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Strategy Guides

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This information ceased to be updated as at 1/1/98.

Players of Phantasmagoria are fortunate that two highly informative guides to this outstanding game have been published - one by Sierra On-Line and the other by Infotainment World. Both have positive and negative features and both unintentionally supplement their rival. The well read gamer is strongly advised to obtain both of these books as they provide far more than mere walkthroughs. Contained within each work are invaluable insights into the minds of the people behind Phantasmagoria and the technologies used to create this stunning interactive experience.


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Phantasmagoria: The Official Sierra Insider's Guide
Phantasmagoria: Official Player's Guide

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* Phantasmagoria: The Official Sierra Insider's Guide *


[Official Sierra Insider's Guide book front cover] [Official Sierra Insider's Guide book back cover]


Bibliographical Details: Shannon, Lorelei. Phantasmagoria: The Official Sierra Insider's Guide. Oakhurst, CA : Sierra On-Line, 1995. ISBN: 0-87177-250-7. Softcover. 188 pages. Full colour. Printed on glossy, high quality paper. $14.95 US.

Internet Availability: Collectors item only. Now officially out of print, although some existing owners of this publication may be willing to sell their copies second-hand. Sorry, but my own copy is not available at any price.

About the Author: Lorelei Shannon, a Sierra employee, was the co-designer for King's Quest 7 with Roberta Williams in 1993 and 1994. More significantly, she is the designer of Phantasmagoria 2. She writes with a light-hearted style filled with exuberance, though the rigid structure of this book as evidenced in the step-by-step nature of the walkthrough and the standardised interview questions for the actors show Lorelei has a highly disciplined mind.

Content Analysis:

Introduction: pp. 1-3
A fictitious entry into the mind of Roberta Williams.

The Mind Behind the Madness: pp. 4-15
In this extensive interview with the Phantasmagoria designer, many topics are discussed. Roberta Williams explains how she overcame her childhood fear of horror to actually admire the genre and create one of the world's scariest computer games. She wanted to do a horror adventure for many years but held off until the technology improved so real actors could be used - the point being that, unless the players can easily relate to and therefore feel for their realistic on screen character, they will not be scared and the horror environment will thus fail to work as planned. Some behind the scenes special effects are mentioned by Roberta and various uncaptioned pictures from the blue screen filming process are scattered throughout the interview text.

Game Strategy: pp. 16-95
This is the largest division of the book and is divided into several subsections. Following a two page overview on game strategy for novice players, it provides chapter by chapter hints in reply to questions posed by the author. Each question is usually accompanied by three or four answers, each more specific than its predecessor. The final answer to each question is printed upside down so that the game might not be spoilt too easily. A "Must-Do' Click Thru" comes next and details only those moves absolutely essential for completing the game successfully. This subsection also explains the opening and closing movies for each chapter. The final part of the walkthrough briefly describes most of Phantasmagoria's "optional extras" - actions not essential for game completion but which add enormously to the overall feel of the game such as the use of the fortune telling machine and the witnessing of ghostly phenomena. Every subsection mentioned so far includes a variety of uncaptioned screenshots from the game. Concluding "Game Strategy" is a list of objects and their usage followed by maps of the Carnovasch Estate Island, Nipawomsett, and all four floors of the mansion.

Art and Music of Phantasmagoria: pp. 96-111
Here, art director and co-story designer Andy Hoyos is interviewed and remarks on his inspirations for many of the visual effects of Phantasmagoria. These include the movies: Batman, Alien, and Hellraiser. It turns out that he was the person who came up with most of the horrifying but theatrical murders that feature quite prominently in the game and the torture machines that accompany them. Pictures of the neck-snapping machine in the game and from production sketches may be seen. Two of the computer artists responsible for modelling and rendering the 3-D environment of Phantasmagoria are interviewed next alongside some examples of their work in progress. Finally, the composers of the game's outstanding musical scores are asked for their thoughts on what they have accomplished and how they managed to enhance the mood of every moment of Phantasmagoria so effectively.

