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Phantasmagoria is 1st-person, 3rd-person (Other) Adventure game with gameplay.
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Blood and Gore Strong Sexual Content
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About This Game
- A thrilling storyline designed by a professional writer - Roberta Williams
- One of the first games utilizing full-motion video technology so well
- See for yourself what caused so much controversy around this game!
- OS *: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10
- Processor: 1.0 GHz
- Memory: 256 MB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 7 Compatible 3D Card
- DirectX: Version 7.0
- Storage: 2 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
- Processor: 1.4 GHz
- Memory: 512 MB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 9 Compatible 3D Card
- DirectX: Version 9.0
© 1995 Activision Publishing, Inc. Activision is a registered trademark of Activision Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners. DosBox © 1989-2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc. for more information go to http:// http://www.dosbox.com/
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Three shocking tales of horror that will get you beyond fear. From the mind of the filmmaker Domiziano Cristopharo (House of Flesh Mannequins, Bloody Sin of Horror, Poe: Poetry of Eerie) and Mickael Abbate (Festival Director of "Samain du cinéma fantastique"), Phantasmagoria is a Franco-Italian co production.
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- A thrilling storyline designed by a professional writer - Roberta Williams
- One of the first games utilizing full-motion video technology so well
- See for yourself what caused so much controversy around this game!
© 1995 Activision Publishing, Inc. Activision is a registered trademark of Activision Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.
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Phantasmagoria (aka Phantasmagoria I  , and abbreviated as Phantas ) is a CD-ROM horror -themed video game created by Sierra On-line for the DOS and Windows platforms, and later for the Sega Saturn in Japan. The game was released in 1995 and was followed by a sequel, Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh released in 1996 .
Made during the height of the " interactive movie " boom in the computer game industry , Phantasmagoria is notable for being one of the first adventure games to use a live actor as an on-screen avatar, as it starred Victoria Morsell . The game was released on seven CDs to accommodate the massive amount of video generated by this process, the creation of which was contracted by Sierra to Kronos Digital Entertainment (who had previously worked on Sierra's King's Quest 6 ). Large portions of data were repeated on each CD, to avoid disk swapping when playing the game.
- 1 Storyline
- 2 Production
- 3 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Storyline [ ]
The story by Roberta Williams , somewhat similar to that of The Shining , revolves around paperback writer Adrienne Delaney, who has together with her husband Donald Gordon just bought a remote, enormous mansion previously owned by a famous magician in the late 19th century, Zoltan "Carno" Carnovasch.
Phantasmagoria (1995) PC Playthrough
Adrienne is hoping to get in the mood for writing her next novel and Don, a photographer, wants to photograph things. Immediately upon moving into the house, Adrienne begins having nightmares.
The story begins with Donald taking some pictures of the house from the mainland and upon taking a picture of the house door it bleeds into on one Adriannes nightmares of her being locked up in a contraption before being comforted by Donald
Adrienne unwittingly releases it shortly after moving in during her exploration of the manor and it possesses Don. Don becomes more aggressive towards his wife and even rapes her in a controversial scene. Soon she receives ominous messages from a fortune teller machine in the manor, as well as occasionally hearing strange music. She meets Harriet, a homeless superstitious woman taking refuge in her barn along with her mentally challenged son. Adrienne digs into her new home's history and learns of the deaths of Carno's wives and his daughter Sofia. As far as the townspeople know, the wives died naturally however tragically, but as Adrienne explores the house she starts to see visions of the murders taking place. Carno murdered his wives in grotesque ways remotely connected to their enjoyed hobby or career; Hortencia, who spent most of her time in the greenhouse is stabbed with gardening tools before being suffocated with mulch; Victoria (an alcoholic ) is killed when Carno slams her head onto a wine bottle that's on the table during an argument (the bottle goes through her eye); an overly talkative third wife, Leonora, has her head turned 360 degrees in one of Carno's contraptions , and finally (in another of the game's most controversial film sequences), the food-loving Regina is force fed animal entrails through a funnel until she chokes and dies.
Exploring further, Adrienne finds out that Carno met his demise when his last wife, Marie, realized he was a murderer. Marie conspired with her lover, Gaston, to kill Carno by sabotaging the equipment for his most famous and dangerous escapology trick; inspired by " The Pit and the Pendulum " by Edgar Allan Poe , Carno would escape from being strapped to a chair with a built-in axe that swung back and forth above him and lowering until it killed him, all while his head was covered with a burning hood.
The plan went wrong and both Marie and Gaston were killed by a rather much alive Carno two weeks later, although Carno is killed at the hands of a mutilated Gaston before the latter dies from his injuries. The sole witness to these events was a young boy by the name of Malcolm. Now 110 years old, he informs Adrienne of what occurred and how she must stop the evil. Meanwhile, Harriet, fearing for her safety, decides to leave as Don becomes more abusive and erratic. After finding the disturbing contents of her husband's darkroom, Adrienne is chased around the manor by the now deranged and homicidal Don until she is confronted by him wearing the now dead Harriet's scalp and hair. She manages to kill him and release the demon despite being placed in the chair/axe contraption last used by Carno to kill Marie. With the demon released she brings it to a dungeon downstairs and is able to perform a ritual that traps the demon before it can kill her. With the demon and her husband dead she leaves the house with the nightmare behind her.
Production [ ]
Actress Victoria Morsell spent months in front of a bluescreen filming the hundreds of actions players could direct her character to perform.  The game script was about 550 pages long, four times the size of a regular movie script, and an additional 100 pages of storyboards set the style for the over 800 scenes in the game.  The game required four months of filming alone and over 200 people were involved in the production, not counting the Gregorian choir of 135 people that was used for parts of the music in the game. Template:Citation needed The final chase sequence took a week to film. 
Reception [ ]
Phantasmagoria was a notable outing for designer Roberta Williams , best known for her family games like the King's Quest series. Featuring graphic gore, violence and a rape scene, the game stirred controversy over age restrictions and target audiences in the maturing game industry. It was banned in Australia; while CompUSA and other major retailers simply refused to carry it. The game was never banned in Germany, but had an 18-Rating. Despite the controversy, Phantasmagoria was Sierra's best-selling game in 1995 and one of the best-selling PC games of the year. Template:Citation needed
Reviews from the major editorials of the time were positive Template:Citation needed : Computer Gaming World gave the game 4 and a half (out of 5) stars, and an Editor's Choice Award; Template:Citation needed PC Gamer scored it an 88% and also rewarded it with its Editor's Choice distinction.  Computer Game Review (now defunct) applauded Phantasmagoria with its Golden Triad Award. Template:Citation needed Jeff Sengstack of GameSpot however, gave Phantasmagoria a 6.0 "Fair" rating and commented that "experienced adventurers will find Phantasmagoria generally unchallenging, the characters weak, the violence over-the-top, and the script just lame." 
Phantasmagoria was also ported to the Sega Saturn . This version, exclusively targeted at Japan, was developed and released by Outrigger Corporation in 1997. Renamed Phantasm , it featured eight CDs and was fully translated and dubbed into Japanese.
Although Roberta Williams was asked by Sierra to produce a third game in the series,  no further titles were produced.
In a 2006 interview,  Roberta Williams cited Phantasmagoria as the game most representative of her game design career.
A boxed set of both Phantasmagoria games was released in 1999, called Phantasmagoria Stagefright .
On 11 February 2010 , Good Old Games re-released Phantasmagoria for sale by digital download . 
See also [ ]
- Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh
- Phantasmagoria Stagefright
References [ ]
- ↑ according to some of the catalogues, see 1996-1997 Sierra games catalogue (one of Sierra's European catalogues)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Template:Cite web
- ↑ Metacritic: Phantasmagoria (pc: 1995)
- ↑ Phantasmagoria review at GameSpot, May 1, 1996
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/phantasmagoria
External links [ ]
- Template:Moby game
- Interview with Roberta Williams , Adventure Classic Gaming
- Review of Phantasmagoria
- Interview with Stan Liu of Kronos Digital , at GameCritics.com
- Interview with Lorelei Shannon , at La Aventura es la Aventura
- 1 Adrienne Delaney
- 2 Nipawomsett Village
- 3 Phantasmagoria
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- Cast & crew
- User reviews
A young successful author and her photographer husband buy a stunning and mysterious mansion on the outskirts of a small town in New England, but soon enough start to experience maddening ho... Read all A young successful author and her photographer husband buy a stunning and mysterious mansion on the outskirts of a small town in New England, but soon enough start to experience maddening horrors of its previous owner. A young successful author and her photographer husband buy a stunning and mysterious mansion on the outskirts of a small town in New England, but soon enough start to experience maddening horrors of its previous owner.
- Peter Maris
- Roberta Williams
- Victoria Morsell
- Robert Miano
- 18 User reviews
- 5 Critic reviews
- Adrienne Delaney
- Old Malcolm
- Young Malcolm
- (as Karl Niemiec)
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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- Trivia Victoria Morsell 's street clothes that she wore to the set to the first day of filming were deemed more appropriate for her character than the outfit that was planned, so she wore that outfit for the entire 15 weeks of filming. By the end of shooting, the jeans were held together with duct tape and patches.
- Goofs One of pages of Lou Ann's scrapbook says that Carno stayed in hospital for two weeks, but next page says that he left the hospital after about eight days.
[Adrienne is in the greenhouse. She picks up the gardening trowel which triggers a vision of Carno and his first wife Hortencia. Hortencia is humming to herself potting her plants, Carno walks up behind her]
Adrienne Delaney : Wha?
[Carno begins to kiss the back of Hortencia's neck, then roughly spins her around and tries to kiss her. Hortencia, who has been in depressed mood since Carno killed their baby daughter Sofia, pushes away Carno's embrace]
Hortencia Gomez Carnovasch : Zoltan! Leave me alone to my plants.
Zoltan 'Carno' Carnovasch : [hissing] Yeesssss.
[Carno picks up the gardening trowel which has a scoop full of dirt on it and shoves it in Hortencia's mouth, cutting the side of her mouth]
Hortencia Gomez Carnovasch : MMMMMMMPPPHHHHH!
[Hortencia spits out the dirt and screams]
Hortencia Gomez Carnovasch : Aaaaaaahhhhhhh! Waaaaahhhh! Ahhh! SHHHRRIIIEEEK! MMMMMMPPHH!
[Carno has thrown Hortencia to the ground, sitting on her chest and begins to shovel mulch into her mouth with the gardening trowel]
Zoltan 'Carno' Carnovasch : HA HA HA HA HA HA! MMMH HA HA HA HA HA!
[Carno laughs maniacially as he continues to shovel scoop after scoop of mulch into Hortencia's mouth until she suffocates]
Zoltan 'Carno' Carnovasch : Yes! YOUR PLANTS! YESSSS! THE PLANTS!
Adrienne Delaney : Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!
[Adrienne throws down the trowel and runs out of the greenhouse]
- Connections Featured in Computer Chronicles: Greatest Computer Games (1995)
- Soundtracks Consumite Furore Written by Mark Seibert Performed by Mark Seibert The CSUF Concert Choir conducted by Dr. Gary Unruh Recorded at Maximus Engineered by Jeff Hall
User reviews 18
- Feb 3, 2000
- August 1995 (United States)
- United States
- Sierra Entertainment
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- Clock Tower (1995)
- Dark Seed 2 (1995)
- Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within (1995)
- Harvester (1996)
- Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh (1996)
Phantasmagoria is a point-and-click adventure horror video game designed by Roberta Williams for MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows and released by Sierra On-Line on August 24, 1995. It tells the story of Adrienne Delaney (Victoria Morsell), a writer who moves into a remote mansion and finds herself terrorized by supernatural forces. It was made at the peak of popularity for interactive movie games and features live-action actors and footage, both during cinematic scenes and within the three-dimensionally rendered environments of the game itself. It was noted for its violence and sexual content.
- Nintendo 64
- Nintendo NES
- Nintendo Super NES
- Nintendo Game Boy
- Nintendo Game Boy Color
- Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Phantasmagoria is an FMV point-and-click adventure game, notable for spanning seven discs . A much lower-resolution version was ported to the Sega Saturn two years later, but only in Japan.
A spiritual sequel, Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh , was released in 1996.
- 1.1.1 Foyer
- 1.1.2 Darkroom
- 1.1.3 Exterior
- 1.2.1 Library
- 1.2.2 New England
- 1.3 Prototype Title Screen
- 2.1 Hintkeeper Lines
- 3.1 Missing Chapter
- 3.2 Missing Rooms
- 3.3 Dummy Strings
- 3.4 Bogus Messages
- 3.5 Miscellaneous Strings
Sierra's SCI engine (Sierra Creative Interpreter) uses at least four different graphical formats in Phantasmagoria :
- Pictures - Basic bitmaps, usually reserved for pre-rendered backgrounds for the player character to walk around on.
- Views - Animated sprites (and sometimes foreground masks). More than two-thirds of the files depict Adrienne (the player character).
- Robots - Similar to Views, but also contain sound. These are usually higher-resolution (not to exceed 640×480 pixels) and can last up to a minute.
- VMDs - Full-motion video (FMV) files. While there are no unused VMDs, running the game on modern hardware may never play the lower-framerate FMVs which exist on the discs for computers which didn't meet the system requirements in 1995. They can be viewed by deliberately underclocking DOSBox and running the MS-DOS version of Phantasmagoria , but are not any different content-wise.
Early Pre-Rendered Backgrounds
All of these are in the Picture format described above. These exist in the engine's enormous resource archives and are never displayed in-game.
The first in a series of renderings which were left over in the final product. Most noticeable is the maximum brightness caused by a lack of (or disabled) lighting entities when the scene was saved. This forward shot of the ground level foyer has a noticeably different seal on the marble floor and the rug underneath the grand piano has been changed between versions. The bluish-green mural is missing from the wall leading into the theater. The door on said wall is always closed in the early render, whereas the final uses a sprite overlay (hence why there appears to be no door in the registered version's image).
A different angle from the same room. This shot of the spiral staircase leading up to the second floor hallway was also rendered without lighting. The abstract statue's base is only present in the early render, while the staircase's railing has what appears to be a flourish not present in the final (albeit untextured).
Don's photography darkroom appears almost overexposed in the early render. While the layout appears consistent between both versions right down to the overturned bottles of acid on the left, the early image's nicely-bumpmapped brick wall didn't make the cut and was replaced with a dull color.
A more interesting look at what the mansion's exterior used to look like. Nearly everything has changed, ranging from look and size of the kitchen windows to the handle-less side door which appears curved at the top instead of rectangular. The poorly-textured logs were corrected for the final release, while the grass was much less taken care of in the early render.
A collection of unused backgrounds, also in the Picture format.
An extreme closeup of the bookshelf in the library. Notice the poorly-stretched and tiled binding texture. While there exists a background which depicts the bookshelf, the view is never zoomed in this closely.
This is the exit door from the ridiculous lawyer's office, inside looking out. The only noticeable change from the final is the lack of a view outside. A blue void acted as a placeholder while the scenic Rhode Island-ish town was being created.
Prototype Title Screen
A rather elaborate piece of artwork which ultimately went unused. The retail version of Phantasmagoria lacks a true title screen: the opening FMV immediately leads to the main menu with a simple list of options for starting a new game, changing discs, adjusting settings, etc. This style of "fancy" lettering was seen in early marketing material for the game before the artists settled on a more "pointed" font for both titles in the series.
This is notably the first file present on all seven discs' resource archives.
The Hintkeeper is the red skull in the bottom-left corner of the screen who provides hints to the player when they are stuck. He has vocal samples for each of the seven discs (seven chapters), except the chase climax during the end of the last disc. Even though they were recorded and left on the disc, they are never played. Roberta Williams, the game's designer, addressed this in an interview, claiming that the player would not have time to stop and listen to the Hintkeeper while attempting to navigate the last time-limited and reaction-based part of the game.
a0110e00.031 - Look closer at the sarcophagus in the crypt; take the rosary beads.
a0110e00.041 - Head to the backstage make-up room. Find the snowman in Don's vest pocket.
a0110e00.061 - Quickly, run out the door.
a0110e00.0a1 - Go to the attic, you need the cameo broach in the old trunk.
a0110e00.0c1 - Grab the drain cleaner with your free hand.
a0110e00.0d1 - Run to the nursery to get the glass shard lying on the floor.
a0110e00.0f1 - Quickly search Don's vest lying on the make-up room floor. Find the snowman ornament.
a0110e00.0g1 - When Don is not in the darkroom, run back there, grab the spell book on the center table.
a0110e00.0i1 - Quickly pull the lever on the chair with your free hand. Unfortunately, you have to kill Don.
a0110e00.0j1 - Run to the now open theater's secret panel.
a0110e00.0k1 - Run down the passage to the broken stairs.
