Holiday grab bag. (Game Insider)(recently released computer games) (Buyers Guide) (Column)
by Shay Addams
A look at some holiday game releases that have high fun factors.
Tackled by a steroid-punchy linebacker, I teleported to safety in the mist-enshrouded land of Zona, only to be blasted out of the sky by a screaming F-16. Christmas approaches--the time of year when I rip through an onslaught of new games on my eternal quest for the best. Here are quick looks at the latest releases that have passed the Fun Test so far this season.
Adventures. Return to Zork brings Infocom's classic adventure up-to-date in a new story featuring digitized actors and an hour of spoken dialogue.
SSI's Dungeon Hack is a 3-D role-playing quest with a random dungeon generator, extending replay value. Companions of Xanth takes place in the fantasy universe of Piers Anthony, whose books have sold over 7 million copies. The interface is easier to use than in previous Legend Entertainment games, even providing an undo button. Also look for Leisure Suit Larry VI from Sierra for the raciest adult entertainment (this may be a CD-ROM-only release) and The Legend of Kyrandia II, scheduled for CD-ROM and floppy.
Simulations. Accolade put a couple of titles into play in time for Christmas. Keep an eye out for Speed Racer. Based on a popular Japanese cartoon character, it's a fast-paced motorcycle simulation with an emphasis on arcade action. But don't look for the previously announced Mike Ditka Football II. Ditka was apparently ditched, and Accolade's latest football simulation, with a fresh string of fridiron features and effects, is called Savage Sunday.
Dynamix brings Sid and Al's incredible Toons, an animated cartoon-style game based on the same concept as The Incredible Machine. If you've ever watched Wile E. Coyote build one of those complicated traps for the Roadrunner, you'll get the idea behind Toons. Graue Wolfe, the Dynamix sub simulation, has been renamed Aces of the Deep (turns out the original name is also used by a terrorist group!) and rescheduled for early 1994. EA's SSM/21 Seawolf, the sequel to 688 Attack Sub, should hit around Thanksgiving, featuring full support for 16-bit General MIDI sound. The more than 100 digitized sounds are often used strategically; you must learn to distinguish sonar signatures of whales and different types of submarines, for instance.
Star Wars fans can find excitement in two LucasArts titles. TIE Fighter is the Empire's answer to X-Wing. It's a standalone space combat simulation in which you fight for the Empire instead of the Rebel Alliance. LucasArts also has a CD-ROM-only action game, Rebl Assault, based on the Star Wars story. (Besides IBM CD-ROM, it's also available for Sega CD and CD-I.) SimCity 2000, available for IBM and Macintosh, is an entirely new program, not just an upgrade. Maxis delivers 3-D graphics, a map you can rotate and zoom in on, and countless new elements suggested by SimCity enthusiasts, including subways, hospitals, and even a functioning water system. SimFarm is another hot simulation from Maxis.
Edutainment. Best known for gambling simulations, Villa Crespo may soon be famous for The Cookie Break Series, high-quality software at budget prices ($12.95). The first titles are Adventure Math and Flags of Every Nation. Adventure Math uses a very graphic design to teach subtraction, division, multiplication, and addition. Flags of Every Nation is a one-of-a-kind program with illustrations of over 600 flags; when one is displayed, you can click on it to get details about the flag's nation or its historical significance. The program includes a trivia game that incorporates these facts.
Money savers. Besides new games, look for great deals on collections such as Legend Entertainment's Spellcasting Party Pak, with all three of Steve Meretzky's wacko adventures (a CD-ROM version may follow the floppy). Villa Crespo has a bundle with some of its best gambling games, including Jack's Plus Video Poker, Mini-Blackjack, and three more.
CD-ROMs. Sir-Tech has two new CD-ROM collections for the PC: The Wizardry Trilogy, Part II contains Heart of the Maelstrom, Bane of the Cosmic Forge, and Crusaders of the Dark Savant. Another collection offers these three, the first four Wizardrys, and a history of Sir-Tech and the Wizardry series. Adventurous gamers should also check out Origin's Ultima Underworld 1 & 2 CD-ROM collection. The Coffee Break Series CD-ROM Collection puts 21 of Villa Crespo's games on one CD-ROM for only $79. Villa Crespo also has one of the most intriguing new CD-ROM titles in Rosemary West's House of Fortunes, which uses tarot cards, astrology, and three other methods to tell your fortune.
Video games. Need something to keep the kids off your computer so you can play a real game? If you've got a Genesis, try Mutant League Hockey, EA's comic-style interpretation of hockey that stars cartoon characters in a hockey game with no rules. Inspired by the "Young Indiana Jones" TV series, Westwood's Young Merlin is a SNES quest aimed at young adventures.