FROM the people who made far too good a job of Katakis for it to have escaped the eagle eye of Activision's lawyers, comes a tale of derring do and adventure from around the globe.
A tale first scripted by Jules Verne of course, as the game is Around The World in 80 Days. The good news for Rainbow Arts and Interceptor, who is marketing it here, is that I doubt if anyone's lawyers will be raising an eyebrow in its direction. Mr Verne having popped his cloggs longer than 50 years ago.
It all starts in the Reform Club in London naturally with our Phileas Fogg boasting that he can traverse the world in 80 days, and that without a Young Persons railcard. And so the crusty nobs of the Reform Club force him to bet all he owns, amounting to a tidy £20.000 - which never mind buying you a cottage in Wales, would have bought you Wales itself in those days - to prove his claim.
On October 2 Mr Fogg and his faithful (that is to say, stupid) butler, Passepartout set off on the great adventure. First stop. Paris! One of the strange things about this game is the way you have to split yourself schizophrenically, between Fogg and Passepartout. Half the time you play the lackey, and the other half the loony Englishman.
Anyway, the game kicks off with a small dot travelling across a world map, a puffing train in the corner to indicate speed of travel, a moneybag to indicate finances, and an option to bribe or play cards. This is where Phil and his lackey spend half their time, as the game goes off to individual adventures as and when their locations are reached, before returning to the map once more.
The bribe option speeds up your rate of travel, depending on how much dosh you want to spend. What I found rather witless was the cards option in which you can resupply the campaign moneybag if you get lucky. The point is that you don't need to get very lucky at all because either Phileas cheats, or the dealer is a personal friend, because they come up in certain patterns. Recognise the patterns and you can make a lot of money quickly.
Anyway, the first adventure that our lads find themselves embroiled in has Passepartout running through India in search of? What? A takeaway? Dunno really. The bottom line is that this is arcade action time, with said butler trotting through the jungle and then a temple while people drop things on him, or throw spears, or he falls into pits. Fail to make the exit in time and the adventure is over.
It isn't too hard, and the graphics are quite decent, but the scrolling is a joke. We're talking routines rejected by Psygnosis here. Next stop is Japan and catching acrobats on your shoulders, which is difficult to say the least. Should you survive that, dodging wolves in America comes next with a quite silly section in which you must copy an Indian medicine man's dance if Fogg isn't to become an Indian eat-at-home. Still, an eccentric Englishman's lot is not an easy one. So, after an enjoyable sledge ride it's on to good old Blighty, just in time to get incarcerated in the dungeons of London. Can you escape in time? Do you care?
Although the graphics are quite good. Around the World In 80 Days is just a little repetitive, forcing you to play the same bland sub-games each time you fail. At times it seemed like I'd been playing for 80 days, and I hadn't even got further than the kitchen for a cuppa.
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