Starship Titanic

Review by Orb

Make It Stop Mommy, It Burns!

Why, why, why? I can't even imagine what these people were thinking. It looks like an adventure game, it certainly has puzzles, places to explore, a plot, prerendered graphics, etc., but something was done with these elements here to make the completion of this game an equitable experience to having to get multiple doses of oral surgery.

The thing that is so misleading about Starship Titanic is that it actually looks as though it is going to be a fun game. And I went into it with my nose up in the air, having heard the stories of mind-numbingly hard puzzles but thinking smugly to myself, "Ha! I've played so many of these, I'm sure I'll know the lay of the land and have it figured out in no time at all. What a bunch of babies those other players were." And promptly came out the other side of it holding my nose, with my eyes watering.

Now don't get me wrong. I adore Douglas Adams. I've got all the Hitchhiker books and even a boxed set of the filmed adaptation. But even my admiration for this beloved writer could not ease my temperament in dealing with this title.

The story is quite straighforward. At the center of a galaxy, a beautiful, most elaborate starship, the Starship Titanic, has been built. It crashes into your house (Adams lifts his own material here), and you end up on board. During the course of gameplay, you discover what has happened to the ship and what must be done to repair it so you may return home.

The graphics are actually quite impressive. The design was carefully done, overseen and orchestrated by Douglas Adams himself, and it has the feel of a very elegant old Art Deco hotel, dipped in some sci-fi. A perfectly acceptable mix, and very lovely. Of course, this feature gives a glossy finish to the horrific underpinnings of the game as the player struggles through sloggish game controls, a highly complex inventory system, as well as an unwieldy text parser stuck in the middle, one suspects as a poorly thought–out homage to Adam's earlier Hitchhiker text adventure.

One feature that I really admired, and wish there would be more of in all games, is that the game offers the option of a full install to the hard drive. This was just dandy and serves the same function of getting a multiple-CD game (this is three) onto a DVD.

I have to mention something about the transitional graphics. Someone had the idea that when the game moves from location to location, the screen and all of the graphics should turn blurry while moving. This trick gives the player the feeling that she is at a college frat house in the middle of a hazing ritual that includes attempted alcohol poisoning. The first night I played, I actually got a headache and had to leave the game alone for several days before attempting it again.

There is a highly complex inventory system, with four different sections—the player must keep chevrons that are for each room in the game in one, another is to have conversations with the mechanized characters met along the way throughout the story, one shows you which room can be accessed in whichever elevator you are in (and there are four elevators, all exactly alike—have fun keeping that straight), and the final one is for inventory items proper. Confused? Join the club.

The music is actually quite well done, and along with the graphics, it tricks the player into thinking he is in for a real treat of a good time.

The puzzles in Starship Titanic are one of the major failings of this game. Did you ever see the movie Heaven's Gate? Do you remember it? The four-hour debacle that virtually finished off director Michael Cimino in Hollywood? Well, let me tell you, brother, the puzzles in Starship Titanic are like watching into the fourth hour of that movie. That's the best I can explain it. And I really think the tipoff here is that someone has started to package and sell the game with the strategy guide thrown in for free, and I earnestly believe that we should all, adventuring babies, take that sort of thing as a big fat clue when it comes to game shopping. You could even think of it as a real-world shopping puzzle. "Gee ... now what's the reason these guys are giving me a free twenty-dollar book?" My favorite part of this is the PC Gamer magazine blurb on the back: "Forget Riven. This may be the game that reignites the adventure genre!" Some public relations person earned his or her paycheck the week that was published, that's for sure!

Unlike Mae West, when this is bad, it is not better. Is there someone that you really want to get even with for some slight? Give him this game. And make sure you keep the strategy guide. That way it'll work better than a computer virus. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: The Digital Village
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 1998

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

120 MHz Power PC or faster
Mac OS 7.5 or later
160 MB hard drive space
Thousands of colors

Windows 95
100 MHz Pentium (133 recommended)
160 MB available hard drive space
16-bit (high-color) capable video card and monitor
Video and sound cards 10% compatible with DirectX 5.0
4X CD-ROM drive

Where to Find It

Check the Game TZ

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