Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill & Lela
Ever so often someone asks us for help on one of the old games, and in the process of answering their questions, we become so intrigued with the game that we wind up playing it ourselves. This is one of those games. It's a DOS game, so of course the first adventure was trying to get it to run on our Windows 98 system! But by the time we had that figured out (more or less), we were so captivated by the unique story and the fiendishly intricate puzzles that we had to finish it.
It's an old 1993 Sierra game which was produced by Coktel Vision, the award winning French company that gave us Woodruff and the Schnibble among others, and it's hard to find today. But if you can find it, and manage to get it to run on your newer computer, we feel sure that you will enjoy it. It is considered by many to be a 'classic': one of that small handful of games which marked a turning point in the computer gaming industry, and set a new standard of excellence by which later games were measured.
Among other things, the game has an engrossing story that includes not only time travel, but also some issues not usually found in an adventure game, like slavery and mixed ancestry. In it you play Doralice, a beautiful young contemporary French woman who has just inherited some property from an unknown relative. It's an impressive seaside estate that includes a mansion and lighthouse, with the remains of an old Spanish galleon shipwrecked on the dangerous rocks in the harbor nearby. But as you begin to explore the manor house for the first time, you suddenly come upon a shadowy figure. Startled, he quickly disappears down a dark passageway, and you follow ..... only to lose consciousness as you do.
You awaken dazed and confused in the bowels of that selfsame ship that you saw wrecked in the harbor, only now the year is 1840 and the ship is on the high seas! And to make matters even more confusing, you soon discover that the ship's other 'cargo' includes 2 captives: a doomed 1840's black slave in chains, and a secret agent of the 'time police' from the year 2092 ..... as well as a strange, glowing, ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. But that last discovery seals your own doom, for now the evil owner of the ship intends to ensure your silence by destroying your ancestors. Will you be able to stop him before he erases your very existence?
This is a 2D, 1st person, point & click game, with a smart cursor, inventory, and a map for instant travel. All options are conveniently located in a hidden icon bar at the top of the screen, and there are 30 save game slots. Subtitles are provided during gameplay, but unfortunately are not in the 3rd person videos where most of the story unfolds. However an onboard diary is included which automatically records the most pertinent information and conversations (as well as providing a place for you to type your own notes, if desired), and it can be reviewed at any time.
The game was originally billed as an 'interactive adventure movie' because it contains so many videos, and although the translation from the French suffers at times, the actors do add much realism to the story. The varied and colorful background graphics were all handpainted by a renowned comic strip artist, with more than 30 scenes in France and the Caribbean. And the music of the stereo soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, a delight to listen to all by itself.
But what really makes this game stand out from the crowd is the unusual nature of its many puzzles. Does anybody out there remember a popular old TV show called 'MacGyver'? He was fascinating to watch because no matter how dire the situation, he always managed to solve the problem by his creative and yet logical use of common everyday objects. Well, the French developers of this game must have also been big fans of that show, because many of their brilliant and original puzzles are just like that. And as a result they are a lot of fun to do, although some of them can turn out to be a real challenge and you may need a walkthrough. Especially if you jump to conclusions and assume that you already know the answer, as we did once or twice. None are really all that difficult, it's just that you must use common sense and really think things through to solve them.
So as you can see, this game was way ahead of its time in many ways, and if you can get it to run, it's still well worth playing today. We certainly did enjoy it.
NOTE: This game requires the use of a patch found on the game CD, and can be installed and played in both Windows 95 and 98 using the MS-DOS Prompt. It was also necessary for us to select the Adlib Sound Card (in the game's setup screen) and give up the sound effects in order to get the voice and videos to run properly. For details on getting this game to run, see below.
Developed (1993) by Coktel Vision and published by Sierra On-Line.
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: 386 16 MHz Processor; DOS 5.0 or Above; 2 MB RAM; CD-ROM Drive; VGA Graphics Card; Supports Sound Blaster, Adlib, Pro Audio and CD Audio Sound Cards; 18 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Mouse
Where To Buy This Game:
OR: See our Places To Buy Games for other sellers around the world.
Walkthroughs or Hints:
How To Get This Game To Run:
First use the Patch found on the CD. It basically replaces the Lost.exe file with a new one.
When using Windows 95 or 98, install and play the game under the MS-DOS Prompt (Start, Programs, MS-DOS Prompt). After installation but before beginning to play the game create a PIF file.
How To Create A PIF File Using Windows Explorer: