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You read the blog. It's full of words! You're dead!


I love Kemco's pseudo-trilogy of point-and-click adventure games released on the NES from 1988-89. Deja Vu, Shadowgate, and Uninvited. The first two aren't terribly obscure: Deja Vu spawned a sequel, packaged with its predecessor, on the Gameboy Color in 1999. Shadowgate was ported to the handheld the same year, and probably helped to sell a handful more copies of the N64 sequel, Trial of the Four Towers, released just two months later. Deja Vu is probably the best inspiration you'll find for the Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk type P&CA games of today. Shadowgate seems to have inspired seedier references--any game which offers a larger variety of deaths than ways to win, such as (the inevitable future entry focus) Chulip.

Uninvited must have missed whatever minuscule window of opportunity Shadowgate and Deja Vu found themselves in, as it has faded into an extra-obscure realm of game history which even fans of its siblings rarely tread. I only happened upon the game by accident one day, drowsily browsing GameFAQs' companies list for something new to play and thinking "Kemco must have made more than two games in 20 years," (note: this was mildly accurate, though most of their games are ports or remakes or reports or poormakes--see what I did there).

Amazingly, our local McVan's had a copy of this secret gem which I snatched up and immediately brought home, cleaned, blew into, yelled at, begged, and then bribed into working on my NES. I started a new game file, read the beginning 'set up,' and the game was over. That may indicate the game is longer than it actually is. Let me rephrase: Power. Start. A button. The End.


You begin Deja Vu in a toliet. This is relatively true for the other games as well.


This is an important point because Kemco seems to have had a rule that each of these games could not be released without a set number of deaths waiting the player. The number was set at Absurd.

Uninvited has 22 possible ways to die scattered about its 15 minute-long plot. More than one death per minute. More deaths than dollars paid for the used game. You can die by opening a door, hitting a spider, carrying around a beautiful red gem, using an anti-zombie pendant on a zombie. These are not 22 expected and thoughtfully avoidable deaths. These are Shadowgate "Pick the book up off the sturdy, stone ledge and die" type events.


Get used to this.


This post surprisingly began by claiming I love Kemco's three, nearly-identical-outside-their-plot-games. And I do. But I can admit they are ridiculous, often absurd adventures that cannot possibly carry over today unless you really, really want to enjoy them. (Note: No one does.) Like most older games, though, that's part of their ongoing fun and charm: being able to laugh at them and yourself (and only myself, apparently) for still liking them.

And then, being able to play the even more condensed and hilarious mock Flash version. This game sums up all three titles pretty well. And it's actually win-able, which I can't say is absolutely true about the others.

There