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( Lotus Spring )

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

Emperor Xian Feng and Lotus SpringAlthough this game is being promoted as a 'woman's story', we both thoroughly enjoyed it for two reasons. First of all we love gardens, and this game is the carefully researched virtual recreation of one of the most famous gardens in all of history. We could have simply wandered through it for hours, looking at the flowers and trees, wonderful wildlife, and landscape design. As a matter of fact, after we finished the game we did just that. Secondly, without appearing to be educational the game gave us a real feel for Chinese culture, tradition and art that we heretofore had been lacking. We feel enriched in both understanding and appreciation and, for this reason, we would recommend it to anyone, and especially to those of Asian heritage: it is a national treasure.

Yuan Ming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness)The setting is history's most magnificent garden, Yuan Ming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness) outside of Beijing, China, which took 6 generations of Qing Emperors over 150 years to build and spanned about 900 acres, with a fairyland of hills, ponds, lakes, ancient trees and palaces, filled with one and half centuries of imperial treasure collecting. Tragically, it was burned to the ground, lost forever, in the autumn of 1860.

The romantic story or legend, which takes place shortly before this date, is also tragic. The Qing Emperors (the last feudal dynasty of China) were Mongol rulers who had conquered China and ousted the existing Ming dynasty, who were of the Chinese Han people. The Mongol Qing Emperors set up rule from the Forbidden City (the Imperial complex) in Beijing. An Emperor was allowed and expected to have many concubines, any one of which might be made Empress. But, because the Qing conquerors feared that intermingling with the conquered but more numerous Chinese Han people might result in the loss of their power, one thing was strictly forbidden by Law from the beginning: no Emperor could have a Han girl in the Forbidden City; none could be a concubine or become Empress. But the Han girls were very beautiful.....

Qing Emperor Xian Feng fell deeply in love with a Han girl, whom he named 'Lotus Spring': he hid her away in the Garden and there they whiled away their days of love. But the Empress found out about it and, with the law on her side, had Lotus Spring imprisoned and isolated. Dying of loneliness and a broken heart, Lotus Spring has apparently committed suicide. As our story begins, Xian Feng, hearing of the tragedy, has gone to the Garden to try to recapture and relive their love, and to try to make some sense of and understand what really happened.....but what he discovers there is the true beauty, mystery and magic of eternal love.

Although set up like an adventure game, with a small inventory and puzzles to solve, the game is primarily an interactive evolving story of a romantic legend. As you visit the various locations and examine artifacts or solve a puzzle, you unravel one more chapter in the story. You trigger a video vignette of the past and one more section is completed in your Diary. When a section of the Diary is completed you can (and should) pause to either read it or have it read to you (a nice option), as it adds so much to what you have seen. But, for this reason, please note that we feel that this is one game that would be enjoyed more using a Walkthrough (or at least a list of the order in which the locations should be visited) in order to fully appreciate and understand the unfolding story.

Developed (1998, 2000) by Xing Xing Computer Graphics (Visit their website for a more detailed look at the beautiful gardens.).  Published (2000) by Women Wise and distributed by DreamCatcher Interactive.

Minimum System Requirements: Hybrid Win / Mac CD ROMs! (Hybrid means PC and MAC versions are on the same CDs.)

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Hints" available here!

"Walkthrough" available here!

Mr. Bill's   Adventureland
Copyright  February 2000
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