Back when I was a kid, my family had a computer that ran Windows 3.x. I was quite familiar with how to use the DOS prompt, and played most of my computer games through that. A lot of games I played came on floppy disks that were actually floppy.
The cover is a bit of misdirection: you don’t rescue Hugo from the house, you rescue his girlfriend, Penelope.
One game in particular was Hugo’s House of Horrors. It was an adventure/puzzle game, and all of the commands were done via typed commands. For instance, if you wanted Hugo to walk to a door, you typed in “walk to door”. If you wanted to pick up an item, you typed, “pick up [item]”. That’s how gameplay went.
The story for the game was simple: Hugo’s girlfriend Penelope had gone to babysit at a rather creepy old house, and Hugo hadn’t heard from her for a considerable while. So Hugo goes to check on her, and finds that she’s been taken captive by a mad scientist. You have to negotiate a series of puzzles, collect and use items along the way, in order to rescue her.
The graphics were the simplistic kind you’d expect from an early DOS game. The command interface was equally simple, as I described above. The puzzles were rather challenging, and required clever use of items collected along the way.
Of course the game feels ancient by today’s gaming standards, but that’s to be expected. It’s a rather short game, but, as I said before, the puzzles are challenging enough. I’m sure the game is still available somewhere out there on the Internet, and if you feel like a bit of gaming nostalgia, it’s a fun game to play.
The game spawned a couple of sequels, continuing the story of Hugo and Penelope. The second game, Hugo II: Whodunit was a murder mystery in which you played as Penelope, while the third game, Hugo III: Jungle of Doom had the characters escaping from a jungle after the small plane they were on crashes. I don’t think I ever actually beat the second game, but I easily beat the first and third.
Apparently there was a fourth and final Hugo game released in 1994, called Nitemare 3-D, and was essentially a Wolfenstein clone. In that game, Penelope is taken prisoner in the haunted mansion again, and Hugo goes in to rescue her, armed with guns. I’ve never even seen that game, to be honest.
So, there you have it, this time a game that I really and honestly think I’m the only one who remembers.
A final note: some years back, there was a rather interactive webcomic called “Problem Sleuth”. It presented a series of images, and invited readers to provide suggestions for what the main characters should do in order to proceed. The visual style of that comic, mixed with the command line at the bottom of each panel, reminds me a lot of these games. Just thought I’d throw that tidbit out there.