Bigger games, smaller game makers. (new computer games)
by Shay Addams
Since Links 386 Pro started the trend, everything from flight sims to chess, from war games to adventures is sporting SVGA graphics. A few of these include Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space (simulation), Empire Deluxe (strategy), Rags to Riches (business simulation), Battlechess 4000 (chess), Car and Driver (racing simulation), Trump Castle III (gambling), AV-8B: Harrier Assault (flight sim/war game), SVGA Air Warrior (flight simulation), the V for Victory series (war games), and Gateway II: Homeworld (adventure).
Among the most recent releases to show off SVGA graphics is Gateway II: Homeworld, Legend Entertainment's second graphic adventure based on Frederick Pohl's series of science-fiction novels. Instead of following the novels' plot line, designers Mike Verdue and Glen Dahlgren relied on the environment of the stories to create a fresh episode in the Gateway saga.
In this one you will travel the stars in your quest for the home planet of the Heechee, a mysterious race of beings on the far side of the universe. If you enjoy puzzles based on operating high-tech gadgetry and devices, Gateway II is the way to go. Many of the puzzles revolve around such objects, and some have their own custom interfaces that eliminate the need for typing or even picking words from a menu.
Gateway II features more of everything that distinguished the first Gateway--digitized sounds, animation, and other special effects. The puzzles will be just as difficult, so Legend includes a free hint book in the package.
Legend is currently adapting another classic series--fantasy instead of science fiction this time--as an adventure. The Xanth novels of Piers Anthony are the basis for Companions of Xanth, due out about this time. Legend also publishes Steve Meretzky's Spellcasting quests, but the original Madman of Adventure is up to something completely different in his next game. It will still be a comedy, though: Meretzky's last shot at a "serious" adventure was A Mind Forever Voyaging, which some players dubbed A Game Forever Voyaging. Look for it any day now.
But don't keep looking for the PC version of M, SSI's science-fiction adventure. It's been postponed until next year, along with the Super NES version of Dark Sun: Shattered Lands. SSI may even opt to do only a CD-ROM version of M. That's because many of the space-consuming graphics would have to be trimmed or cut completely from a floppy-based version. SSI was one of three major developers that downsized in late spring. It lost 10 percent of the staff but, according to a spokesperson, it will still release 15 new titles this year as scheduled.
Sierra and MicroProse also reduced their staffs by 10 percent. Sierra had some hits last year, but reportedly took a beating due to the high startup costs of The Sierra Network. Though MicroProse reported record revenues for the year, unfortunately it also posted record expenses.
Science-fiction scenarios continue to dominate the games scheduled for release as summer winds down and autumn kicks in. Two more science-fiction scenarios should be docking at a spaceport near you this month, each offering a different slant on spaceships and aliens.
Tsunami Media's Protostar, which is in the same vein as Starflight, will be ten times bigger. Tsunami calls Protostar "... our most graphically stunning game so far." That's saying a lot, considering the lush graphics of Ringworld.
Origin's Privateer, set in the Wing Commander universe, is also scheduled to show up about this time.