One of the best qualities of good computer games is their ability to transport us to another place, much like a well-made film can carry ink other dimension or other people's lives. The difference between games and films is that in a game you are not merely an observer, but play the leading role. In reaction ... Captain Blood is a prime example of how this can be achieved. In this case whisking you off to a galaxy inhabited by many races of intelligent (and not so intelligent) aliens which for a change are more than Just victims of mad aggression and your frenzied laser-fire.
For once the background scenario to the game makes for some very entertaining and useful reading. Bob Morlok, failed games programmer, had had enough of his uninspired poverty-stricken days out of work. Pulling himself together he set to work on what would be an intensive six month project, hurridly tapping out the code for his new creation. Entering the final instruction he sat back and sighed (has this man never heard of debugging?) before Running the list for the first time.
This is where things start to get weird. Bob Morlok (or Blood to his fans) was instantly zapped into his own game! Finding himself in an enormous space cruiser under fierce attack from hundreds of fighters, Blood Jumped into hyperspace to avoid the aggressors. A bug in the hyperspace routine caused a nasty side effect, cloning Blood thirty times, starving him of his vital life-fluids. With the help of his on-board computer, Blood tracked down all but five of the clones, but that was not enough. The rest must be found and this is where you come in, taking control of a weakened Blood in a race against time to track down those remaining five.
Since the accident, Blood has become more and more artificial after numerous robotic-implant operations performed by the computer in order to keep him alive. This is evident in his arm which has now taken on a semi-bionic look. You begin in orbit around one of the few inhabited planets of the galaxy. Your ship is far too big to land on its surface, so you send down a genetically enhanced alien known as an oorxx.
The flight is controlled via the control panel. In effect, you are the oorxx in the landing sequence. The mountains of the planet surface are seen as 3D vector-like images, giving a good effect of movement. Using the indicating cursor you soon reach the trench, at the end of which you find your first alien. In all there are thirteen different races, each with its own distinct character and intelligence level, and all are drawn and animated superbly.
As there are well over 30,000 planets in the galaxy and only a very small number of those are life-supporting, tracking down the clones is not easy. The way to do it is to talk to the aliens and try to get as much information on other inhabited planets as possible. Each alien talks in a different language, so an interpreter is needed. This comes in the form of UPCOM, an interface which translates words and expressions of any language into icons. When an alien speaks to you, icons pop up on the UPCOM where they can be read as English, French or German words by running Blood's finger across them. Each alien has its own set of sounds that accompany the icons, adding a lot of the realism. Speaking back is a reverse procedure (choose you words from a scrolling bar of icons and send them back to him).
Some creatures ask for help in battles against their enemies (go and blow up the planet of the nasty Croolis-var, please), others are just lonely and need a friend. Help them and they will help you (usually). A pen and paper are essential to Jot down all the co-ordinates and information you squeeze out of the aliens. Without co-ordinates of significant planets you could be drifting through space for the rest of your short lives.
Jean Michel Jarre has supplied the loading music, and although the sample is a little unclear, the originality and atmosphere of the piece suit the game perfectly. All the sound effects in the game are equally impressive, such as the speech confirming operations from the control panel and the characteristic voices of the aliens. Complementing these are some superb graphics, the amazingly psychedelic colour cycling on the hyperspace and planet destruction sequences are brilliant.
Captain Blood is not an easy game to get into. Attempting to understand it without properly reading the background and instructions is impossible. You have to be prepared to sit down with it and not get anywhere for a while to make any progress. I originally played it on an ST a few months ago, then on the C64 and now it has appeared on the Amiga I am still only Just getting the hang of it! Something I found can help after the course of a conversation that is getting nowhere, is to talk a bit of gibberish, just select some icons at random and see what response you get. That is about the only help I can give you, apart from advising all sci-fi fans and adventurers alike to hunt down a copy as soon as possible. Captain Blood is something very special indeed - an achievement of quite extraordinary imagination and challenge. It will appeal to any intelligent gameplayer. No wonder Epyx are involved in a merger - taking over - with Infogrammes Captain Blood alone should make the deal worthwhile.
A nice strategy-adventure game, which was released on many platforms. You have to travel in space, visit galaxies and planets, make contact with other species. Interesting game, not an ordinary gameplay. Check the name of the music artist of the game on the title screen. Yes, he's Jean-Michel Jarre...
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