Unused text from inside the resource files.
This file contains debugging strings along with an entry for a "Chapter 8". Phantasmagoria "only" ships with seven discs, each containing one chapter.
This file contains strings for rooms which don't exist in the final version. There is no "3rd floor hallway" in the mansion, and "Collectables" is unknown. Chapter 8 is mentioned again.
The following strings seem to pad most of the textual resource files.
Textual resource files which don't contain the above padding strings contain a variety of "bogus" messages.
Strings that don't belong anyplace else.
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Phantasmagoria (1995) (Sierra Online) (MS-DOS CD-ROM)
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Welcome to Phantasmagoria Magazine!
Meet our editor.
Phantasmagoria editor Trevor Kennedy is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and has been working in the genre literary field for around ten years now, although he has been a fan of all things weird and fantastical for as long as he can remember. He is also radio presenter for Big Hits Radio UK and podcaster for Citizen Frame film review podcast. His day job is a complaints handler for Channel 4. Previous employment includes as a lithographic colour proofer, composite operator for Bombardier Shorts aircraft manufacturers, the BBC Complaints department, call centre operative and brief stints as a security guard and industrial cleaner. He can be contacted directly on the Contact form below or by email at: [email protected]
Five Years of Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi
Phantasmagoria first appeared in 2017, the debut issue landing on Hallowe’en of that year. Inspired by the British genre publications of the 1970s, ’80s and early-’90s, its ethos has always been to celebrate horror, fantasy and science fiction in its many varying forms, paying tribute to the masters of the past whilst looking ahead to the future.
In 2019, the spin-off Special Edition Series was launched, each volume focused on a specific genre writer or theme. Special Editions so far have been dedicated to R. Chetwynd-Hayes, The Lovecraft Squad series of books edited by Stephen Jones, M.R. James, Ramsey Campbell, Karl Edward Wagner, Brian Lumley and Fantasy Tales.
Highly Respected Contributors
Contributors to Phantasmagoria have included such highly respected names in the field as (in alphabetical order) Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Jones, Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Samantha Lee, Thomas Ligotti, Alison Littlewood, Brian Lumley, Graham Masterton, Michael Moorcock, Kim Newman, David J. Schow, David A. Sutton and Steve Rasnic Tem, along with many others, alongside artwork by the likes of Randy Broecker, Dave Carson, Les Edwards, Stephen E. Fabian, Allen Koszowski, David Lloyd, Jim Pitts, Roberto Segate, Andrew Smith, and more.
Phantasmagoria is a non-political publication that welcomes everyone from all walks of life and backgrounds as we strive forward on our continuing mission to celebrate and examine our genre – past, present and future.
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Phantasmagoria #23, kong @ 90 .
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Special edition #8, women in horror .
This issue is dedicated to "Women in Horror" past and present! Featuring Jill Bauman, Margaret Brundage, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, Jan Edwards, Jo Fletcher, Sèphera Girón, Nancy Holder, Shirley Jackson, Nancy Kilpatrick, Samantha Lee, Tanith Lee, Alison Littlewood, Maura McHugh, Lisa Morton, Marion Pitman, Kathryn Ptacek, Tina Rath, Lynda E. Rucker, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Mary Shelley, Mandy Slater, Angela Slatter, Barbara Steele, Jessica Stevens, Lisa Tuttle, Mike Ashley, Randy Broecker, Dave Carson, Malachy Coney, David Del Valle, Stephen Jones, John Kaiine, Stephen E. Korshak, Allen Koszowski, Jim Pitts, Andrew Smith, David A. Sutton and many others !
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Fantasy tales .
45th anniversary tribute to the classic genre publication Fantasy Tales ! With contributions by Clive Barker, Randy Broecker, Ramsey Campbell, Dave Carson, Adrian Cole, Dennis Etchison, Stephen E. Fabian, Jo Fletcher, Neil Gaiman, Charles L. Grant, Stephen Jones, Garry Kilworth, Allen Koszowski, Joe R. Lansdale, Gordon Larkin, Samantha Lee, Thomas Ligotti, David Lloyd, Brian Lumley, Richard Christian Matheson, Michael Moorcock, Kim Newman, Russ Nicholson, Marion Pitman, Jim Pitts, Kathryn Ptacek, David J. Schow, Darrell Schweitzer, Andrew Smith, Sylvia Starshine, David A. Sutton, Steve Rasnic Tem, Peter Tremayne, and many others!
Big interviews bumper edition.
The BIG INTERVIEWS BUMPER ISSUE features interviews with Randy Broecker, Adrian Cole, Anastasia Diakidi, Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe, Paul Finch, Mick Garris, Stephen Jones, Kevin R. McNally, Roberto Segate and Stephen Volk!
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Brian lumley collector's edition .
Our Brian Lumley Special! Articles, artwork, reviews, and two interviews and fiction (including an original novella!) by Brian Lumley!
Featuring Randy Broecker, Dave Carson, Steve Dilks, Les Edwards, Bob Eggleton, Stephen E. Fabian, W. Paul Ganley, John Howard, Stephen Jones, Allen Koszowski, Brian Lumley, Jim Pitts, Robert M. Price, Darrell Schweitzer, Andrew Smith, David A. Sutton, Robert Weinberg and many others.
Fantasy artist dave carson.
Featuring interviews with fantasy artist Dave Carson, Stephen Jones and Peter Coleborn, Will Jordan/The Critical Drinker, Lisa Vasquez and Anna Biller! Plus: Carl T. Ford tribute, Lucio Fulci, Manhunter, The Thing, fiction, artwork, reviews and much, much more!
Graham masterton new story .
