Plan 9 from Outer Space. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by David Sears
Celestial saucers from outer space! Corpses on the patio! Guest appearance by Bela Lugosi! Mix these cinematic faux pas with liberal portions of schlock horror devices, wooden tombstones, atrocious acting, and unforgivably awkward camera work and you have the original Plan 9 from Outer Space--the movie. Now, now, earthlings, don't groan in despair just yet. While most big-to-small screen adaptations leave us wanting, Plan 9 from Outer Space doesn't eclipse the flick of its inspiration with its badness. As games go, though, if Plan 9 isn't terrible enough to rise to cult hit status, how bad is it?
Bad is in the eye of the beholder, of course. From a gaming standpoint, Plan 9 offers nothing in the way of innovations. The point-and-click interface would profit from a more Sierra-like approach instead of tedious selection from menu options: Use item, Talk, Hit, and so on. After choosing Examine, for instance, you click on an onscreen item for a description. Then it's back to the menu to select Examine again so you can repeat the process on another item. This procedure alone could drive you to distraction. More annoying, however, is the tendency of dropped objects to disappear, hijacked by a meddlesome gremlin. Then, in a storeroom filled with useful items, you discover that you can carry only two before the irate producer of the movie shows up to berate you.
Speaking of the sleazy producer, he hires you--at a cut rate, of course--to find the missing reels of Plan 9. Bela Lugosi's double (he's the one who stomped around with a cape over his face) has stolen the film and plots to re-cut it with footage featuring himself and, even worse, to colorize it. You'd probably stop this conspiracy for free if the producer wasn't paying you.
To track down the missing reels, you'll visit both Bela's tomb and his suburban home-each characteristically limited in the number of locations to explore and objects to gather. The ubiquitous taxi proves a cumbersome and blatant method of design cost-cutting. Instead of roving from place to place, you take a taxi, and your list of destinations is limited by characters you've talked to or by the fliers you've read.
As reckoned by Konami, Plan 9 could supply beginning and intermediate players with sufficient challenge. Anyone who's seen the movie in all its tragic pretentiousness would enjoy the game. But most younger gamers probably haven't seen it; neither have most adults. Does a quest to find six reels of film set your heart aflutter? Let's hope Konami's ready to go with plan 10.
IBM PC or compatible (16-MHz 80286 or faster recommended), 640K RAM, 256-color VGA; mouse recommended, supports Ad Lib, Roland, and Sound Blaster--$39.95
KONAMI 900 Deerfield Pkwy. Buffalo Grove, IL 60089 (708) 215-5111
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