Mystery Island II

Review by Orb

Adventure games designed specifically for the Macintosh are few and far between. So with some delight I encountered Mystery Island II, by Koingo Software, an independent Mac software developer best known for its shareware utilities for the Mac, such as FileGeek. Mystery Island II falls somewhere in that netherworld between independently released adventure and shareware. This is the company's freshman effort at an adventure game, and they have done an admirable job with limited resources.

The title itself has been released as shareware. A free demo is available for download, as well as the full version, at myriad Mac sites, such as VersionTracker, and the game itself can be purchased in its entirety and downloaded directly from Koingo. It is also Carbonized for OS X users. What makes this different from most shareware adventures is the designers attempt a full, albeit short-lived, adventure game experience. And with all this in mind, they have certainly done a commendable job.

As for the story, you play as an unnamed US Navy Seal, aboard the USS Volaris, which is suddenly and inexplicably attacked and blown apart. You are thrown clear of the blast and manage to make your way to a nearby island, floating in wreckage from the ship. Once ashore, as you begin to explore the island, you uncover an alien plot to take over earth and enslave the populace. It is your job to stop the aliens.

The graphics are very, very simple and unadorned for an adventure game title but actually fairly sophisticated for shareware. I can't reiterate enough that the game is put together well enough to really cross that boundary a bit and fall just to the other side of the usual shareware expectations. I'd like to see these boys with a bigger budget and a few more hands at the wheel—I have a feeling that the result would be highly playable and a winner.

The game plays in a window and does not fill the whole screen. It does not, however, play in a tiny window, which some earlier games have been guilty of, and the window size does not in any way hamper gameplay or the ability to see areas of the game.

The music is simple but nicely written, and it plays in short loops. I noticed that it would eventually cut out in a scene, and if I wanted it to continue, I would have to choose it from a drop-down menu. The music can also be switched between two styles, a slow, soothing tempo, and another that is faster with more of an action feel. There are a few nifty sound effects. There is no voice acting; instead, the dialogue is printed at the top of the screen. The alien characters that are encountered are cleverly drawn.

Mystery Island II is entirely mouse-driven. The game cursor does not change, with the intention of making the game more of a challenge. This is a very usual flaw in adventure game design, as no amount of exasperated and wild clicking can take the place of a more complex game experience. In all fairness, though, given the limited size of this game, it is understandable that this would be worked into the design, to give players more bang for their buck, so to speak.

The player can die, and regular saving can keep this from being a grind. I found myself startled multiple times by this, and I ended up laughing at my jumpiness, then actually going out of my way a bit to find out how many different ways I could get knocked off.

The game is controlled by forward clicks of the mouse and clicks on left and right control buttons to turn. There is a smattering of inventory-based puzzles, as well as some that involve manipulation of screen images and using codes, etc. Inventory is controlled by mouse clicks, and once objects are picked up, they change in inventory to the name of an item. Clicking on an item's name in whatever game area one is in will tell the player immediately if the item can be used there or not, and the game will use the item for the player once the correct item is clicked on in the correct location.

Mystery Island II is a shareware cross between the style and look of Shono's L-Zone and The Castle by Blue Byte Studios (another Mac-only title), although it is less sophisticated in its design than The Castle. This is not a long game—it is, for the experienced gamer, an evening's entertainment. But this should not put you off—it is an enjoyable effort, and it's definitely to Koingo's credit that they settled on developing something for the adventure genre. The game is very much worth purchasing to support the effort. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Koingo Software
Publisher: Koingo Software
Release Date: April 2001

Available for: Macintosh

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System Requirements

120 MHz Mac
Quicktime 4.0
Mac OS 8/Mac OS X

Where to Find It

Free download from
Koingo Software

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