Flight of the Amazon Queen

Review by Jen

This is a story of trials and tribulations, both for me and the game character. I had been looking for a copy of this game for quite some time and finally managed to get my hands on one. Full of excitement, I put it in my CD drive and tried launching it through a Windows 98 DOS box, only to get an error message saying that I had insufficient conventional memory (the game needs 582K). So I rebooted to my DOS 6.22 partition with 615K conventional memory available and tried it again. A nice little intro sequence played, soundlessly, and then the game crashed. Hard. I got to see a picture of two people, a man and a woman, tied to poles, the man blinking every once in a while. Control-Alt-Delete? No. I had to turn off my machine. I came to find out that the game is very sensitive to the type of sound card being used, and the point where the game was crashing was where speech occurred for the first time. The sound card choices given by the game were Roland, Ad Lib, Soundblaster, and "none." I have a Soundblaster Awe 64 and so fiddled around with the software for that a bit and finally got the game to run, with much cursing and muttering in the process. However, there were two places to choose a sound card, one for music and one for sound effects. I never did get the sound effects to work, which includes the voice acting, but I played on anyway because the speech was printed on the screen. On top of all this, my CD drive broke right as I neared the end of the game, so I had to wait a week for my new one to arrive before I could finish it (violins play a heart-wrenching melody—can you hear it? Does your heart not bleed for me?).

Anyway, the story takes place in the forties or early fifties—it's a spoof of the cliff-hanger movies of that time. You play as Joe King, pilot for hire, who has been hired to fly Faye Russell, movie star, from Rio de Janeiro into the Amazon Jungle for a movie shoot. First you have to beat out another pilot, Anderson, who is handsomer and smarter and everything-er than you (and has a better plane), and then you finally get airborne only to crash your plane in the middle of the Amazon. From there, you escape one plight after another, meeting tall pygmies, Amazon princesses, lederhosen manufacturers, mummies, monkeys, and finally dinosaurs. Your ultimate goal is to foil the evil Dr. Ironstein's plot to take over the world by turning kidnaped Amazons into dinosaur warriors, at the same time rescuing yourself and your companions. The plot is very true to the cliff-hanger style and has lots of twists and turns; also, the comedy is on a par with the Monkey Island games.

The graphics are also on a par with the LucasArts games of the same period. In fact, this whole game could have been released by LucasArts. The style of play is the same, jokes, graphics, everything is very similar. There are about ten main locales in the game, each of which takes up at least two or three screens, and they are all very nicely drawn. The characters look good, and there is a fair amount of movement in the backgrounds. The scenes also contain some red herrings, too, so the game is not quite as simple as one might think. There were a couple of conversations, though, where just a close-up of the speaking character was shown, with only the lips moving. I have never liked this and still don't, but I can only think of three times that this happened and so it was not a major distraction.

As for the game, you talk to people to learn what tasks you are to complete and then use inventory items creatively to progress. The tasks are all nested—you have to complete one to get another one to get another one, etc., and then you're done. That was so the maximum use could be made of cliff-hangers, I guess, but I like that style of play. When your cursor moves over an item that is worth looking at, a description of the item shows on the screen and an action is suggested. Several action icons are located on the bottom left of the screen, so you click an action icon and then the item you wish to perform the action on. Your inventory is on the bottom right, so you can use the actions on those items in addition to the items on the screen; there are several places where you have to combine inventory items and then use them on something on the screen. To walk around, you just click where you want to go, and your character automatically walks there. The interface is easy to use and did not get in the way of the game, and the gameplay itself made for a fun experience.

I can't write about the voice acting or sound effects for the reasons I described above, but the music was just adequate. I got tired of it every once in a while and had to turn my speakers down all the way, but then it seemed too quiet, so I turned them back up. Also, the technology used was not current enough to sound very good on my computer—the music had that kind of PC-speaker tinniness, although that is a gross exaggeration. What I mean to say is that the music sounded electronically produced on electronic instruments to be played back electronically. The tunes were okay, though—they were well-suited to the style of the game, and the loops did not repeat every 10 seconds.

Overall, I would recommend this game but with reservations related to technology. I think that there are a lot of younger computer users out there who have never had to deal with DOS issues, and unless you are comfortable with older technology or really like to fiddle with drivers and configurations and what not, you should probably avoid this game. I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to actually get it to run under Windows 95 or 98, in either a DOS box or with a DOS reboot, but don't take my word as gospel. If you think you can get it to run, I would recommend it most heartily. Even without the sound effects and voices, I enjoyed Flight of the Amazon Queen a lot. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Interactive Binary Illusions
Publisher: WarnerActive
Release Date: 1995

Available for: Windows

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System Requirements

386/DOS 4.0 or higher
582K conventional memory
1X CD-ROM drive

Where to Find It

Check the Game TZ

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