Kurt Kalata is an ardent video gamer from New Jersey. He has founded websites such as The Castlevania Dungeon, which focuses on Konami's long running, vampire slaying series, and Hardcore Gaming 101, which gives comprehensive reviews focusing on the history of gaming. In addition to his own sites and books, his writings have appeared at 1up, Siliconera, Gamasutra, and The Armchair Empire.

The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures by Kurt Kalata

In 1984, Roberta Williams of Sierra On-Line designed King's Quest, the world's first graphic adventure. A huge step beyond the text-oriented games that preceded it, the genre took the world by storm, and proved immensely popular with computers over the next decade. A combination of storytelling and puzzle solving, they provided the ability to explore a world and experience a narrative without the need for twitchy reflexes demanded of arcade games. The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures includes reviews for over 250 games from the golden age of the graphic adventure genre, running from 1984 to roughly 2000, focusing on promiminent publishers such as:

  • LucasArts (Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Grim Fandango)
  • Sierra On-Line (King's Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight) -Legend (Spellcasting, Eric the Unready, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon)
  • And several other popular and not-so-popular series and games (Zork, Myst, Broken Sword, The Longest Journey, Simon the Sorcerer, The Last Express, and dozens of others)
  • Also includes interviews with several adventure game developers, including Al Lowe (creator of Leisure Suit Larry), Corey Cole (creator of Quest for Glory), Bob Bates (founder of Legend Entertainment) and Josh Mandel (writer and designer for Sierra).


Over 750 pages of reviews, interviews and analysis from the golden age of the graphic adventure genre, spanning 250 games from the LucasArts, Sierra, and dozens of other companies.



  • "I can easily recommend The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures, as there are many enjoyable details to discover and the historical value of the book is undisputable. As a nostalgic resource, this is an impressively comprehensive guide to the games that made our genre's heyday so great, and a welcome reminder of obscure titles that flew under the radar but are still worthy of attention. If you are an experienced adventurer, you can use this book to discover some gems you didn't know about before, but if you missed out on the golden age originally, this book is simply indispensable, telling you (almost) everything you need to know about the glory years and giving you plenty of options to start your own quest."

    –Andrea Morstabilini, Adventure Gamers
  • "Hardcore Gaming 101's The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is the closest of a Holy Bible for fans of the genre one can get. It's excellently written almost without superfluous nostalgic superlatives and gives newcomers to and oldschool fans of the genre an amazing value for the money."

  • "There's just so much stuff here, it's insane. Games I've never even heard of are detailed in this wonderful book..."




So when did the adventure game genre collapse? The genre started with the mainframe text game Adventure, which was expanded into Colossal Cave. This begat Zork and founded Infocom, while a little company called On-Line Systems (later known as Sierra On-Line) began putting graphics in these games and ended up with Mystery House and King's Quest. They exploded in popularity around the introduction of the CD-ROM, where the expanded storage space allowed for fancy multimedia productions. But all bubbles burst, and the cause was any number of issues. Part of the blame lays on outside factors, like the burgeoning popularity of first person shooters and real time strategy games. An equal part of the blame can be placed on the games themselves, which either diluted the experience in favor of serving a broader market, or failed to evolve and stuck with the same archaic puzzle solving mechanics they'd been maintaining for years. The European market continued to be sustainable, but in America, the adventure game had all but perished.

The genre has seen a resurgence lately, thanks to the rejuvenating efforts by Telltale Games, as well as an influx of Japanese games on Nintendo DS and a number of high quality independent games. It's still not as prominent as it was in its glory days, however, and older gamers will remember a time when LucasArts and Sierra reigned ? the golden age of adventure gaming. While fans are mostly familiar with the likes of King's Quest and Monkey Island, there are hundreds of adventure games produced the world over, and this book aims to catalog them.