I bought Tombs & Treasure and was quite excited. Why, you ask? Well, as a kid one of my favorite trips was the one my family took to the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. This game just so happens to take place in one of the sites I visited, Chichen Itza. The Chichen Itza on my trip, though, was a bit different than the Chichen Itza in the game.
How was it different, you ask? Well, it all comes down to the monster issue really. I don't seem to recall ever seeing any. Sure, there were plenty of iguanas, but I don't recall ever confronting any demons. But then again, fighting demons and gods from Mayan mythology is a bit more interesting.
Actually, this game is quite interesting in itself. You don't need to have visited Chichen Itza in order to enjoy it for what it is - a genuinely fun game. In fact, Tombs & Treasure is quite unique. The only thing I can think to compare it to is Kemco/Seika games like Shadowgate and Déjà Vu. It has the same "look," "use," and "take"-type elements, and items must often be combined in some sort of innovative way in order to advance in the game. It's these puzzles that make the game such an overall pleasure.
One thing this game does have that the aforementioned do not, however, is actual RPG-style fights. In the course of the game, you'll confront several demons and monsters that require a certain amount of strength (gained from experience) to defeat. Unfortunately, you may not confront the enemies in the necessary order, resulting in inescapable doom. However, you shouldn't have any problem defeating the enemies once you've managed the proper order.
Another difference from the other games is the change in perspectives when moving from ruin to ruin. In addition to the Kemco/Seikaesque first-person perspective you get for most of the game, you'll get an overhead view of your party when it moves to another site.
Playing Tombs & Treasure made me want to head back to Chichen Itza. It makes me feel like I missed a good bit like the secret passages in the pyramid, the observatory, and the ball court. (How could I have missed them?!) And the monsters . . . I'm sure they're really there. But if they're not, I won't be disappointed. I can always pick a fight with an iguana.
Graphics: Nothing spectacular, but the ruins look like I remember them. A nice job overall.
Sound: Pretty average.
Enjoyment: This game is a lot of fun, especially if you've visited Chichen Itza.
Replay Value: Once you've figured out all of the puzzles, it's kind of pointless to go through the motions again.
The only game Infocom published on the console system, Tombs and Treasure is a lackluster adventure/RPG game set in the ancient ruins of Central America. Although the game looks like a typical console-style RPG when you are walking on the world map (i.e. top-down view, looking at your party as small anime characters), it switches to a traditional first-person perspective when you enter a new location on the map. The controls are simple: a row of icons represent common verbs (TAKE, LOOK, and so on), and all the objects you can interact with are highlighted by name - no more pixel-hunting here. One annoying quirk is that the game doesn't tell you which exits are available from the location, so you'll just have to click on all the directions (N, S, E, W, up, and down) from each location to see what the possible exits are.
The NES console isn't well known for solid adventure games, and unfortunately this title (developed by Nihon Falcom of Lord Monarch fame) is no exception. Even if we ignore the fact that this was released by the master of storytelling, Tombs and Treasure is a disappointing game. The plot is cliché (explore the ruins to find the missing professor), the writing very banal (and nothing compared to the outstanding prose of Infocom's all-text adventures), and the puzzles typical and uninteresting. Infocom fans may want to try this one out anyway for curiosity's sake, and the game's easy level and decent graphics might appeal to young children as a way to introduce them to the genre. The rest of us should stay clear of this game, and feel thankful that Infocom's experimental foray into non-PC systems only lasted this one game.
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Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, Ultimerr, Transylvania, Trials of Odysseus Kent, The, TimeScape: Journey to Pompeii, Star Trek: The Rebel Universe, Treasure Island, Trick or Treat
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