1985, Activision/Interplay

Lemon64 - GB64 (disk) - GB64 (tape)

I have a vague recollection of this game which starts off in the traditional deserted-on-island theme. The game doesnt provide any real introduction to the story besides what you read on the cover. And its basically the whole plot of the game that you dont really know how you ended up on this island, or indeed who you are. A rather common soap opera story indeed. In the beginning you can choose to start the game, watch the tutorial or an advertisement for The Tracer Sanction, which is an adventure made using the same engine. The programmer Bill Heineman also programmed classics like Bards Tale III, Dragon Wars and Tass Times in Tone Town. His graphical adventure game engine is also a very good one.

The game has a good text parser and allows a lot of different combinations of text and shortcuts. Its very quick to get into and its a rare thing to find a tutorial in a game like this. I guess it is to help new players to the genre of text adventures, which is also greatly helped by the graphic depictions of every location. Yes there is alot of pictures here, over 70 of them! Quite unusual for an early graphic text adventure. On the disk version you can also see the objects you can pick up/drop. The tape version is divided into 4 separate parts that needs to be loaded one at a time although each part is fairly quick to load and it is more "responsive" simply because the game doesnt have to load each scene as the disk version does. Also, if you die on the tape version you start back at the beginning of the current part. Another good thing about this game is the save/load feature to save on tape/disk as well as the quicksave/load feature which saves the game state in memory. This is extremely useful since it removes the frustation of beginning all over again if you make a mistake. Like most adventure games, taking a wrong turn can lead to disaster although in some cases the adventurer is duly warned.

One interesting feature of the game is the THINK keyword which is possibly a new one I have seen and indeed necessary to complete the game. Since the main character is trying to recall what has happened and who he is, you regularly have to think about people and places to bring back memories. This works somewhat except that the information provided is somewhat sparse - probably because the graphics take a lot of memory (at least in the tape version).

The graphics are the classic vector drawings that are drawn and filled as the user watches. Although its drawn quite a bit faster than many other graphical adventure games of this time. Some scenes even have simple animation as well. The graphics work well to show each location, although the text descriptions are somewhat lacking. Moreover the locations miss any indication of which directions you can go. The only way to know is to try each direction - and was the only cause I got stuck at times as there are some rooms where I assumed I could not go in that direction only to discover it was possible. Moreover the game allow you to write commands like FORWARD, BACK, LEFT and RIGHT which is depending on the direction you are viewing the scene (which is always the same for each room). This is quite unusual for text adventures I think, naturally only possible because of the graphical display.

To conclude this review I can only say its a very simple adventure game to solve. There is a simple plot line to follow and most puzzles are fairly straight forward so you dont have to bang your head to the wall all the time to figure out what magical command to use (like many text adventures unfortunately does). The story and conclusion is a typical soap opera and the ending is a sad text-only affair which is rather odd considering they spent a lot of time and effort to make 70 graphical images. Some kind of graphical cartoon-cell graphical/text ending would have been more appropriate. Also there are a lot of rooms that are just for passing through, and nothing to do, all with graphics! Especially the boat has a great many screens where you can walk about the ship. I guess it adds some feeling of exploration, but I feel its somewhat wasted in an otherwise fine adventure. Still, its worth playing, especially if you want a soft start on text adventures.

All images and text are Copyrighted by John Christian Lønningdal 2007-2015 unless indicated.
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