Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill and Lela
Capri is a small mediterranean island located off the coast of Italy that is famous for its scenery and grottoes, and is supported primarily by the tourist industry. And if that industry hasn't yet hired the guys who created this game, then they're missing a good bet. Because if ever a game showed off a place to advantage and enticed you to want to visit it, this one does.
It was produced by an apparently unlikely pair, a father and son, the one a designer of integrated circuits and the other an electrical engineer (see Laura MacDonald's interview). And the amount of work that they poured into it absolutely boggles the mind. There are thousands upon thousands of actual photographs of the island, both exteriors and interiors, not to even mention things like all of the historical research involved, or the highly detailed and interactive maps that they created for the game. But as a result you get the feeling that you could literally walk down every street on the island, and visit all of the shops, museums and restaurants.
An option for a walking tour only is available (with an invisible tour guide to tell you about various points of interest) and we highly recommend that you take it, prior to playing the game. It will not only allow you to soak in the marvelous atmosphere undistracted, it will also serve to familiarize you with the extensive, often confusing streets. Because once the game itself begins, you will have your hands full just trying to figure out exactly what has happened... and what, if anything, you can do about it!
The story is like something right out of 'The Twilight Zone'. The year is 2011, and you play a tourist who is visiting Capri for the first time. You have your camera, notebook, some money, a credit card, and your ticket for the ferry, and you've made a reservation at a local hotel. You arrive at the dock with a swarm of other tourists and find a taxi to take you to a parking area near the center of town, because cars are not allowed on the narrow streets past that point. You stop at a busy newsstand to ask for directions, pick up a map of the island, and finally manage to find your hotel. But just as you are about to enter, something very strange happens: your world suddenly disappears, and you are caught up in some kind of swirling vortex of multicolored light!
When it's all over, you are relieved to see that you are still standing in front of your hotel. But where have all the people gone? The noisy crowded streets are eerily quiet and empty. And now there's a sign on the door of your hotel saying that it's closed. What is going on?
Confused, you return to the now deserted newsstand to see if you can find out. But to your dismay, the friendly news lady who gave you directions only moments before, now tells you that the hotel has been closed for two years because of the war. What war? And even worse, she calls you by an unfamiliar name.
Apparently you are now Rafale, the town errand boy, and she hands you a newspaper to take to a customer. Perhaps it can shed some light on the situation. But what little you learn from it isn't very reassuring. You read that Capri is now a monarchy ruled by King Caprillo V, and is at war with someplace called the Republic of Anacapri; that some scientist has been kidnapped and his lab destroyed... and a very disturbing article about interdimensional communications!
Have you somehow been zapped into another dimension, some kind of parallel universe? And if so, how will you ever get back? Is there any way you can reverse the process? Or maybe keep it from ever happening in the first place?
This is a long, 1st Person, nonlinear, point & click game, with a smart cursor and a large, unlabeled inventory. It comes on 2 CDs but is played from only one, so there is no disc swapping. However, resolution must be set to 1024 x 768 each time you play.
The interface is somewhat unusual, but very well designed and easy to use, and clear instructions are included at the main menu. And you have a choice between Italian and English. However choosing English actually only gives you English signs and subtitles, because the characters themselves all speak their native Italian... a charming, authentic touch that we really liked. But note that we played the original European release of this game. So please read the important note below this review for the differences between this version and the later North American release.
The excellent photographs only occupy about 2/3 of the screen, because they are surrounded with a border that is used for translations, etc, and for keeping all of your action options within easy reach. And the photos are, of course, static and presented in slideshow fashion. But they are so sharply detailed and there are so many of them (seemingly a forward and back view from every public spot on the island) that you feel like you are really there, really walking down those narrow winding streets.
The town has an Old World charm, with tiny shops and colorful local residents, sun-drenched villas, and flowers absolutely everywhere! And the scenery truly is magnificent, with breathtaking vistas wherever you look. Lush sound effects add to the feeling of realism, with things like the church bells ringing, birds chirping and dogs barking, and the sound of the ocean waves. And the delightful original music enhances it all, with evocative individual compositions that are played only in certain areas for heightened effect. You'll fall in love with Capri.
But be forewarned. Although the feeling is relaxed and unhurried, this is not an easy game. It's a real challenge. The solution to your predicament is complex, and only gradually revealed. The puzzles are all logical and are clue and/or inventory based, but they all require deduction and get harder as you go along. And the nonlinear gaming area is huge, virtually the entire island, with needed items or clues apt to be found almost anywhere.
Fortunately for us, the game has several unique features that make things a little easier. The map shows where you are at any given moment and labels the places where you've talked to someone, and there's a 'Jump To' button for the 4 major areas. The scenes are all numbered for easier recordkeeping, and the notebook automatically records all conversation. And there's an absolutely indispensable 'Help' button that highlights all of the active areas.
Even so, you've still got to reason it all through, and put it together, and it becomes more difficult to do as you near the end. So you may have to refer to a walkthrough at times: we did. You can't die, but there are a couple of places, late in the game, where you can make a mistake and wind up trapped in Capri forever (dead ends). And there is one puzzle where you must not make any 'false steps' in order to get out of an area. Just make sure that you save often, so you can restore to an earlier position if necessary.
We do wish there had been more save slots (there are only 3) and a labeled inventory. Full screen graphics would have also been nice, but according to the developers that would have meant sacrificing the wonderful sense of realism in the game.
Everything that's important is all here. It's a beautiful and very challenging game. A game to take your time with... and savor!
© November 2003 Mr. Bill and Lela
Important Note: We played the original European release of the game. However, a North American version has now been published by Got Game Entertainment that is playable in English, as well as Italian and Italian with English subtitles. It also has 3 more save game slots and 3 more 'jump to' locations than the European release, and includes a 3rd CD for the soundtrack of the game's wonderful music.
Developed (2002) by Silvio & Gey Savarese. Published (2002) in Europe by Edizioni Oxiana and published (2004) in North America by Got Game Entertainment.
Rated: E for Everyone
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: 40 MHz Pentium I Processor (Pentium II Recommended); Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP; 64 MB RAM; CD-ROM Drive; 1024 x 768 Resolution, 16 Bit Color Graphics Card (32 Bit Color Recommended); Sound Card; 700 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Mouse and Keyboard
Where To Buy This Game:
The best chance for finding this game would be at used software places or auctions or trading sites. Our Places To Buy Games page may be able to assist you in finding a copy of this wonderful game.
Walkthroughs or Hints: