Developed by: LucasArts
Genre: Point and Click Adventure
Original release date: 1990-ish
SoS mission date: 4 August 2006
Where to get it: Good luck! eBay is probably your best bet to find an original copy. Fortunately, even old copies will work on ScummVM, which Papapishu mentions in his briefing below. See the ScummVM pages for further information on getting LOOM and the other LucasArts adventures to run on modern systems.
Original Briefing by Papapishu (04/08/06)
Ah, LOOM. One of the oft-forgotten stepchildren of the Lucasarts adventure games.
LOOM was made by Lucasarts in 1990, and created by Brian Moriarty (of Wishbringer and Trinity fame). It takes place in a fantasy world populated by a number of great "guilds". It was originally planned as the first part of a trilogy: LOOM, FORGE and The Fold, but the other projects fell through. Much of the game features music from "Swan Lake".
Your character Bobbin is a weaver: a kind of musical magician that uses a "distaff" to alter or enchant objects (sound familiar Beige?). The game mechanics are a distinct departure from many adventure games: You have no items and you cannot perform simple actions like "Pick up" or "Talk to". The only actions you can perform are walking, looking at things, and casting spells on things by inputting "Drafts", 4-note spells that you 'Play' on your distaff. The simplicity of the game coupled with it's short length (About as short as, if not shorter than, Full Throttle), mean that this is the first teensy-weensie bite-sized Pile of Shame. We should be able to finish it in a week.
It should be noted that the only difference between the "Normal" and the "Expert" mode is that expert removes the note letters (C, D , E ) from below the distaff, meaning that you have to play the game more by ear. This is more of an inconvenience than a real obstacle, so it shouldn't affect your playtime too dramatically.
Three versions of the game were put out: the original floppy disk version in 1990, the Graphically Advanced but unchanged version for the FM Towns (an obscure, defunct Japanese console), and the CD version in 1992 which included Voice. The original floppy version has poor graphics, however the CD version not only cut out a large portion of the script, but it turns out it also removed some alternate solutions to puzzles as well. The FM Towns version is the happy medium between the two, and the ones that hardcore fans seem to gravitate towards. It's unfortunate that it's almost impossible to get legally these days.
Frankly, just play whatever copy you can get your hands on. The game is a tad rare, and all the versions are pretty damned good.
In order to play the game, you will need to download out ScummVM, a handy emulator that allows you to play any version of a Lucasarts adventure game on practically anything (PC, Linux, Mac, Dreamcast, PalmOS, PSP, DS, Laberdoodle) with improved graphics, scaled resolution, and any version of sound you want.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, break out a pencil and a notepad. These things will be your best friends throughout the short duration of the game. Write down every sequence of notes you can, remember what they do, and store them away for further use. This will make the game go along smoothly.
If you have any more questions, simply go ahead and…
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Squad Archivist Report
Loom is one of LucasArts’ earliest titles, yet arguably it is one of the most interesting and “artistic” amongst them. Weighing in at a little under 3 hours, this is very much a game that can be played through in a single session if you put your mind to it... yet it’s no worse for this. In fact, the tale that LOOM tells is compelling, intriguing and just the right length - at no point does Bobbin’s odyssey seem artificially drawn-out for the sake of inflating “play time” or perceived “value for money”.
The game was pretty universally appreciated by all who played it. Feenwager noted that “those artists got a lot of mileage out of 256 colors and VGA resolution. Art direction, baby, that’s what it’s all about.” Tehfizr appreciated the “simple and quirky puzzle aspect of the game” while Papapishu ruminated on the fun factor of the game, saying “like all Lucasarts games, any Pixar film, and games like Alien Hominid, you are overcome by an ineffible sense of joy. Playing this game you know that the people who made it had an absolute ball. It's written into the very fiber of the game, and rears its head in its sense of irony. Lines like "You can't say he wasn't warned" or "Preference Noted" just put a big sloppy grin on my face, and that's rare for my jaded twenty-something ass.”
There are also other things that LOOM does wonderfully. For starters, the CD version, while sacrificing a lot of the game’s dialogue along with some alternative solutions to puzzles due to storage constraints, contains voice acting that’s considerably better than most of the appalling nonsense we hear these days. As Feen mentions, too, the art direction is second to none. Papapishu pointed out the game’s unique use of colour to contrast the different areas, and the fact that “every area feels right”.
Then Beige brought up one of his favourite subjects - that of an “enchanter” game, where you play a proper wizard, rather than a fireball-hurling tank that might as well be a space marine:
“There was more creativity in half an hour of goddamn LOOM than there was in the entirity of most of the games I've played in the last 2 years. When I said *enchanter game* a while back, THIS is the kind of shit I'm talking about. Throwing fireballs with my BFG/BFWand doesn't make you feel like a wizard - it makes you feel a stupid anachronism. Untwisting staircases with the wave of a hand? That's the shit I'm talking about. Dying a whole field of sheep green with exactly the same ease as you'd use to butter your bread in the morning? Wizardry. Oh, not to mention the sort of laissez-faire attitude towards turning straw into gold or bringing people back from the fucking dead. Now that I think about it, I'm sure playing LOOM back in high school influenced my idea for that enchanter game. Putting your ear to a waterfall to hear the whispered song of water... OPENing the sky with the same technique used to open a box. THAT's what I want to see. That's what I want to PLAY. Throw a Wii interface in there to simulate some wand-waving and add next-gen graphics... why is this not happening right now ???? Where has the creativity and charm gone from modern game design?”
It’s a fair point. LOOM represents some of the very best of gaming from the past - creative, beautiful and completely and utterly memorable. While the game is short, this isn’t a bad thing in the slightest. Rather, the whole 2-3 hours you’ll spend in the company of Bobbin Threadbare is an experience that all self-respecting gamers would do well to educate themselves on in these days of endless space marine drudgery.