Not only Graham Masterton's brand new story but interviews with C.J. Campbell, Jesse D'Angelo, Sèphera Girón, Jeremy Kasten and David A. Riley! Also: A tribute to Bryn Fortey, Frankenstein (and his Monster!), Romero's The Amusement Park (1973), Pet Sematary, Jupiter's Legacy, Adrian Baldwin's Devil's Acre, fiction, reviews, artwork and much, much more!
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Karl edward wagner .
A special Collector's edition of Phantasmagoria Magazine celebrating Karl Edward Wagner. Includes stories, articles, artwork, reviews and much more!
Fantasy artist andrew smith .
Featuring an interview and portfolio with fantasy artist Andrew Smith, along with interviews with Mike Chinn, Peter Crowther and Nancy Kilpatrick! Plus: Stephen King film adaptations, 10 Rillington Place, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Get Writing Horror group, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, 1990s horror films, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, fiction, artwork, reviews and more!
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Ramsey campbell special .
A dedication to one of the true literary greats -- Ramsey Campbell! Featuring a sublime collection of contributions by Ramsey Campbell himself and many of his friends, colleagues and family over the last few decades, including Eddy C. Bertin, S.T. Joshi, Stephen King, Alison Littlewood, David Mathew, Kim Newman and Michael Marshall Smith, with commentary by Clive Barker, Jonathan Carroll, Jeremy Dyson, Harlan Ellison, Jo Fletcher, Neil Gaiman, Thomas Ligotti, RC Matheson, Adam Nevill, David J. Schow, Lisa Tuttle and many more! Also featuring artwork by Randy Broecker, Dave Carson, Les Edwards, Eddie Jones, Stephen Jones, Allen Koszowski, Jim Pitts, Pete Von Sholly and Joe X. Young!
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M. r. james special .
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Winter extravaganza .
Christmas/Winter Extravaganza 2020/2021! Interviews with Peter Atkins, Laura Bertram, David J. Howe, Johnny Mains, Sean O' Connor, Marie O'Regan and Steve Rasnic Tem! Also: The Art of Pulp Horror, The Curse of the Cat People, Misery, Italian cinema, American Psycho, Doctor Who, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, 1980s horror films, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, fiction, artwork, reviews and more!
Randy broecker .
Plus Ramsey Campbell and Richard Chizmar! Interviews with Malachy Coney, Anna Taborska, Douglas Tait and Mathew Waters! Plus: Elak, King of Atlantis with Adrian Cole and Jim Pitts, Stephen Jones' The Best of Best New Horror: Volume Two, The Phantom of the Opera, Psycho, Jaws, Candyman, Quatermass, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Twilight Zone, Before You Blow Out the Candle... Book Two, 1970s horror films, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, fiction, artwork, reviews and more!
Graham masterton .
Interviews with Graham Masterton, Aidan Chambers, Lynn Lowry, Casey Biggs, Simon Fisher-Becker, Byddi Lee and Lynda E. Rucker! World exclusive extract from Graham Masterton's upcoming new novel THE HOUSE OF A HUNDRED WHISPERS! Also: Stephen Jones' THE BEST OF BEST NEW HORROR, exclusive artwork by Randy Broecker, Ramsey Campbell's THE WISE FRIEND, John Stewart tribute, Frankenstein, BATMAN BEGINS, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, WAR OF THE WORLDS, PLANET OF THE APES, ALIENS vs PREDATOR -- REQUIEM, 1960s horror films, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, fiction, artwork, reviews and more!
Special Edition #2
The lovecraft squad .
The Lovecraft Squad Special! Featuring Mike Chinn, Adrian Cole, Douglas Klauba, Lisa Morton, Kim Newman, John Llewellyn Probert, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith and series creator Stephen Jones! Also: H. P. Lovecraft's classic story "The Outsider", artwork galleries by Dave Carson, Allen Koszowski and Jim Pitts, Lovecraftian fiction, articles, reviews and more!
Laurence r. harvey .
Interviews with Laurence R. Harvey, Adrienne Barbeau, Jo Zebedee, LMR Clarke and Marc Damian Lawler! Also: Dracula, Star Wars, Ramsey Campbell's The Influence, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Batman sequels, 1950s horror films, Belfast's Film Devour festival, Parasite, Doctor Who, Star Trek: Picard, The Witcher, Birds of Prey, fiction, reviews and much more!
Johnny mains .
Christmas/winter special! Interviews with Johnny Mains, Mike Chinn, Sophie Aldred, Sharon Clarke and Ciaran Woods! Also: Terrance Dicks tribute, The Wicker Man, Alien, The Expanse, The Lighthouse, Modern Witchcraft, 1940s horror films, The War of the Worlds, Dr. Dave, Christmas horror stories, Adrian Baldwin shorts Egor's Emporium and Pied!, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Unbearable Shiteness of Boredom comic strip, Jim Pitts, Allen Koszowski, reviews and so much more!
Special Edition #1
R. chetwynd-hayes .
A special edition of Phantasmagoria Magazine celebrating the centenary of R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Britain's "Prince of Chill". Includes stories, articles, artwork, reviews and much more!
Halloween special 2019! Interviews with Samantha Lee, Roberto Segate, Adrian Cole, Jo Fletcher, Jeff Strand, Nikki Noir, Owen Quinn and PS Publishing! Also: Bumper Halloween stories, Devil's Haircut comic strip, 3 From Hell, IT: Chapter 2, Tarantino, The Boys, Jim Pitts, Allen Koszowski, Batman (1989), Return of the Living Dead, 1930s horror films, Dr. Dave, conventions, Belfast's Film Devour festival, Carl R. Jennings, Robert Donaldson, reviews and much more!
Allen koszowski .
