Y2K: The Game

Review by Jen

In an effort to capitalize on the brouhaha over the impending doom that was to be the Y2K bug, Interplay released this game late in December 1999 to little or no fanfare. I saw it in CompUSA, and I bought it. It didn't hurt that it was only $20, either. Well, the Y2K bug didn't really amount to much. Does the game?

In this third-person game, you play as Buster, Super-Nerdman, who hits the lottery and buys a state-of-the-art, completely electronically controlled mansion. He is all set to celebrate the new year with his Super-Nerdwoman girlfriend, Candace, and drinks a little too much champagne. He falls asleep and wakes up shortly before midnight only to find that the computer that controls the mansion has taken on a life of its own and has truly become (drum roll, please) Artificial Intelligence. The computer and the various robots it controls have become malevolent, and it is up to you to shut them down and restore tranquillity and usefulness to the machinery.

The graphics are surprisingly nice. I warn you up front, though, that you should have a 3D card. You can play the game in software rendering mode, but the picture is wavy enough to make you seasick, and yet it looks marvy in hardware mode. The game takes place in various rooms of the mansion, about 10 of them, and each has a different look and atmosphere. Attention was paid to detail; the hardwood floors look almost photographic.

The puzzles are for the most part fairly easy. There are a lot of inventory items, and mostly you find the item you need in the room that you need it. Gameplay largely consists of entering a room, getting trapped in the room by a (excuse me, but I've always wanted to say this) lean mean fighting machine, and having to figure out how to disable the machine. However, it is easy to miss some of the inventory items because they are in a sea of extraneous items that you can't use or interact with.

The music and voice acting are also surprisingly not bad. There is an elevator ride, and always in a game with an elevator ride, there is elevator music. (Strange ... I don't think I've ever heard music in an elevator in real life.) The music in this elevator for some reason acted as a child repellent—both of my sons just hated it and would run away from my computer until the elevator ride was over. I took a couple of extra elevator rides just to punish them in advance for little sins not yet committed.

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Well, now for the drawbacks. The first and foremost is that there is only one saved game—yep, you heard right, only one saved game in this era of 30- and 40-gigabyte hard drives. That is inexcusable in my opinion. The second is that you can't skip through any cutscenes, even if you've seen them before, and while they are charming, if strange, once, they are purely annoying the second time through.

And now to the reason why there was a second time through—I hit a gigantic bug about three-quarters of the way through the game. Without giving anything away, suffice it to say that I needed an inventory item from another room to retrieve an inventory item in the room that I was in; I did not have said inventory item from the other room; I went back to get it; and when I returned with it to retrieve the other inventory item, the other inventory item was gone. Completely. As if it had never existed. And yet another inventory item that I had used to trigger the part where I needed to retrieve the inventory item that I needed to retrieve was also gone. (Huh?) Never to be seen again. And guess what? I had unwittingly saved it that way in my one lone saved game. (I suspect my neighbors wondered what all the cursing was about ... and I bet they guessed wrong.)

So ... I had to start all over from the beginning. And then to add insult to injury, the l-e-n-g-t-h-y  c-r-e-d-i-t-s that I was forced to sit through at the end of game listed about 50 or 100 play testers. (Hyperbole, certainly, but it makes my point nicely, you must agree.) How ever did they miss this? Overall, I had the impression that the game was rushed to market because of the date-sensitive nature of the title, and it could have really stood a little bit more polishing.

Having said that, I think the good outweighs the bad. Y2K is a fun little game and cheap to boot, plus it has a surreal aspect that appeals to me. I felt like I got $20 worth of entertainment—had I not hit the "Y2K bug" (hee hee) and just played the game all the way through on my first try, it would have lasted me about five or six hours. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: RuneCraft
Publisher: Interplay
Release Date: December 1999

Available for: Windows

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System Requirements

Pentium 166
Windows 95/98 with DirectX 6.1 or later (included)
100 MB minimum available hard drive space
DirectX certified sound and video card
8X or faster CD-ROM drive
100% Microsoft-compatible mouse

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