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Journey to the center of the Earth logo

U.S. Gold
Price: £24.95 disk

Journey to the center of the Earth 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.

Journey to the center of the Earth 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.

Mark Heley

CU Amiga, May 1989, p.46


Journey to the center of the Earth logo

Rainbow Arts/US Gold, C64 £9.99 cass, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Journey to the center of the Earth T 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. Bet you didn't think I could stretch this far! 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.

Thing: Where is James Mason now? 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. Rockford: He's with Den Watts! 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.

Ken D Fish: Where? Rio? 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

Gordo Most of this fantastic journey is just spent staring at a basic map and when one of the sub-games does decide to appear, it's just a case of dodging left or right to avoid the oncoming 'perils'. At least the Amiga game looks and sounds nice... Of course no one expects the 64 to match up to that, but that's no excuse for gaudy colours, blobby sprites and abysmal sound effects. What hammers the final nail in the 64 coffin is the horrendous multiload. Brilliant idea that – to load in each message for every room separately! I really enjoy spending 50% of my playing time waiting for the disk (Irony warning).

Kati Aaargh! It's Around The World In 80 Days come back to bore me to death! Eeek! Just when you thought it was safe to come back out of the cupboard, they've come up with another of these interesting-sounding exploration games. Thing is, that's all they do sound interesting. When you actually get down to it, all there is to the magical underground journey is a bit of dodging, a bit of watching a static screen and (on the 64) ages waiting for a really mind-numbing multiload. If you really want to the Earth's core, get a shovel and start digging – it'll be a lot more fun.

Randy While the Amiga version of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth abounds with very good digitised stills of caverns, as well as a generous smattering of effective sampled sound effects, the C64's game is a mixture of really weird blobs of colour and basic sound. What the two programs do have in common, though, is the gameplay. There just aren't any long-term lasting qualities here. The majority of the game is spent pressing one of the direction arrows, hearing some footsteps, and reading about the surrounding area. Hardly epic material, is it?

64   AMIGA
Simple to use icons and basic controls in the sub-games. Both versions have poor multiloads – the 64's being easily the worse of the two.
23% GRAPHICS 49%
While the Amiga has some pleasant digitised pictures, the C64 version is a mass of strange shapes and colours. Arcade sequences in both games are poorly defined and animated.
28% SOUND 48%
Sampled effects on the Amiga, but disappointingly basic sounds on the 64.
Both versions are easy enough to get into, although the 64's loader will put many off from the beginning.
Boredom soon creeps in, because there's practically nothing to do.
20% OVERALL 36%
A poor attempt at transforming an unusual subject into a computer game. It doesn't come off.