Wonderland. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Joey Latimer
The computer tells me, You are getting a tingling sensation. But it's too late. I grow so large that my head crashes through the roof, and I wake from by dream, only to realize I was playing Wonderland, a new adventure game based on the dream world of Lewis Carroll.
When the game begins, you play the part of Alice, who falls asleep as she sits on the bank of a river with her sister, Emily, who is reading. Wandering into a nearby pear grove, you pick a magical pear and then follow a rabbit into a hole. There the pear becomes a lantern and lights your way into a world of puzzles and enchantment.
In Wonderland, as in most adventure games, you travel by typing. The comparison with other games ends there, though, as Wonderland has newly developed sound, windowing, and memory-management systems to help you hear, see, and keep track of the action with the touch of your mouse button. When you enter a room, for instance, you can set up Wonderland to display a detailed animated picture on the screen, play a musical score, describe the scene in a text window, show you a map and a compass--all at the same time! All this data appears in windows that you can size and move around to suit your needs...a very magical idea, indeed.
Although it may sound simple, Wonderland isn't all fun and games. As I explored Wonderland, I found myself in situations where I didn't to things in quite the right order, and I'm afraid that Alice bit the dust and woke up...always with that pest Emily, standing by and criticizing.
You don't have to look in a magazaine for hints because Wonderland has a feature that lets you collect hints as you need them. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a hint to tell me how to get rid of Emily. Beware--the program keeps track of how often you get hints and lowers your score.
The Wonderland package comes with nine floppy disks, a 66-page user's guide, quick-reference cards, and a map of Wonderland. I installed Wonderland on the hard drives of both a 386SX and a Tandy 1000SX. After playing each system, I noticed that the difference in performance between systems was extreme. The graphics and text on the Tandy 1000SX (Tandy 16-color) came up slow and were harder to make out than the vivid images on the 386SX with VGA. Therefore, for the best results, I highly recommend running Wonderland on a fast system (12 MHz or faster) with high-resolution VGA graphics. Also, the addition of an Ad Lib or Roland sound card makes for a great improvement over the tiny speaker built into PC's and compatibles.
Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing. As more powerful hardware becomes available, it's nice to know that Virgin Mastertronic is working on ways to take advantage of that power. The user interface of Wonderland (much to the dismay of my family) made it easy to get lost in the story. Now, if I could only figure out which potion to drink, I wouldn't keep bumping my head.