Completely unarmed (except for the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver), the Doctor and Amy have to avoid the unstoppable Dalek patrols, make their way back to the TARDIS, and do whatever it takes – no matter the risk – to defeat the Daleks and set history back on its proper course. This means setting the TARDIS on a course for the heart of Dalek power: Kaalann, the capitol city of the Dalek planet Skaro. (BBC, 2010)

Buy this gameMemories: Offered for free in the UK and Wales (and for a fee everywhere else), Doctor Who: The Adventure Games not only sets out to bring an interactive component to the spectacularly revived long-running British science fiction series, but it also aims to make the games an official part of the show’s ongoing story, and tries to stick to the underlying premise of the series – namely, that the Doctor employs wits and words in lieu of weapons. And for the first time in the history of the franchise, we have, in City Of The Daleks, a game that succeeds spectacularly on all of these fronts. Continue reading

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