Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

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Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby 0kool » 2018-6-10 @ 09:56

I was never much good with adventure games, but it's one of my favorite genres nevertheless. Back in the days I mostly used walkthroughs or consulted our class clown. Somehow he always knew the answer (magic? :exclamation:).

Recently I finished Monkey Island with 0 hints until the damn navigator's head - quite an achievement for me.

So I was full of optimism finally starting with Gabriel Knight and while I'm enjoying the game a lot, it feels like a whole new level of frustration.
I'm picking up most of the items alright, chatting my way through all the dialog trees and trying the usual mix and match with people/inventory. But for the most part it just doesn't feel like my deeds advance the game in any substantial way. So I checked with the hintbook and would certainly never had guessed what was the right course of action without it.

Feel quite cheap now. And still stuck. Could be the time to get dirty again :angry:. Logic puzzles are not my favorite thing, but a good story is. Or might be that it's just not that logical sometimes..
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby clueless1 » 2018-6-10 @ 10:18

I bought hint books and strategy guides back in the day. There was often useful backstory information or stuff on the development team, etc, so they were interesting to have even if you didn't need them to beat the game.

BTW, the first hint books I remember buying when I was in 7th grade were for Infocom games. They were called InvisiClues and were printed in invisible ink. Came with a marker that revealed progressively more detailed clues depending on how much help you needed. Brilliant idea that as far as I know was never copied by anyone else.

And today, as an almost 50 year old retrogamer, I use hints and walkthroughs ALL THE TIME. No shame. :) I just want to enjoy my childhood and early adult games without pulling what little hair I have left out.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Errius » 2018-6-10 @ 13:29

Computer magazines would usually come with tips sections for games.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby DracoNihil » 2018-6-10 @ 16:56

I don't know if this counts, but I used to have this huge database of ANSI text detailing whatever XYZ game at the time, from cheats to positions of and descriptions of secret areas, etc.

I don't remember what said database was named though...
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Shponglefan » 2018-6-10 @ 20:35

clueless1 wrote:BTW, the first hint books I remember buying when I was in 7th grade were for Infocom games. They were called InvisiClues and were printed in invisible ink. Came with a marker that revealed progressively more detailed clues depending on how much help you needed. Brilliant idea that as far as I know was never copied by anyone else.


Early Sierra game hintbooks had the same invisible ink / hilighter system. Then they switched to red cellophane you had to use to read the hints.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-6-10 @ 20:38

In the early 90s mostly all video games (even console adventures) came with a hint line you could call and a human would tell you how to get past where you were stuck for an exorbitant fee. I knew people who would call these lines.

I used to enjoy getting strategy guides and still have a half decent collection of those Prima guides for later 90s games. They are fun to read on the john :cool:
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Shponglefan » 2018-6-10 @ 20:44

0kool wrote:I'm picking up most of the items alright, chatting my way through all the dialog trees and trying the usual mix and match with people/inventory. But for the most part it just doesn't feel like my deeds advance the game in any substantial way. So I checked with the hintbook and would certainly never had guessed what was the right course of action without it.


This was a common issue with Sierra adventure games. Puzzles weren't always logical and there was a lot of trial-and-error involved. You could even wind up in unwinnable situations if you didn't perform the right action at the right moment in those games.

As much as I enjoyed Sierra games, the puzzle design left a lot to be desired.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby clueless1 » 2018-6-10 @ 21:47

Shponglefan wrote:
0kool wrote:I'm picking up most of the items alright, chatting my way through all the dialog trees and trying the usual mix and match with people/inventory. But for the most part it just doesn't feel like my deeds advance the game in any substantial way. So I checked with the hintbook and would certainly never had guessed what was the right course of action without it.


This was a common issue with Sierra adventure games. Puzzles weren't always logical and there was a lot of trial-and-error involved. You could even wind up in unwinnable situations if you didn't perform the right action at the right moment in those games.

As much as I enjoyed Sierra games, the puzzle design left a lot to be desired.

One of the reasons I could never get fully into Adventure games. Sometimes the solution to get past a section did not make any sense to me and was a bunch of random trial and error. I think the only adventure games I really enjoyed and played to completion were the first two Gabriel Knights (GK2 was better). Even the best Lucas Arts games were frustrating guessing games to me. I'm an RPG guy, btw. ;)
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-6-10 @ 22:13

BeginnerGuy wrote:In the early 90s mostly all video games (even console adventures) came with a hint line you could call and a
human would tell you how to get past where you were stuck for an exorbitant fee. I knew people who would call these lines.