Fantasy artist Allen Koszowski! Stephen Jones and Randy Broecker talk 'Terrifying Tales to Tell at Night'! Lina Leandersson on starring in 'Let the Right One In'! 'The Exorcist'! Interviews with horror authors Peter Coleborn, Jan Edwards, Sam Stone, David J. Howe and Dave Jeffery! Also: Neil Gaiman's 'Good Omens', 'Stranger Things', 'Midsommar', 'Black Mirror', 'Friday the 13th', Russell Holbrook, classic female horror authors, 1920s horror films, Aurora monster models, Comic Book Guys, Jim Pitts, Stevie Brennan, original fiction, reviews and much more!
Bumper summer special .
Bumper summer special! Featuring interviews with Richard O'Brien (Rocky Horror and The Crystal Maze), fantasy artist Jim Pitts, writers/publishers David A. Riley, David A. Sutton and Dean M. Drinkel, and Australian film maker Sarah Stephenson. Features on George R.R. Martin, The Twilight Zone, Universal monsters, Planet of the Apes and The Matrix. Original fiction, reviews, Dr. Dave and more!
Fighting fantasy gamebooks .
Fighting Fantasy gamebooks special! Featuring interviews with Fighting Fantasy creators/authors Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, FF author Jonathan Green and FF artist Les Edwards. A FF tribute article also and Dr. Dave's Top 10 FF Gamebooks. ALSO: Interviews with leading ladies of horror Jennifer Rubin ('A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors') and Patricia Quinn ('The Rocky Horror Picture Show' and 'The Lords of Salem'). Plus, horror film director Joshua Kennedy talks 'House of the Gorgon'. INCLUDING: George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DC horror comics, original fiction, reviews and more!
Stephen jones .
Featuring interviews with Stephen Jones, Shauna MacDonald and Karl O'Rowe. Christmas ghost stories, Stan Lee tribute, FEAR Magazine at 30, Journey to the Unknown, Batman - Arkham Asylum, The Fog, reviews, dark poetry and much, much more!
First year anniversary issue .
Interviews with Stephen Volk and Karina Sims, articles on Video Nasties, Alien, 'Salem's Lot and The Munsters, top 10 Halloween films, original fiction, dark poetry, reviews and much more!
Ramsey campbell & barbie wilde.
Interviews with Ramsey Campbell and Barbie Wilde, articles on JRR Tolkien, Doctor Who, Hannibal Lecter and Hammer Horror films. Original fiction, dark poetry, reviews and much, much more!
Summer special 2018 .
Interviews with Tim Dry and Norbert Gora. Articles on JRR Tolkien, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Kaiju cinema, Dr. Terror and Peter Cushing. Original fiction, dark poetry, reviews and much more!
Dean m. drinkel .
Interviews with Dean M. Drinkel, Paula D. Ashe and Soraya Abuchaim. Evil Dead, zombies on TV, original fiction and reviews.
Raven dane & russell holbrook .
Interviews with Raven Dane and Russell Holbrook, articles on Shirley Jackson, The X-Files and Night Gallery, original fiction, dark poetry and reviews of literature, film and television.
Fear tribute .
FEAR Magazine tribute, John Gilbert, Adrian Baldwin, Christmas ghost stories, reviews of literature, film and television. And much more!
Our very first edition .
Halloween 2017 saw the publication of our first ever issue. Interviews, articles, features, short stories, dark poetry, artwork, reviews and much more!
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Just Games Retro
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Phantasmagoria. The game that made us wonder if sweet King’s Quest /Mixed Up Mother Goose designer Roberta Williams had secret “issues.” The game spoken of in mostly hushed tones and shocked awe – “Did you SEE that part where that girl got killed?” “Did you SEE that rape scene!?” And the game that did or did not revolutionize the “interactive movie,” depending on who you talk to. Does it deserve all of this ruckus it has stirred up over the years? Sure. Is it the scariest game ever made? Sadly, no.
A “phantasmagoria” was a term for an old Vaudville-era show using an early, crude form of a slide projector (called a magic lantern) and some silk screens positioned just to the sides of the stage, to project the images of spirits and ghosts “floating” in the theatre. The term makes for a fitting title. The game is about an old Vaudville magician named Carno, famous for his horrific stage acts and gruesome ghost shows, and the couple who inherit his twisted estate. It also is unintentionally a fitting description for the game itself – a lot of magic lanterns and silk screens that produce great-looking effects, that ultimately distract you from the story and terror that aren’t there.
Horror games, like horror movies, are difficult to review with any accuracy, because the experience is more subjective than any other genre. What scares one person may not scare another, and may be completely too much for a third. The best I can really do is tell you how the game affected me and why. Despite hoping that this could finally be it, the scariest psychological thriller I’ve ever played, Phantasmagoria didn’t scare me, didn’t even make me a little unsettled. It reminded me the most of the 90’s remake of The House On Haunted Hill – a campy plot with the only updates made to the raunchy, full color gore.
You play as mystery novelist Adrienne Delaney (Victoria Morsell). Her husband Don (David Homb) is a magazine photographer who happens across the old island and mansion estate of Zoltan “Carno” Carnovasch while on one of his shoots. Apparently it is for sale, and game opens in your first day in the new home. This gives an excuse for you to have not fully explored the place yet, and you, being a mystery writer and all, set out to poke around the strange mansion. Along the way, you’ll discover a bit of the history of Carno and the house, meet some new friends, find the expected bevy of hidden secrets, and unintentionally release a demon that inhabits the body of your husband and turns him into a raging asshole.
