From Mulawa

Brief Description

Would you like to visit the Australian rain forest? Do you like solving puzzles? Then perhaps you should look at a this offering from an individual programmer based in Townsville Queensland.

The game is placed in the National Park of Alligator Creek. Most of the background pictures of the game are from that park. The puzzles are tucked away within this setting. Some of them are very obvious, like a card table on a rock. Others are hinted at by stars glittering in the background. And others are more subtly placed within the landscape.

There are a total of 24 puzzles that you need to find and solve. Points are awarded for solving each puzzle, and sometimes for partial solutions within the puzzle. A solved puzzle is worth at least 1000 points, but you can earn bonus points for some of them.

The puzzles themselves are an interesting mix of fairly standard ideas (reassemble the broken item), variations of standard puzzles (a mutating jigsaw where pieces resize themselves to fit different shapes) and unique items. The most fascinating set of puzzles were the turtle logo puzzles. It takes a bit to get started on those, but they are fascinating once you do.

Game play and hints for Xiama

To start the game, you must read the note left for you at the sign. Once you have left-clicked the note, you'll need to right-click return to the rainforest. Arrows will then appear in the lower right corner which represent the directions you can travel. (Hint: go right to your first puzzle in the game.) In this game left-clicking takes you into a scene, right-clicking takes you back out again.

You may want to take notes about what directions you have travelled. The game world isn't that big, but you might get frustrated trying to go back to a puzzle when you aren't sure where it is.

Check your progress after each puzzle is completed by using the tab key. The real reason for this is each puzzle has an associated 'sticky note' that is only temporarily in the book. The notes frequently explain a bit of the background of the puzzle or why it was included in the game. These notes give the game a more personal touch.

Gripes about Xiama

Just a few minor things. You can't save a location to pop back to the next time you play the game. A few puzzles have unrecognised alternate solutions. Also there is one puzzle which requires the keyboard for no obvious reason, which made me think the game had stalled at that point.

Conclusion for Xiama

What more can you ask for a good variety of puzzles and Waltzing Matilda to boot?

Some final thoughts on the game

Warning: you may learn something by the time you have finished this game. I had known about turtle logo back in the '80's but had never really played with anything like it.

How could I not play this game? I've been up to Alligator Creek, and I can at least recognise if not identify the local bird calls. I found the caves a bit odd, since there isn't a cave system but who expects 100% accuracy in a game.

While it is possible to have multiple books for different players, you need to read the FAQ on the CD to learn how to do it. And while parts of the Xiama website are on the CD, you'll have to go online to access the hints for the game. Hints include how to start solving a puzzle, and complete solutions for certain puzzles.