Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill & Lela
This excellent puzzle adventure game is a little treasure and we have enjoyed it more than any we have played since Jewels of the Oracle, which it reminds us of in many ways. The setting, although in the present, is every bit as exotic and fascinating, and the game itself is both extremely challenging and addictive. Created, produced and published entirely by Australian Peter Hewitt over a scant year's time, it is an outstanding example of what one talented man can accomplish with a great sense of beauty, a mischievous sense of fun, and time on his hands!
The mood is deceptively lighthearted (he won us over immediately with 'Waltzing Matilda'... turn on your speakers and refresh to hear it now) and the setting is breathtakingly beautiful: the Australian Rainforest in an area known as 'Alligator Creek Falls' in the National Park next to Peter's home. It is a 1st person 2D game, and you arrive on the scene for a trek through the park only to discover a note from Peter saying that he's gone on ahead. So you begin to wander around alone, down the various paths, to discover an extensive world (about 100 scenes) of unusual trees, rocks, caves, hidden waterfalls and streams ..... periodically punctuated with the ambient sounds of running water and exotic birds and animals.
The rainforest itself has been recreated by means of a series of smoothly integrated still photographs of exceptional quality, but the realistic cave system was drawn from Peter's imagination and doesn't actually exist within the park. Navigation is easy and is accomplished by simply clicking on arrows located in the lower right of the screen.
But solving puzzles is really what this game is all about, and it is the unusual nature of these puzzles which makes this game a winner. Around every bend in the road you are confronted with another puzzle to solve, either by something unexpected lying in your path or by one suddenly appearing when you innocently click on a strange formation or light. They range from easy enough for an older child to solve to so difficult that even a self-proclaimed expert will cry for mercy.
They are uniformly imaginative and original, some are educational, and (best of all) they're fun! Some have been created by taking a welcome fresh approach to old favorites, but there are many which we have not seen anywhere else. There are celestial and underwater puzzles; logic and reason puzzles; sight, sound, and memory puzzles; jigsaws, peg jumps, card games, word games, and much more (24 in all), including 3 very challenging so-called "turtle" puzzles on a virtual device once used to teach logic and geometry.
All are self-contained, requiring no other clues or inventory items. But all do require keen powers of observation since both the purpose and the method are discovered only through trial and error. Most can be solved in any order, although some are accessed only after others have been solved and the 24th puzzle is unavailable until all 23 others have been done.
Any success earns a score and one puzzle gives you bonus points for an alternate solution. Some must be completed for success, while others award points for a partial solution and you can go back later to try and beat your best score. But note that you cannot save in the middle of a puzzle and the puzzle may be different the next time you try it. Your game is saved into a book that can be accessed at any time to check your current score, and there are 8 such books available to allow multiple players with partial games under different names.
Success is rewarded with a happy trumpet fanfare and a personal 'post-it' note from Peter encouraging you on (a nice touch) and there is a brief story after the 24th puzzle. Just make sure you check the book immediately after solving each puzzle or the note will be gone. And be sure to also read the FAQs and other documentation on the CD before you start the game since it includes information that you will need while playing, and no other manual is provided. Additional information and hints may be found online at Peter's Xiama Website.
If you really enjoy a challenge, you're going to like this game. Use it to stretch your older children's thinking skills ..... and to keep your own brain cells young!
Developed (2000) by Peter Hewitt and Mulawa Dreaming
Minimum System Requirements: PC Only!
PC: 486; Windows 95 / 98 / 2000; DirectX 7.0a; DirectX 7.oa Compatible Video and Sound Card; CD ROM Drive
Where To Buy This Game:
Walkthroughs or Hints: