Multimedia Exploration Journal: August 10, 2003

My favorite used software shop had a selection of more well-known games that all had predictable multimedia. Additionally, I found some interesting grab-bags of kid-oriented CD-ROM game software at local garage sales.

As a bonus, I am beginning to check if any of these work in the popular Wine project. With a little work, I should be able to compile an impressive compatibility list for obscure game and multimedia software titles.

Phantasmagoria (MobyGames entry)

This is the controversial title from Sierra that comes on 7 CD-ROMs. Mostly VMD files (Sierra Video and Music Data).

Followup: The VMD multimedia system has been reverse engineered. See the multimedia formats page for more information.

[Link: Sierra VMD samples]

The Dig (MobyGames entry)

LucasArts title from 1995. Predictably, it has a video directory with 60+ Smush Animation (SAN) files. Ostensibly, the game is playable under Linux with the ScummVM project (The Dig is listed with a 85% compatibility rating as of this writing).

[Link: LucasArts SAN samples]

Descent II: Destination Quartzon 3D

Interplay MVE files; no big surprise there. But that's good because I like Interplay MVE files, at least as far as game-related multimedia files go. The MVE files are encapsulated in MVL resource headers.

[Link: Interplay MVE samples]

Zork: Grand Inquisitor (MobyGames entry)

Just like the last Zork game I investigated, this one uses Duck Truemotion v1 AVI files. This 2 CD-ROM game has hundreds of these files. The back of the CD-ROM jewel case has a Truemotion logo. It also has logos for "QSound" and "SOUNDELUX". I have no idea what either of those technologies refer to.

I tried to run the game in Wine and got as far as the installation screen. The installation insisted that DirectX 5 was not installed and could not seem to install it. Then I had a kill Wine with a 9.

[Link: AVI samples compressed with DUCK]

Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego? (MobyGames entry)

This is another in the series of ubiquitous educational games from Broderbund. There really does not appear to be any multimedia on the disc save for an audio.dat file.

The installation under Wine fails with an error dialog entitled, "Microsoft Test Driver (ds) Error" and reports, "Bindtime error: Cannot load library: 'SHELL.DLL'".

Aesop's Fable: The Tortoise and the Hare

This is a 1993 CD-ROM from Living Books, a Random House/Broderbund company. The disc has 6 CD audio tracks. The data portion of the disc contains a tortoise/ subdirectory and a demos directory with sample for 3 more of these storybooks.

The data portion of each consists of a series of *.ibm files. The data files are organized in a manner that suggests they contain audio, video, and text for the various stories.

Installation under Wine fails with the error "Cannot establish DDE link to DDE Server".

Ozzie's Day At The Beach

1996 kids' title by Digital Impact, Inc. There is some organization occupying but it sure doesn't look like the type of company to make kids' software.

Multimedia appears to consist of a series of DXR file. Running through Wine appears to work all right until it encounters an unhandled exception.

Putt-Putt Goes To The Moon (MobyGames entry)

Kid-oriented CD-ROM by Humongous Entertainment. The game has a lot of colorful animation and peppy music. If I were to guess, I would say it uses sprite animation, MIDI audio, and digital voice.
Followup: Several readers have reported that Humongous Entertainment was started by a group from LucasArts. As such, their games are based on the SCUMM engine.

Works splendidly through Wine, though it is rather difficult to quit the game gracefully.

Ace Ventura: The CD-ROM Game (MobyGames entry)

Copyright 1996 by 7th Level Software. No multimedia to speak of save for a few AVI files related to a demo for a game called Tracer. Indeed, the disc seems to consist primarily of demos for other software titles. In fact, the filenames in the ACE/ directory seem to imply that the primary title is also a demo ("ACE_DEMO.EXE").

I tried to run the demos, any demo, in Wine with no success. All the demos seemed to crash at the same memory location, almost as if they were based on the same engine or startup code.

by Mike Melanson (mike at

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