The game takes the digital actor idea Sierra used in creating its characters for later versions of Police Quest , and applies it to video. The actors are shot in front of a bluescreen and composited into an elaborate digital background. In theory, this is meant to create the feeling of watching a movie and directing its outcome, while being cost-effective by using real actors without building any actual sets. Roberta Williams also stated in many interviews that she believed having real people as the characters was crucial to creating horror and empathy for them, and I suppose I see her point. Yet in practice, the execution isn’t a great deal different than any other adventure game, and the human actor isn’t treated or handled differently than an animated character.
In previous games, your animated character would stand stock still until you click somewhere in the gameworld. The character then goes through a few cycles of animation as he/she/it saunters over to the specified point, then goes still again. The identical sequence occurs here, with slightly more fluid “animation” as you watch a video sequence of Adrienne walking, and a slightly more odd feel as the video goes to a still image of her in a “default” position, waiting for new input. Her default position is to stand like a Marine at attention, and every single action or move she takes requires her to both start and end in this position. It’s annoying, but forgivable, to watch constant extra seconds of her walking around to her starting position, flipping her hair back, and awkwardly straightening up and looking ahead, to match the still image shown next.
There is also the much-panned fact that she doesn’t change her clothes for a week. Technical reasons are the excuse, but I’m not going to say that it detracted in any way from the game. It does reinforce that she’s just another adventure game character, this time made of video instead of artwork.
As this is an interactive movie, there must be equal balance between the interacting and the movie. I must give credit to Williams; she mostly avoids getting enamored with the idea of making a movie (the pitfall of so many ’90s game designers), and keeps the intent of making a game at the forefront. Non-interactive sequences are thankfully brief, and mostly relegated to a opening and closing movie for each chapter, and dialogue or object examination scenes within. The other sections, as Adrienne navigates the digital environment, are frequently edited down to the start of her walk and a new shot of the end of her arrival at her destination. I don’t think it ever took more than a second to move from place to place, and a “fast forward” button has been included to jump ahead to the end of any movement cycle. Don’t worry about using this feature – any key plot scenes are shown in a separate movie format that use the escape key to skip instead of the button.
Another brilliant move is to divide the game appropriately across seven chapters, and seven discs. This limits your disc-swapping to the start of a new chapter, and you can explore the entire mansion grounds without having to switch discs for certain rooms or unique events. There’s only one section where you must retreat to a previous disc, but this is for the longest “plot revelation” movie sequence in the game. This system works quite well, and is very appreciated.
The most important thing that can be said about the graphics is that they match video and prerendered graphics pretty well. The video characters exhibit some pixelation not present in the backgrounds, but this is light and not anywhere near Sega CD level. Otherwise, spill from the bluescreen is negligible or simply not there, lighting on the characters match the lighting of the virtual space, and the scale is appropriate and believable. The non-interactive movie sequences can be seen in a full-frame (a little more than half of the available screen) format, or a quarter-screen with scanlines option for slower computers. The smaller screen is serviceable, but the full screen option offers a complete image, is the same size as the rest of the game and thus more seamless, and is the obvious choice if you are able to use it.
The mansion seems to have been built by the same contractor who put up Stauf’s mansion in The 7th Guest . Oak, marble, and gold trim are judiciously used, along with some gaudy fabrics to give it an overwhelmingly Victorian, opulent feel. Carno’s mansion has a distinctly carnival atmosphere, both in decoration and music, presumably meant to reflect his character. It also has the effect of making the environment seem more like a sideshow, and less in the realm of standard or Gothic horror. It is also far better lit, and decorated with much brighter colors, than 7th Guest. I found this to make the game seem a little more childish, and a little less unsettling or foreboding, but perhaps the contrast was their intent. It also features a number of digital outdoor areas, with digital trees, water, and the like. They look a little goofy in comparison to the indoor areas, but it seems like some small attempt was made at making them look stylistically unreal, like a Tim Burton set. A digital mainland town is also present with a few stores you can visit, and generally looks far better than your island and garden areas.
The characters are a varied group, all performed well by a collection of TV and B-movie actors. There’s a full range from you and your husband, to the antique store owner who has a lot of convenient information on Carno. There’s an even more convenient hundred-year-old man (Douglas Seale) who lived with Carno back in the day, and has a voice like the Emperor from Star Wars . He interestingly gives one of the best performances, and I found myself really trying to listen to what he had to say through his frail, frightened voice. Adrienne is portrayed well by Morsell and makes for a suitable heroine. She is not the ditzy “lock the front door and run upstairs when the killer is in the house” kind of woman, and the mystery writer profession is presumably a license to be inquisitive and clever. She spends an excessive amount of time preening in various mirrors while unobservantly missing paranormal activities behind her, but otherwise, I suppose the nicest thing that can be said is that you don’t want her to die.
I can’t say the same for the other major characters. There’s a silly bag lady and her oafish son who feature into the plot, who elicit more eyebrow-raising than laughs. I suppose they are meant to be the comic relief, but with a story that lacks tension, they come off as simply silly and overly hammy. Your husband is portrayed well, even as the demons take him over and he starts to become more crass and violent. Unfortunately, his final stage is a real groaner. It’s not a fault of the actor, it’s a fault of the direction he was given to “be a total madman.” He runs around, cackling with evil glee, like a psychotic child trying to get Mommy’s attention. Carno (Robert Miano), who you will see in the expected visions of the past, does a much better job at being methodical, reserved of word, and scary.
Much of Phantasmagoria’s reputation comes from its sex scenes. There are two, and they played it mostly safe here. The first is of the suggestive humping variety, but no actual nudity is shown. This is meant to contrast the second, the game’s notorious scene where we see how Adrienne’s husband has gone from a gentle lover to a possessed jerkwad. It’s certainly uncomfortable as he paws at a disinterested Adrienne who finally gives in, only to see the demons take over and get rough. That’s it for the sex, and I’m sure Sierra felt that anything more for a game in 1995 would be pushing too much, too soon.
