Webmaster

Review by Orb

Webmaster is not your run-of-the-mill kinda game. It's built using its own rules and combines elements that are very unusual, including a system of movement that's the first like it I've seen, as well as arcade sequences to acquire inventory items. Now, I hope that has not scared you off, because although it is different, it's fun different, not "don't make me eat that, mom" different.

The title of the game gives it much more of a utilitarian or edutainment air than actually exists with the game. Although the game is couched in terms from the Internet, the developers have designed their own world using a few of the symbols and terminology from the Internet, but that's about it. This is not something that is a tool to teach children what the Internet is, or how to use it, but rather it's a lighthearted fantasy game, built in its own world.

The story is that there was once a place within the World Wide Web called the Dream Wide Web (DWW). This place was an oasis until one day a Hacker came and destroyed the tranquility. The residents need a Webmaster (that's you, bub) to come and fight the Hacker and restore peace to their land. The game is started at your Homepage, a house inside a tree. The story is told in complete abstracts, and for the gamer that thinks she has seen everything and is jaded by it all, this is worth a whirl as it is very obviously designed based on fresh and new ideas.

There are also characters called Getties, which are tiny, fuzzy light creatures that fly around throughout the game and are used to great effect in a variety of entertaining arcade games that are found throughout.

The environments of the game are fun, and they are very cleverly drawn in a whimsical style. The screens are static—the player cannot move about them and click on things, except in a very controlled fashion. The movement is very unusual and actually quite frustrating until you get the hang of it. The player must hold the mouse down, and while holding it down, drag it forward to move to another location, either within that game area or to move to another one. There are no keyboard controls. It's the weirdest interface I've ever seen. Not bad, just weird. One drawback to this is that the game docs do not adequately explain this movement system, and it really should be gone over, as it is singular to this game. Another unfortunate aspect is that the graphics are a bit grainy despite the quality of the style of design.

As for puzzles, the player collects cards, which are stored as inventory in the bottom left of the game screen. There are four separate levels that have areas to be explored, and these can only be accessed by passing though a room called a "Firewall." Cards must be used correctly here or the player cannot pass and continue. Once through an area, all areas of the game the player has passed through remain open to return to as she likes.

There is also a series of games that can be played to increase the amount of cards or get a particular card that is needed to complete a level. I found all of these, with the exception of one, very entertaining. The exception was an arcade sequence where the player must bat a Getty back through a series of screens to a back wall, where the Gettie drops his card. This was next to impossible to do on a laptop with a trackpad because of the click-hold-drag style of the interface.

Another unusual aspect of the game, and really something that is a design highlight, is that the player is given not only a saving system with unlimited saves, but also a bank of screens across his options screen (called a Navigator) that allow him to save whichever game areas he likes, so he can quickly travel back and forth among them. This is an extremely useful tool, as there are multiple locations to travel between while collecting cards.

The music is very lighthearted and fun, and the sound effects used with the Getties are a hoot. Other sound effects are appropriate and amusing.

There are three different levels of gameplay, and the increase in difficulties includes getting attacked by viruses and using the correct set of collected cards to handle them. There are three of these throughout the game.

The endgame is a small cutscene that is a nice bit of animation as a reward for successfully completing the game. The player is also given the opportunity to continue the game online once the game is completed successfully and is given a password to access this area.

Webmaster is a clever and different game, offering a bright design and entertaining gameplay. If you're looking for something new and different, definitely give it a whirl. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Ijsfontein Interactive Media
Publisher: Tivola
Release Date: 1999
Photosensitive Seizure Factor: medium

Available for: Macintosh Windows

Four Fat Chicks Links

Tips and Tricks
Player Feedback

Screenshots

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System Requirements

PC:
Windows 95/98
Pentium 150 MHz
32 MB RAM
Graphics card with 256 colors
Sound card
12X CD-ROM drive

Macintosh:
Power PC 150 MHz
32 MB RAM
12X CD-ROM drive
System 7.5

Where to Find It

Check the Game TZ

 
   
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