Continuum. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
Given the power of today's personal computers, you'd think it would be easy to come up with an original game concept. Unfortunately, 99 out of 100 games are variations on old themes. However, it is with great delight that this computerist reports stumbling upon a game so captivating and fresh that nothing short of a nuclear attack will stop me from playing it. Load Continuum, and you'll see.
Pilot your "mobile" through a 256-room maze, searching for 16 cubes and 15 crystals. Mobiles can turn right or left and can accelerate forward. To become airborne, however, they must bounce on one of many colored platforms scattered throughout each room. Moving from one platform to the next means bouncing to the appropriate height and applying enough thrust to reach your target. Too much or too little thrust, and you miss the platform and fall back to the floor, where you restart your laborious climb.
To exit a room, you must reach any of several windows high on the room's walls. Each window leads to a different room in the maze. Reaching a window is as difficult as getting a date with Michelle Pfeiffer. As if bouncing from platform to platform isn't challenging enough, some rooms contain obstacles--force fields, energy drains, and enemy mobiles--which block exits, knock you from platforms, or bounce you out of control. In addition, platforms are often arranged in puzzling patterns. Some platforms even move, gliding back and forth through a room, placing high demands on your mobile-control skills.
The game, which is played from first-person perspective, features 3-D graphics and animation so well implemented that if you're prone to motion sickness, you may want to keep a box of Dramamine next to your computer. To make the environment even more realistic, the room can be viewed from any angle by adjusting the camera. The camera, too, is well implemented--changing the viewing angle feels as natural as raising and lowering your head. You won't experience the lose-your-place disorientation common to so many shifting-viewpoint games.
Continuum can be played in two modes, action or emotion. In action mode, you start the maze with three minutes on the clock. Entering a room adds one minute, whereas capturing crystals and cubes may add substantially more time. Your score is based on flight time and the number of objects you captured.
Of course, scoring isn't everything. Continuum's designers give you the opportunity to merely explore. In emotion mode, you navigate specially designed mazes without worrying about score or time. The mazes are, according to the manual, "scientifically proven" to evoke certain emotions. Each region of the maze is tagged with an appreciate name, including Dream, Relax, Motivation, and Meditate, among others. While I can't attest to the game's ability to affect your psyche, I can say that the Ad Lib-compatible music is wonderfully melodious.
One in a hundred, Continuum will draw you into its world again and again. Keep this puppy locked up, and give the key to someone you trust. Otherwise, you'll get no work done.