From Simon & Schuster and The Digital Village. Titanic's website (at time of writing.)
Oh my, you know you're going to have a very bad day when a Starship crashes on your house. It's even worse when the robot who comes down the ramp babbles at you a bit and then can't find the button in the elevator. And you'll be about ready to give it up entirely when the receptionist from hell makes even getting a room a chore.
This game features outstanding graphics, wonderful sounds and music, and some very very tough puzzles. Once upon a time, when most adventure games were text-based, Douglas Adams collaborated with Infocom to create Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Bureaucracy. Infocom created some of the most mind-boggling puzzles ever created for a computer. This game reminds me a lot of those.
Starship Titanic shows much of Douglas Adams's normal style of humour. Fentible the doorbot starts the game by asking you if you will help. He prompts you by saying "Type y - e - s". If you type "no", he'll reply by "That's a funny way to spell it." and lead you onboard anyway. Hitchhiker fans will note that the robots (known just as bots) in the game all have genuine people personalities. Well, not officially, but that's the impression I get having read the books and now played the game.
Be warned, the gorgeous graphics and music of this game bear a stiff price. Namely, you will need a good computer system before you can expect it to work properly, and the game won't even let you attempt to install it on a 486. A minimum install for Starship Titanic is 130 - 140 meg. This install will run just fine but you can expect a bit of CD swapping as you play.
Your interface to this world is the Personal Electronic Thing (pet). It allows you to talk to the various bots on the ship, you may store any amount of baggage using the PET. The PET also contains the remote control for most of the ship services. You can remember rooms by adding them to the Designer room numbers, and the last control allows you to save, load and quit the game.
The main aim of the game is to gain control of the ship, so you can return home. To do this first you need to explore the ship. Hmm, you don't get much access when you are stuck in third class. To get access to more of the ship, you'll need to upgrade your class. Second class is better, with more things you can do; but surely with an empty ship you can get a first class cabin?
As you upgrade your class, you will start finding pieces of Titania. These are hidden all over the ship and will require patience, observation and persistence to find and retrieve. The single most frustrating part is when you can find a piece, but you can't work out how to retrieve it.
The bots can be more friendly and helpful, you just need to find where and how to do it. One bot can even respond to a plea for 'help', once you discover how to change the bots settings. The parrot is there to annoy, you'll just have to put up with him!
Major hint: pay close attention to your cursor. Sometimes it changes over objects that you need to grab, if only you can work out how to do it. Watch for items that change, look for anything that looks out of place. There is also a little 'ding' that you'll hear if you have just solved one of the puzzles.
This is odd. You have to type in instructions to the various bots. Yes, you have to compose your very own messages. And usually have them misunderstood or queries on them. Hey the bots are bright, but the ship without Titania has no brain. So you have to keep instructions plain and simple.
There are any number of things you can type in to the bots; queries or instructions or even nonsense. But there are about three or four things that you must type in the correct question or command for the bot to perform. At least one of them is a bit difficult to get right. It's been some time since I last played a game where you had to type your own messages instead of choosing from a predetermined list.
It seems to have a few bugs that lock the game. The web site does have a few patch files available, so if you are having real problems, you should try those.
To me, it would have made more sense for the game opening to have the "Start new game" button at the top, the list of saved games in the middle and the "Resume game" at the bottom. At least twice, I chose a saved game, hit the bottom button and accidentally started a new game.
There are a few times when you need to find the right spot on the screen to do something, and you are currently holding an object which makes it tougher to find that spot. There was one puzzle I was thinking had a serious bit of critical timing, and yet it turned out that finding the right spot was the key that made the timing much simpler.
Some of the puzzles felt a bit arbitrary to me. Getting Titania's vision center and getting the brain core were two of the worst. Clues are available to help, but the sheer number and complexity of steps to solve these puzzles get ridiculous.
This game features some tough puzzles. The clues are usually available that will help you solve the puzzles but this game is best suited to either real adventure game addicts or those who don't mind resorting to the walkthroughs occasionally. It is very easy to run around in circles or start using every item in your inventory just to see what might happen.
The game is suitable for all ages, and nothing you can do will bring about your own death. There are only 5 save game slots, but you can't permanently lose an item or get the game to a no-win position so 5 save slots are adequate.
Recommended for those with a lot of patience or gamers who want a game that lasts them well or don't mind walkthroughs. Highly recommended for Infocom addicts who have been looking for that really difficult game.
I like the fact that there are some things you can do on the ship but don't have to. You can find names and passwords to access some email files. The email gives you a lot of insight into what did happen on the ship and why. You can both arm and disarm a bomb, though the latter is much harder than the former.
Some of the programming is subtle, easily missed but quite good. Going down in the lift takes you through first class with lovely orchestrated music. Then you get to second class, where the music is ok, but not as nice. Finally you pass the barrier into third class, at which time you get this horrible tinny music.
A much easier but equally funny adventure game is Toonstruck. A tough yet funny game is DiscWorld based on Terry Prachett's novels with its easier sequel DiscWorld II. Sam and Max Hit the Road may also appeal to you. Also Monkey Island available in a couple of LucasArts packages these days.