The deaths are a different story, probably more graphic and imaginative that you have heard or would expect. They are certainly above a typical mainstream Jason/Freddy picture – no one just gets stabbed in the chest with a knife. I don’t want to give these away any more than that, as they are pretty much the most fun of the show, but not for the squeamish. Part of what makes them so gory, I think, is that they’re almost always brightly lit, while film usually puts such results in shadow. This is offset by keeping them to movie sequences. You can never click on a corpse and view a close-up still, like a typical adventure item, or allow the gory scene to be up on your screen for more than a second. A password-locked censorship option exists, but the game’s themes hardly make this a game for the kids anyway.
I was originally disappointed with the speed at which I was blazing through the discs. Indeed, the crucial plot-elements of a chapter will only take about thirty minutes per disc to drive through. However, this is still a Sierra adventure, and exploration is rewarded. Instead of points, you will usually find extra backstory, or visions and corpses tucked in out-of-the-way areas. If you get particularly stuck on what to do next, an in-game hint system exists in the form of a talking skull on your interface bar. Clicking the skull will give a direct clue (i.e. “Someone waits inside the house”) without apparent penalty. The skull will not lead you to these extra scenes, however, and it’s almost worth going through every room in each chapter to avoid missing anything. It at least helps to color the motives and emotional state of Adrienne, if you assume these are all scenes you’re “meant” to have seen by the end. In most cases, it will be quite obvious when something in a room has changed, or when a new discovery is available, so it’s worth popping your head in the door as you pass by.
The game is quite simple for novice players in ways beyond the hint system. You can only hold eight items at a time, and the game is designed so that you will not need or gain another until you use one you already have. These items will never be used on each other inside your inventory. In most cases, their use is obvious, like applying a key to a locked door. In less-obvious cases, you can simply “pull” the item from your inventory and move it over the item in the world – if you can use it, the cursor will turn red. The same extends to exploring the house, as a red cursor indicates something you can investigate further.
The game is also completely linear, you won’t “miss” an item you’ll need in a later disc, you can update your save at any point, and you cannot die. The exception is the last chapter where you can frequently die, but this is all contained in the last disc with no need to swap back to a previous one. When you die in these sections, you can also restart from the beginning of the final scene, or review the previous choices you made to try a new sequence of actions.
This game, according to Sierra’s own marketing, cost four million dollars to make. To get that kind of money as a game designer, you’d have to be sleeping with the CEO of the company! [drum fill] I suppose the real question is if this shows with the final product, and if all that money spent translates in some meaningful way to the player. I was impressed with the graphics, and the skillful marriage between a pre-rendered background and a full-video actor. 7th Guest toyed with the idea, but to sustain it through an entire game, and sustain it believably, is no small accomplishment. I was legitimately surprised, I’ll even bump that up to “shocked,” at the level of gore and graphic violence they were able to get away with for the time. I suppose this was possible by billing it as an “interactive movie” and not a “game” in the Mario sense. It’s also not over-the-top or pathetically inappropriate. It is, however, surprisingly rank stuff for a videogame.
But I was incredibly disappointed with the familiar plot, and lack of real story innovation outside of the macabre carnival-kills. The game does a fair job of pacing out its story and holding its cards, but there’s also a lot of building up to nothing. The haunted house/possessed lover line been done before, and better, in previous films and some games. It also makes little use of the interactive medium to bring the horror to a personal level or have you make decisions. Instead, you simply guide the protagonist around and observe the results. It’s an impressive technical achievement, and a decent try at an “interactive movie,” but certainly your avatar on the screen is more scared than you will be.
Impressive work with video and digital backgrounds. Certainly has no qualms about pushing boundaries and being an “adult” game.
Story is not quite as impressive or mature. Certainly a lot of violence and a lot of backstory, but not a lot of originality, and not even a campy level of horror.
3 thoughts on “ Phantasmagoria ”
This was a great adventure game. Many critics did not realize that Phantasmagoria was responsible for the creation of a new ingredient in the genre: the boost of reality, allowing the player play the role of a REAL character with REAL videos. Its was the start of a new dimension the Graphic Adventures, not always well accepted by the critics, unfortunately.
In my personal opinion, Phantasmagoria achieved its purposes: it delivered a dark and sinister story, presented a great atmosphere, showed fair actings and, above all, it game me a lot of fun and pleasure playing it. I KNOW that it was too easy, that I finished it in a couple of hours (about 4), but Phantas still is a GREAT game to play. It will be remembered for eternity as the “father” of the FMV adventure games!
You wouldn’t consider The 7th Guest to be the father of FMV games? Or Myst to some degree? Both of those games, along with Phantasmagoria, had computer rendered worlds with live videos of actors, except both were out years before Phantas.
I think I get what you mean though – both of those were puzzle games, while Phantas applies that technology to a standard Sierra adventure – and I gave it credit for that in the review. High marks for technology, no question, but I still thought the story was weak 😛
But then, I thought Phantas 2 was mostly great (except the last chapters), and not many seem to share that opinion.
I agree with Paulo Teixeira. And i played this game in my early teen years lol That means i felt in love with beautiful Victoria. ( :$ ). This was my first fmv game that i played as far as i remember, and i even kept a written progress of the story. I didn’t thought back then the story was weak too. The opening sequence and music was amazing for my pc’s inexperience at least (i only had a pc for a year or about two years).
I don’t know if i would like the game in the same manner now after all this years, but i remember this game as amazing experience at the start of my teenage years lol Now you can make fun of me: i give it 4,5 stars. I don’t give it 5 because i didn’t play this game that much later on (maybe because i didn’t want to ruin the first experience of the game, i think).
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