It pains me to admit this, but I've been playing point 'n' click adventure games for close to 30 years. That's actual decades. (Christ on a bike, man! Think of what great things you might have accomplished if you hadn't spent all that time lounging about like some pasty, goggle-eyed slug!) When LucasArts released its seminal adventure 'The Secret Of Monkey Island', I was a spotty adolescent who would routinely shun any form of social interaction in favour of sitting in the dark in front of my beloved Amiga 500. Many were the hours I spent combining a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle with a packet of breath mints in an often futile attempt to accomplish some impossibly silly task. My parents were of the view it was an embarrassing waste of time; time better spent mowing the lawn. I vehemently disagreed. I still do.
I'm firmly of the opinion that point 'n' click adventures are brilliant. Not all of them (I've played a few dogs over the years), but a great many. They hark back to a time when games realised there was more to life than shooting things in the face with large calibre firearms or leaping around platforms collecting bits of fruit. Not only could you play a point 'n' click adventure game at your own pace, you could succeed without needing the reflexes of a mongoose hopped up on crystal meth. If you had more than three brain cells to rub together and at least a passing familiarity with logic and common sense, you were suitably qualified.
It was revelation and revolution in equal measure. Given I'm both criminally lazy and have the reflexes of a week-old corpse, it's like someone had invented an entire genre just for me. While I haven't played every point 'n' click adventure game known to man, I've played a fair few, and so without further ado, I present to you the first half of a selection of games I believe represent the crème de la crème of the genre. They are, in no particular order, the absolute pinnacle of pointery-clickery goodness, and if you haven't played them already, I urge you to remedy this appalling state of affairs at once.
The Secret Of Monkey Island - LucasArts, 1990
It's an irrefutable fact that no self-respecting list of point 'n' click adventure games would be complete without including this. It's pretty much mandatory. Ron Gilbert's classic tale of the inept Guybrush Threepwood's bumbling attempt to become a pirate set the bar for every game since, and set it high. Featuring a great story, hilarious dialogue, insult sword-fights, a trouserless hermit, cannibals concerned about their cholesterol and one of the best video game villains ever in the ghost pirate, LeChuck - The Secret Of Monkey Island remains an absolute gem. What's more, back in 2009 LucasArts released its 'special edition' - a version remastered for modern systems. So? So, you dunce, you get fancy graphics, a streamlined interface, reworked music and sound effects, fully voiced characters and all the modern conveniences whiny entitled gamers demand in this day and age. Happy? No? Tough. Move along.
Monkey Island 2 - LeChuck's Revenge - LucasArts, 1991
Bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor, LeChuck's Revenge sees Guybrush searching for the legendary treasure of Big Whoop. Due to an endearing blend of stupidity and bad luck, young Threepwood accidentally revives his undead nemesis, LeChuck (now in zombie form), and must set about defeating him once again. The game spans multiple islands, comes in regular or lite (for the puzzle-challenged, though this option is not available in 2010's 'special edition' remaster), and features a colourful cast of misfits and weirdos, including a few familiar faces from the first game. Some of the puzzles are a little more obtuse, and I found the ending a bit disappointing, but there's a lot of game here and every ounce of it is both hilarious and entertaining. To be honest, LeChuck's Revenge is probably my favourite of the two. (And yes, some people will regard that statement as heresy and demand I be pelted with manure in the village square.)
Day Of The Tentacle - LucasArts, 1993
What happens when a sentient tentacle created by insane genius, Dr Fred Edison, ingests toxic waste? Predictably, it grows arms and attempts to take over the world. As mad as it sounds, Day Of The Tentacle is widely regarded as one of the best point 'n' click adventure games ever created. The demented brainchild of Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, the game sees nerdy Bernard, neurotic Laverne and permanently stoned Hoagie travel through time in a desperate effort to prevent the malevolent purple tentacle from conquering the planet and enslaving mankind. Each of the three characters is playable throughout, and items can be transferred between characters via the Chron-O-Johns (time travelling portable toilets) in order to solve puzzles. Peter Chan's vivid art style was inspired by Warner Bros. Looney Tunes, and the game looks very much like an interactive cartoon. The dialogue is both surreal and amusing, the characters entertaining and the puzzles challenging without ever becoming frustrating. In 2016, Schafer's Double Fine Productions released Day Of The Tentacle Remastered, featuring fancy high-resolution graphics, and enhanced music and sound effects. Your life will remain devoid of all meaning and purpose until you've played Day Of The Tentacle at least once.
Simon The Sorcerer - Adventure Soft, 1993
Just to prove someone other than LucasArts could make a quality point 'n' click adventure game, in 1993 British developers Adventure Soft gave us the magnificent Simon The Sorcerer. Taking inspiration from the Monkey Island games and Terry Pratchett's comical Discworld novels, Simon The Sorcerer sees the player inhabit the oversized robes and floppy hat of 12-year-old Simon, who is unceremoniously drawn into an enchanted portal in pursuit of his dog, Chippy. Finding himself in a magical realm populated by goblins, trolls, dragons and other fantasy staples, Simon promptly discovers he must save the kindly wizard Calypso from the clutches of the evil Sordid if he ever hopes to return home. Simon is voiced by the inimitable Chris 'Rimmer' Barrie (at the eye-watering cost of £3,000 per day, apparently), and the game takes a perverse delight in mercilessly parodying everything from Grimm's fairy tales to Dungeons & Dragons. The humour is unashamedly British and the game is relentlessly funny -- particularly the scene involving the lonely swampling and his "special stew".
The Longest Journey - Funcom, 1999
Not every point 'n' click adventure game needs to be a thigh-slapping chortle-fest in order to succeed. Sometimes, all it takes is some impressive writing, relatable characters and a genuinely affecting story. If anyone needed proof of this it's right here in Funcom's 1999 masterpiece, The Longest Journey. Assuming the persona of April Ryan, an 18-year-old art student living on the industrial world of Stark, the game weaves a long and complex tale involving, among other things, trans-dimensional travel, secret organisations, the conflict between technology and magic, corporate conspiracies and dragons. As a "shifter", April discovers she has the ability to move between worlds -- those worlds being Stark and Arcadia. While Stark is a somewhat sterile corporate-controlled universe heavily reliant on technology, Arcadia is a realm of magic and legend where mythical creatures exist alongside myriad strange races. When the balance between the two worlds is threatened, it's up to April to avert a cataclysm. Praised for its mature themes (there's some salty language going on here), intelligent and resourceful female protagonist, wonderful storytelling and creative puzzles ('creative' is occasionally a euphemism for 'illogical and frustrating'), The Longest Journey is a thoroughly absorbing game that will steal hours from your life. Just... don't mention the sequels.
Now that I've rambled on like a desperately lonely old man after far too much whiskey, I'd best end this here. Stay tuned for 'The Ten Best Point & Click Adventure Games... According To Me - Part Two'. Coming soon to a web browser near you.