Galleons of Glory. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Steve Anzovin
Magellan never completed his quest for glory, honor, and gold; he was killed by Philippine tribesmen while still thousands of miles from home. Galleons of Glory re-creates his sixteenth-century voyage from Spain to the coast of South America and shows you what it was like to be an admiral setting sail for the unknown during the Age of Discovery.
Galleons also teaches managerial skills. To acquire gold and glory, you must equip and maintain your ship, keep your crew in line, weigh the opinions of your officers, deal with adverse weather and sea conditions, and explore unmapped coastline. As you gather information and issue orders to your captain, navigator, and other officers, you must keep track of provisions, maintain morale, and watch for signs of discontent. Lose touch with your crew, and a traitorous officer will organize a mutiny. Unless you can discover who is leading the rebellion, you'll be marooned on shore, falling to your knees in despair as your ship sails on without you. Mutinies are less likely if you locate treasure and extract it with minimum casualties from the natives you meet.
This game is more challenging than Broderbund's Carmen Sandiego series, but it should appeal to much the same audience. The interface is very easy to master, and the graphics are well done, especially in VGA. A few things are slightly off about Galleons of Glory, though. Play can be repetitive. With such a small cast of characters, players will find themselves hopping frequently between cabin and galley, longing for a change of scene (much like real sailors, I suppose). Younger players will probably find it impossible to guess the leader of the mutineers, so their games will never progress very far.
Some of the less palatable aspects of Magellan's voyages are glossed over in Galleons. Mention is made of wormy biscuits, but you don't experience the extreme hardships that the crew suffered (at one point Magellan's men were reduced to eating boiled leather). The natives with whom you trade or fight are offensive stereotypical caricatures bearing little resemblance to the South American coastal peoples that Magellan and other explorers actually met-and often enslaved or killed.
Interestingly, conversion of the natives to Christianity is not one of the onshore menu options, although that was one of the main goals of Magellan's expedition and ultimately proved to be his undoing. Nor do you get a sense of what drove Magellan personally-his religious zeal, the Spanish desire for world domination, the rivalry between the Portuguese Magellan and his Spanish captains.
Still, if you are intrigued by the exploits of "so noble a captain," as Magellan's chronicler Antonio Pigafetta called him, take the helm. Galleons of Glory proves to be quite a seaworthy simulation.
IBM Pc and cornpatible, 512K RAM, CGA, EGA, VGA, Hercules, Tandy 16-color, supports Ad Lib, Digital, Sound Blaster, and Tandy 3-voice sound-$44.95
17 Paul Dr.
San Rafael, CA 949M