Alice: An Interactive Museum

Review by Orb

Okay, I'll admit it. Alice is my favorite of the Shono titles, which include L-Zone, Gadget, and Zeddas Servant of Sheol. It was also his first, and the one that most closely resembling a straight adventure game (Zeddas notwithstanding), but that isn't to says the designers don't add their own twist to it, which is the signature of all the Shono titles. It is also designed to be very different from the others, from an entirely unusual style of graphics to the fact that the game has little story and maximum puzzle-solving.

The game begins in a living room, which was modeled after the one in painter Kuniyoshi Kaneko's own house. From there you enter a museum and the world of Alice. There is very little story here, but there is very much a purpose to the game that you uncover as you explore, which is to find all of a deck of 53 cards and thus find your way out of the museum. The game is very much designed to have the feel of a modern-day Alice in Wonderland, which is one of the more unusual aspects to the game. It also offers myriad images signifying this relationship, not the least of which is the white rabbit and Alice herself. This is not to say that this is a child's game—it actually is not. There are a number of adult images here, some a bit suggestive, which really work well for the piece; it's just that I wouldn't hand it to a 10-year-old to play.

The style of graphics is one of the more unusual of any adventure game I've seen, and this is where the game becomes mesmerizing. It does not have the usual "look" of an adventure game. There are many paintings and objects to look at. These are drawn in a very stilted, stylized manner. The paintings, which cover the walls in each room, are odd and sometimes disturbing.

The music is, for the most part, MIDI-style synthesized Muzak, with a bit of classical piano thrown in for good measure. Despite the fact that this sounds unpleasant, it's not. There's just something about it that I love. This may be irrational on my part, but to me it just added flavor.

Finding the cards is tricky. They are cleverly hidden, although some are easier to find than others. The hiding of them seems to fall well in line with some of the more abstract aspects of Lewis Carroll's own Alice. There are twelve rooms to explore, divided into four sections, one each for the four suits in a deck of cards. Once found, some of the cards provide the player with clues to unlock the secret of Alice.

Alice, which was a big release at the time in Japan, once enjoyed a wide and devoted fan base in the adventure gaming community, but all of the sites seem to have fallen by the wayside.

One last heads up: this game is extremely rare and very hard to find for purchase. In fact, if you find it for sale anywhere, please email me—there is always someone on a quest to find it that you can help. Just like the truth, I know it's out there.

I loved Alice myself, just because it's so durned different! The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Haruhiko Shono
Publisher: Synergy Inc.
Release Date: 1994

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

System 7 or greater
256 colors
Power Mac or AV Mac for optimal sound
5 MB hard drive space

Windows 3.1 or greater
256 colors
5 MB hard drive space

Where to Find It

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