I had a few. I also did read those help file/hintbook files found on shareware CD-ROMs of the time.
For a few games, namely ST:TNG-DS9 Crossroads of time on SNES, I also called the support hotline of Club Nintendo even.
(I remember I had a membership card at that time, so I guess it made sense to use that service. Not much later, the club closed, I heard. :( )
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2018-6-10 @ 22:16

Sierra was pretty bad about making certain parts of their games either too difficult or non-sensical. In some instances, they were just buggy or downright broken. I can't recall how many times I had to start a game over because I was stuck.
In Kin'g's Quest V, for example, there is a scene where you are supposed to throw a boot or a stick at a cat to save a rat. The event only happens exactly once, so if you miss it it's impossible to beat the game. Unless you had a hint book, there's no way most people could figure that out.
I was never able to beat Code Name Iceman. To this day I am unable to get past the submarine battle, even with the hintbook.
I also remember Sierra did a lot of dickish things related to the system timer.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2018-6-11 @ 06:19

Anyone remember Quest for Clue? I used that when I was stumped in Hero's Quest.

(Yes, Quest for Glory was named Hero's Quest back then.)
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby JidaiGeki » 2018-6-11 @ 07:31

Was Quest for Clues the book of assorted game clues? If it was, I think I had the Book of Orbs (probably can check online). Anyway I remember it being frustrating because it wasn't a complete clue book and I was stuck on something in a game it didn't cover! Before the internet this was limiting.

I had a few clue books for different SSI games, but largely they were for the maps. Most tips I got from friends or computer magazines, hint books weren't that cheap. Sierra games were OK once you got used to the parser, didn't need them for Larry or Police Quest. Am planning a Kings Quest run through in the near future, hopefully it's not too obscure!
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby appiah4 » 2018-6-11 @ 07:41

Hint books were never common where I lived, however 'game reviews' in local magazines for things like Adventure games basically comprised of walkthroughs anyway. As these magazines were mostly aimed mostly at pirate copy users the reviews pretty much summarized the manual, key bindings and gameplay tips. At the end of the day, buying computer magazines was mostly enough for me.

That said, I did beat Eye of the Beholder 2 with a hint book photocopy the first time around. I used that same photocopy for the second, third, fourth - which was four three ago - playthroughs as well.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2018-6-11 @ 08:10

JidaiGeki wrote:Was Quest for Clues the book of assorted game clues? If it was, I think I had the Book of Orbs (probably can check online). Anyway I remember it being frustrating because it wasn't a complete clue book and I was stuck on something in a game it didn't cover! Before the internet this was limiting.

I had a few clue books for different SSI games, but largely they were for the maps. Most tips I got from friends or computer magazines, hint books weren't that cheap. Sierra games were OK once you got used to the parser, didn't need them for Larry or Police Quest. Am planning a Kings Quest run through in the near future, hopefully it's not too obscure!

Ah yes, Quest for Clues, not Quest for Clue. Mea culpa.

I also remember, in the year 2000, I couldn't find any web page walkthrough for System Shock, but a downloadable UHS (Universal Hint System) instead.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby WolverineDK » 2018-6-11 @ 16:57

I used to have quite a few hintbooks from the UK magazine named GamesMaster, and a few other magazines too, such as certain N64 and PSX magazines. I even had Tips&Tricks from a Danish publisher whom also made the Danish magazine known as PC Player. Sadly I do not have many of those left at all, now a days. But back then, it was awesome using those hint and cheat books for many games.

DracoNihil: Are you talking about Universal Hint System ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Hint_System

But old school hints and cheats can be found here.

http://www.cheatbook.de/ (no worries, both the program and most of the other stuff is in English).

Also there is an older program here, known as The Ultimate Cheatlist

http://tucl.cheatlist.com/
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby DracoNihil » 2018-6-11 @ 17:46

WolverineDK wrote:DracoNihil: Are you talking about Universal Hint System ?


I dunno'... maybe? The fact there's no screenshots on the Wikipedia article doesn't help jog my memory. I only remember so much from my childhood.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby WolverineDK » 2018-6-11 @ 18:22

DracoNihil wrote:
WolverineDK wrote:DracoNihil: Are you talking about Universal Hint System ?


I dunno'... maybe? The fact there's no screenshots on the Wikipedia article doesn't help jog my memory. I only remember so much from my childhood.


Okay about the screenshots, but you could try to write UHS Windows, if you used windows for the program. But if you used Dos for the program, then you could search for UHS Dos. But it blows quite a lot that the open source version of UHS uses java. But oh well, at least there is an open source version of UHS.
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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2018-6-11 @ 18:56

I used to collect clue books and hint books back in the day. dont have a lot left anymore, sold most off.

Clue books were big pre internet.

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Re: Was it common to use a hintbook in 90s?

Postby robertmo » 2018-6-15 @ 02:02

https://archive.org/details/secretservi ... ?sort=date
Started before PC Gamer
Everyone can at least watch pictures and read titles :)
First issues had lots of adventure solutions from previous years.
Got them all in paper ;)
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