Orion Burger

Review by Jen

I had read a description of this game a couple of years ago, and it sounded intriguing. I set about to get a copy, only to find out how rare it was—in fact, I was beginning to think it was just a rumor. Anyway, I finally lucked into a copy from someone on the Game Trading Zone, so into the ol' CD drive it went. However, I'm not quite sure how useful this review will be to anyone else since it is so hard to get your hands on this game. Oh, well, it's not like I have anything better to do, so here goes.

The story goes a little something like this: there is a certain burger joint in the universe called, you guessed it, Orion Burger, that needs an unending yet quickly dwindling supply of planetary protein matter to grind into patties. Orion Burger's top protein procurer is an oily green guy, er, thing named Zlarg, who is not in the least morally or ethically troubled by the company's ban on harvesting intelligent life forms. He sets off into space with his sidekick, Flumix, and detects an ample supply of protein on a little blue planet called Earth. However, unbeknownst to either of them, a Planet Hugger named Astral has stowed away aboard their spaceship. Are you with me so far? Okay, then, Zlarg is forced by company policy to administer a battery of intelligence tests to a specimen of the life form he intends to harvest. Here's where you, as the hapless human specimen, Wilbur, enter the picture. You are abducted by Zlarg. You of course flunk the first intelligence test, it being rigged, and Zlarg instructs Flumix to wipe your short-term memory and send you back to Earth. Meanwhile, Astral, the Planet Hugger, has managed to damage the memory-wiping-and-sending-back machine to the point where you retain your memory and are put back on Earth one hour prior to your abduction. You must figure out how to beat the intelligence test before you are reabducted; if you don't, you flunk again and must start over, but if you do beat the test, Zlarg rigs up another, harder test for you. The plot was very entertaining, and it explained what really happened to the dinosaurs some 50 million years ago.

Gameplay, on the other hand, is an exercise in frustration. This has got to be one of the hardest games I have ever played. This is a part inventory- and part conversation-based game. The conversations are a piece of cake—you never have to replay them even when you're redoing parts of the game, and time spent in conversing is not deducted from the time until your next abduction. The inventory stuff is a different can of worms. Not only are there red herrings up the yin-yang, but there is that little time limit factor, and on top of that, you have to deal with the time shift, all of which come into play in finding what objects you need and how to use them. And if you screw up even the teensiest weensiest little bit, you have to replay the same parts over and over again because of the recurring abduction-and-getting-sent-back-to-Earth aspect. I'm pretty good at adventure games for the most part and resort to hints usually only once or twice per game, but I had to get hints about 100 times in this game. I'm not sure I could have even completed it without the Internet—I suppose I could have in time, but I would have become bored with all the redoing well before that point. Suffice it to say I think it was a great idea that fell flat in its execution.

The graphics were clean and crisp 2D cartoon-style. Let me make a comparison: the graphics are almost as good as those in the third Monkey Island game, The Curse of Monkey Island. They were colorful, rich, and not skimpy on the animation, plus they still look good almost four years later.

The music and sound effects were just fine but nothing to write home about. Most of the voice acting was great, but the actor who played Wilbur sounded just like Mickey Mouse. The way Wilbur is drawn, I'd expect a voice more in keeping with that of an older adolescent boy, so it was quite off-putting, more than once, when his squeaky voice came out of my speakers. On the whole, though, the voice acting was good—nothing spectacular but certainly nothing obnoxious, either.

Orion Burger is really quite a nice little game that deserved wider recognition and distribution, and it tried to do something a little different. I would recommend that you play it if you can ever obtain a copy, but on the other hand, don't feel like you need to go out of your way for it, either. I do, however, wish Eidos would rerelease it—it would certainly stand up well in comparison to the adventure games currently being released. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Sanctuary Woods
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Release Date: 1996

Available for: DOS Macintosh

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(My thanks to Rosemary Young of Quandary for supplying the screenshots)

System Requirements

68040 or Power Macintosh
8 MB RAM minimum
Not compatible with RAM Doubler
Mouse, keyboard
2X CD-ROM drive

DOS 5.0
2X CD-ROM drive
20 MB free hard drive space

Where to Find It

Check the Game TZ

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