Oo-ToposKaren G. McCullough Requirements: Apple II-series computer with a minimum of 64K, Commodore 64, Atari ST, or IBM PC and compatibles (64K minimum); versions are planned for Atari XL series, Amiga, and Macintosh computers.
It's 1995 A.D. You're the captain of an intergalactic spacecraft, carrying a cargo of chemical seeds desperately needed to combat a mass of transfusion waste scattered when an interstellar transport collided with a meteor. The transfusion waste is dangerously close to an inhabited planet called Earth; if your cargo isn't delivered promptly, all life on Earth will be destroyed.
It should have been a routine voyage. But a gang of space pirates snared your ship with a tractor beam and forced it to land on the planetoid Oo-Topos. Hostile aliens boarded the ship and took you prisoner.
Now you find yourself in a locked cell in an alien compound. With all those lives depending on you, you've got to find a way to escape and repair your ship. Getting out of the cell isn't too difficult—the aliens build great tractor beams, but their locks are a pushover.
Once out, though, you have to find and retrieve the scattered parts of your spaceship, while avoiding your jailers and the various other menaces that lurk in the station. It's not an easy task.
A Touch of Science Fiction
Neither is this adventure game, but it’s great fun. This is a game where the designation "science fiction" means more than that it's set on some distant planet in some future time. A degree in physics isn't required, but some familiarity with the literature of science fiction will help.
The touches that give it a science-fiction feel are well done. Mapping the installation requires ingenuity—rooms and exits don't always lead where you expect, and the exact location of other rooms is difficult or impossible to determine. But there is a logic behind all of it. The "strange floor" appears to operate randomly, but that's not the case, as some experimentation will show.
The graphics alone are worth the price and give an added dimension (pun accidental, but appropriate) to the game, They were created with The Graphics Magician program by a pair of genuine computer artists. For example, despite his ferocious-sounding name, the "snarl" may be the cutest alien creature ever to grace a video screen.
But you're not forced to look at the pictures; pressing RETURN toggles between text and graphics modes. Operating purely in text mode speeds up play, but the graphics add so much, it's a waste not to use them. The text option is helpful for reviewing long descriptions or discovering where you've been. One other operation which text mode speeds up is the manipulation of objects. My one and only quibble with the game is its insistence on redrawing the entire screen every time you pick up or drop an object.
You're the captain of an intergalactic spaceship in Penguin's Oo-Topos graphics and text adventure.
An Outstanding Parser
What The Graphics Magician has done for the video display. Comprehend has done for the player interface. (Comprehend is parser software which breaks down your typed-in commands and lets you communicate with the computer in full sentences.) This program is so slick and fast you forget you're dealing with a parser. Experienced adventurers will be amazed how infrequently you get the irritating message, "I don't understand what you mean." The parser accepts full sentences and multiple commands without complaint. And I've yet to be jarred by an inappropriate response.
Polarware/Penguin Software has done us all one final favor. If you get totally stuck, you can get a hint booklet free. I'm sending for my copy today. I've gotten far enough to know that I badly need the translator, but I can't figure out how to disable that cursed sonic scanner.
Oo-ToposPolarware/Penguin Software 2600 Keslinger Rd. P.O. Box 311 Geneva, IL 60134 $17.95 (Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari XL) $19.95 (Atari ST, Macintosh, and IBM) $29.95 (Amiga)