Price: £24.95 disk
I t was with great disappointment that I discovered U.S. Gold’s game was not an adaptation of the superbly camp film. No Doug McClure. No Peter Cushing. If it wasn’t for the fact they told me it had pterodactyls in it, I would’ve been too disheartened to boot it up. The game itself comes on two disks and there is the usual disk-swapping palaver to get going, but to give it its due it is reasonably swift to load up, unlike some other two disk games I could mention.
The first thing you have to do is to choose a character from one of four eminent scientists. Your choice will, I am assured, have a discernable effect on your physical and mental qualities. You will have to trust them on that one, I did not detect any major differences.
From there it sis up to the volcano Sneffels to begin your little outing. Flimsy scenario certainly is not this game’s weak point. It does after all have the Jules Verne novel to draw on. The introduction is a captivating series of screens in the classic adventure mode. The first mini arcade sequence is nice to look at but dull.
Into the game, and you are confronted with a screen which looks uncannily like the side of a sauna with its little dials and wooden panelling. This is what you are going to be staring at for most of the game, so you would better get used to it. When you have chosen a compass direction a little text box pops up and tells you about the scenery and if anything happens to you. This usually seems to be either a sprained ankle or a bite from a bat, or variations on them. Fortunately you can repair their minor injuries with the aid of your trusty medical bag.
In trying to combine action and adventure, the programmers, CHIP, have managed to combine the worst of both worlds: the tedium potential of adventure and the vacuity of the arcade. It is very nicely done, but I am afraid that Journey to the center of the Earth is boring. Something which the book never was.
Screens illustrating your surroundings are few and far between and the arcade games become repetitive. One to look forward to is the stampede of mammoths. Trying to avoid them is like trying to cross the M25 with a blindfold on. Being hit by a mammoth at full pelt (no pun here surely? Ed) is not something I would expect anyone to get up from, least of all your ageing scientist. Yet, the old man with the sprained ankles will. In fact only if you are hit half-a-dozen times, does a little text box appear telling you have been bitten by a bat. But life is like that isn’t it? You survive being trampled to death by a rampaging herd of mammoths only to die soon after from a chronically sprained wrist. It is simply not fair and neither is Journey to the center of the Earth. It should have been good, but it isn’t really.
CU Amiga, May 1989, p.46
Rainbow Arts/US Gold, C64 £9.99 cass, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99
he time is the late 19th century. After many months of being feared missing, a group of explorers, led by the eminent Professor Lidenbrock, return to civilisation. In hordes of bustling pressmen, they relay to the world that they have just returned from a quest to a completely new country.
What makes their story so difficult to believe is their claim that this country does not exist on the Earth but lies inside its very core. Of course, being the cynical bunch that humans are, their story is dismissed as lies. Well, would you believe it? Erm... well you would actually. 'Cos this is the bit where you come in.
You see, a handful of people have speculated for some time that such a kingdom actually exists. You (probably because a brick fell on your head when you were six) are one of these people. Approaching Lidenbrock, you put to him the proposition of returning to this underground world with you in tow. After some hesitation, he actually agrees, and begins preparation for the journey. The date of the expedition arrives, and you set off for Iceland, and the volcanic mountain Sneffles (Sneffles?), where the quest is to begin. The game starts here.
Choosing one of four characters, you descend into the volcano and, with the aid of a map left by a previous explorer, enter the depths of the Earth's core. There's danger everywhere – rockfalls, stampeding mammoths and vicious pterodactyls (no relation to our own Herman, of course). Action sequences which involve dodging and avoiding these dangers intersperse an analysis screen. Direction arrows let you explore the surrounding area (info come back in messages – you don't get to see anything) and you can adjust your daily food and water supplies, use your first aid kit, set sleeping times and make use of rock analysing equipment vital in plotting you course further into the Earth's crust.
Success in your journey will lead to untold fame and riches. Failure will mean death, thousands of feet below ground. And we don't want that now, do we Eric?
Zzap, Issue 49, May 1989, p.74