Sectrumprose holomicrobyte? (Game Insider) (Column)
by Shay Addams
LucasArts' Day of the Tentacle is selling equally well on CD-ROM and floppy.
When Sierra asked Jim Walls to do another Police Quest, he turned in his badge and did Blue Force for Tsunami instead. The game turned out even better than some of his Police Quest work, and a sequel is underway. Sierra turned to another law enforcement veteran, former Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates, to codesign Police Quest IV. And it made the latest cop-on-the-beat adventure a cross-media event by bringing in "America's Most Wanted" producer Tammy Dargan to produce the game, which Sierra says creates a "whole new category of gaming: reality role-playing."
In a story set in contemporary Los Angeles, you play detective John Carey, out to find a killer who has "worked the media and public into a frenzy." Nowadays, Sierra is making an effort to differentiate its adventures, and the twist is technological in this latest Police Quest--it marks the first use of Kodak's DCS 200Ci digital camera in creating a computer game. Gates took the design team on location with the camera in downtown L.A. to shoot many of the color background scenes. Due out this month for MS-DOS, the game is also scheduled for CD-ROM and the Mac. (Rumors that the Gates-designed game includes a video camera are unfounded. Or at least there wasn't one in my package.)
In the fantasy realm, Sierra has transformed its TSN (The Sierra Network) multiplayer game Shadow of Yserbius into a single-player quest for PCs. The boxed edition includes a new chapter in the Yserbius saga and other new features. In November, look for Inca 2 and Goblins 3 (both created by Coktel Vision) and Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness from Sierra.
New engine, new world. Instead of just bringing out yet another Magic Candle game with a new software engine under the hood, designer Ali Atabek let the Candle series go out with the third installment. Atabek did develop an all-new engine, but he harnessed it to drive a fresh fantasy world and story line for Mindcraft's latest role-playing series, The Griffon Masters. The first installment is already out. And if you miss playing the original Magic Candle games, try The Bloodstone, which employs the same engine.
A first in the realm of "utilitainment" software, Walt Disney licensed some of its characters to Berkeley Systems, which does the After Dark screen saver. The new screen saver features animations from 101 Dalmatians, Beauty and the Beast, Mickey Mouse shorts, and other cartoon classics. Disney reportedly worked closely with Berkeley on the product and plans more such licenses and more coproducing in the future. Already out for the Macintosh, the screen saver should be shipping for Windows by now.
Sequel time. Origin's Wing Commander Academy lets you design new missions and trade them with friends or play new randomly generated missions. It's a stand-alone game, so you don't need the original program. But don't look for another Wing Commander for a while. Wing Commander III isn't slated for release until late 1994. But at least the construction set doesn't signal the end of the series, like it did with SSI's Unlimited Adventures construction set for Gold Box games. Origin is using the Strike Commander technology in upcoming titles such as Privateer, a trading and combat game which takes place in the depths of outer space, and Pacific Strike, which re-creates World War II dogfight action.
LucasArts' new variety pack, Classic Air Combat Sims, contains Battlehawks 1942, Their Finest Hour, and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, along with all the Tour of Duty disks. Adjustments were made so the joystick routines and other aspects of the older programs function well on a 486. B-Wing is LucasArts' second mission disk for X-Wing. It introduces a new craft to fly, as well as the fifth Tour of Duty. Spectrum HoloByte's MiG29 is the slickest and most substantial mission disk of the year, letting you take the other side in the Falcon 3.0 war.
Will CD-ROM games really sell? LucasArts simultaneously released Day of the Tentacle on floppy and CD-ROM. A major distributor reported the versions selling about equally--a good sign for the newer format. Other new CD-ROMs to look for this fall are Electronic Arts' Labyrinth (originally designed for CDTV) and Broder-bund's The Myst, both CD-ROM-only adventure-style games. Other recent CD-ROM releases worth looking for include I-Motion's Shadow of the Comet (mixing action and adventure) and Alone in the Dark II (adventure in a Gothic horror setting), as well as LucasArts' action-arcade game Rebel Empire (the company's first CD-ROM-only title).
The hot news as this was being written was Spectrum HoloByte's acquisition of MicroProse, a deal that pumped $10 million into the latter company. MicroProse's balance sheet, it's rumored, was inspiration for the title of Legacy: Realm of Terror, which was released prior to the deal. The plan is for both companies to operate independently.