The Production of Phantasmagoria: pp. 112-151
Almost everyone who has not yet been mentioned is interviewed or at least pictured in this catch-all division of the Guide. Here, you will find interviews of varying lengths with: Peter Maris (director); Bill Crow (Sierra Studios Manager); Rick Lazzarini (senior special effects artist); Dave Macmillan (animal handler); Victoria Morsell, David Homb, Robert Miano, V. Joy Lee, and Steven Bailey (the main actors); Mark Hood (programmer); Mark Hood (this time in his role as a project manager) and Mark Seibert (another project manager and the main music composer). As always, uncaptioned pictures accompany every interview. These are always relevant to the current area of discussion and come from both real life and the game. Some of the more interesting photos are those of the main actors in their normal hairstyles, close ups of the animal actors, and "family snaps" of large numbers of the production team transposed onto different game backgrounds.

Selected Excerpts from the Diary of Zoltan Carnovasch: pp. 152-177
For players of Phantasmagoria who want to know more about the life and thoughts of the enigmatic magician, these are the documents you have been waiting to see. They cover the changeover period of the late 1880s from Carno the sane, untroubled loving husband and father to Carno the deeply disturbed victim of demonic possession. Authenticity is simulated by the gradual deterioration of Carno's calligraphy as he descends further and further into madness.

Credits: pp. 178-182
A list of game credits similar to those found in the small booklet that comes with Phantasmagoria.

Notes: pp. 183-188
Lined pages resembling notepaper.


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Page 7
The "1960s" horror movie, Horrors of the Black Museum, that scared designer Roberta Williams as a child was in fact made in 1959.

Page 51
Spelling mistake: "mesmarized" should be spelt "mesmerized".

Page 75
After throwing drain cleaner in Don's face, Adrienne may grab the spellbook immediately if the player is quick enough. This is advisable only if she already holds the snowman Christmas ornament and the ingredients necessary for the banishment ritual as Don will capture her after she makes this move.

Page 79
Opportunities for conversation with Don in chapter one exist in places other than the darkroom. Three significant scenes not mentioned include Don lying down in the bedroom reading a book, Adrienne knocking on the closed bathroom door while it is occupied by her husband, and an intensely romantic scene where the couple meet in the kitchen by chance. Also, no mention of any of the Easter Eggs is made.

Page 80
The old magazine lying on the library table is also significant in that, through the reading of one of its articles, Adrienne utters the name of the cd-rom game. This is the only internal mention of the term "phantasmagoria".

Page 82
You cannot witness a vision of Carno murdering his wife Regina in chapter four, this may only occur in chapter five.

Page 89
The nail is missing from the Object List. It may be found in the hayloft of the carriage house and its usage is to dislodge the third floor stairwell door's key from the keyhole.

Page 90
The map of the Carnovasch Estate Island printed on this page shows that it is actually possible to reach the greenhouse without having to cross the washed out trail which is the only path provided in the game!

Pages 132-134
Actor David Homb who plays Don comments that Phantasmagoria has several pathways, that he acted out different responses to the same situations, and the player has the opportunity to kill his character in many ways in the game. This is totally untrue of the final version. Was the game originally planned quite differently compared with what was eventually released?

Pages 145-146
An additional cd swap is required to hear Malcolm's story in chapter six.

Page 152
Spelling mistake: Carno's first name as spelt in the game is "Zoltan", not "Zolton".

Pages 157-176
All dates should be increased by one year.

Page 179
Spelling mistake: the word that heads the sub-section of credits at the bottom of the left column should read "Production" rather than "Prodlouction". Also, who played: the realtor, the flip card MC, and the voice of the Hintkeeper?


Positive Features
  • Produced in full colour on high quality, glossy paper.
  • Players are not forced to read more hints than they need.
  • A large number of people responsible for the game are interviewed.
  • Informative and entertaining "Diary of Zoltan Carnovasch".


Negative Features
  • Pictures, illustrations, etc. are not captioned.
  • Various spelling mistakes.
  • Many of the interview questions are repetitive.
  • Purposeless "Notes" section.


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* Phantasmagoria: Official Player's Guide *


[Official Player's Guide book cover]


Bibliographical Details: Ceccola, Russ. Phantasmagoria: Official Player's Guide. San Mateo, CA : Infotainment World, 1995. ISBN: 1-57280-034-8. Softcover. 204 pages. Black and white. Printed on average quality, non-glossy paper. $19.95 US. Non-English translations were printed.

Internet Availability: Order this book by faxing its bibliographic information, your mailing address, and your credit card details to Computercollectief based in Amsterdam, Netherlands (fax: +31 20 622 6668). That is how I obtained my copy in May of 1996. Hurry - they only have a few copies left! An alternative is to go to Amazon.com and do a search using the keyword "phantasmagoria". This book should be listed in the results. Unfortunately though, it seems as if this publication is currently "out of stock indefinitely", although not yet officially "out of print".

About the Author: Russ Ceccola is a freelance writer who has an enthusiastic interest in horror. Roberta Williams claims to have been partially inspired by her acquaintance with Russ to design Phantasmagoria. He writes with a descriptive, conversational style. Russ has a strong sense of humour revealed in the titles of the sections of his book, in many of the captions for the sketches and photographs, and by his description of himself on the "About the Author" page.

Content Analysis:

Foreword, Acknowledgements and Introduction: pp. vi-x
Roberta Williams wrote the Foreword in which she states that she is, "...very proud of Phantasmagoria. It has been the biggest challenge of my life...". Russ Ceccola is apparently very thankful for the assistance a lot of people in the preparation of this work. In the Introduction, Phantasmagoria is placed in context with the entire horror genre of fictional expression.

Part I: Body Count - pp. 2-8
Every adventure game strategy guide should come with a brief description of the characters involved in the story like this one does. Everyone, even Spazz the cat, is mentioned, pictured, and has a short paragraph written about them so that the players have some foreknowledge of what to expect from the people and other beings they will encounter. The Main Characters section of this Review serves a similar purpose, though it is much more specialised, focusing only on the four central characters absolutely essential to the plot.

Part II: The Fall of the House of Carnovasch - pp. 9-116
Not surprisingly, the longest section of this work is also devoted to a comprehensive walkthrough for Phantasmagoria. Russ Ceccola takes an entirely different approach to Lorelei Shannon and incorporates everything he wants to say in one huge essay that takes players by the hand and allows them to experience almost every incident the game has to offer. The walkthrough is divided according to the game chapters and is profusely illustrated with black and white screenshots. For a welcome change, each screenshot is captioned with a number to which the reader is directed from the main text. At the end of the walkthrough for each chapter is a brief checklist of actions you absolutely must take if you want to complete the game successfully. Unfortunately for players who do not like their adventures to be spoilt by not being allowed to think for themselves, nothing at all is concealed and no specific hint for a current query is readily obvious without reading more than one might desire. Thus, if you only want subtle hints that do not give too much away, I would advise you to look instead to Lorelei's book or the game's internal Hintkeeper.

Part III: Tiptoe Through the Tombstones - pp. 117-123
Maps that are almost identical to those presented in the other guide to Phantasmagoria are shown here. The differences are that these are in black and white and are annotated with the names of the objects with which one may interact. Items able to be placed in the inventory are indicated in bold type owing to their particular importance to the gameplay.

Part IV: Toolshed - pp. 124-143
This section reveals Russ' practical nature. Here you will find pictures of almost every single inventory and non-inventory object encountered during Phantasmagoria along with a brief description of its location and use in furthering the storyline or the game's atmosphere. In a way, this section is like Part I, but it deals with objects rather than living beings.

Part V: Behind the Curtain - pp. 144-175
Following a brief, four page discussion that essentially covers the same territory as the "Art and Music" and "Production" sections of its rival with a few new facts thrown in, this visually informative behind-the-scenes chapter displays page after page of preproduction sketches, sections of the script, storyboards, and, even better, photographs of the actual blue screen studio filming process - most of which do not appear in any other publication. In the sketches section, readers may observe the different logos Sierra considered to use to promote Phantasmagoria, as well as detailed drawings of a light fixture situated at the top of the main staircase and a full body sketch of the demon. Where pages from the script are presented, they go well beyond being there for their own sake but are shown together with their associated sketches and storyboards from the scenes with which they are concerned. Lastly, twelve pages filled with captioned behind-the-scenes photos taken by the author and Bill Crow from Sierra Studios are reproduced for the Phantasmagoria fan's perusal. Topics include: how the motion of the lifts in the secret passages was simulated, why the dog at Malcolm's gate really began to bark, close ups of some of the gruesome and "deadly" props, and how some of the actors dubbed in their own voices. In all cases, the author provides humorous captions for the shots.

Part VI: Talking Heads - pp. 176-188
Rather than going for the widespread production crew and cast coverage of Lorelei Shannon's book, Russ Ceccola chose to concentrate upon the four people whose considerable talent is most responsible for making Phantasmagoria the masterpiece of multimedia that it is: Roberta Williams (designer and co-writer), Andy Hoyos (co-writer