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Labyrinth of time logo  CD32

The CD32's first straight PC adventure conversion looks stunning, but does that hold true for the gameplay? Mark Patterson finds out.

Labyrinth of time W ith many of us, including me, still waiting to be really impressed by the CD32, I was keeping my fingers crossed that this would be the game to do it. I'd seen pics of the PC version and as this is supposed to be a direct port I was holding out for something special.
I did not get off to a good start though. On the box it says it is compatible with all Amigas, including CDTV and 1 Mb machines with a CD drive. I'm offended, this seems to be a lie as my poor old CDTV seized up at the first sniff of this game and, in fact, the only machine it will run on is the CD32. Which is not surprising when you look at the graphics.

The game's plot is a little bizarre, and is probably the produce of too many late nights and one too many, er, coffees. Daedalos, the bloke who designed the original Labyrinth for king Minos to hide his half-bull son from the clutches of the evil Ronaldium McDonaldus, has made a comeback. Being a bit of a clever brick, Daedalos' latest creation spans space-time to encompass all kinds of weird dimensions. Once it was completed he decided to try it out by popping over to our reality, kidnapping a junior accountant from 9:15 Luton to Kings Cross and dumping him right in his maze. He then proceeded to tell his bewildered and slightly travel sick captive that his only chance of escaping was to find the secret of the maze and destroy it.

As a PC CD-ROM conversion this is perfect, but then I didn't expect anything less. The 256-colour graphics are stunning, easily the best seen in an Amiga adventure. I don't know if it's my eyes packing in after staring at high-radiation Mac monitors for so long, but I swear the graphics flicker not as bad as the Amiga in HAM mode, but there's a noticeable twitch there all the same. But what really wound me up was the lack of action. Here you have all these lovely static screens, but with nothing happening on them. Once in a while a door might open, a you encounter Daedalos who does a great Captain Scarlet impression as he waves his arms around, but for the most part you are just looking at pretty pictures.

The CD32 is also a bit slow when it comes to accessing the graphics. Rather than show a transition between two locations, you have to wait a couple of seconds for the next screen to be loaded in. I mean, a little bit of animation as you walked down a corridor would have made a big difference. It can be very annoying when you've got to go through several locations in quick succession you wait for each one to be loaded in individually. Still, the screens are nice though...

For all its visual excellence, Labyrinth's playability has all the attraction of a decomposed corpse after a two-week swim in the Thames. The gameplay is quite loose, letting you travel to loads of locations without having to actually kick your brain into gear. When you decide to actually stop gawping at the graphics and start thinking about escaping from the Labyrinth, you find out just how weak the gameplay really is.

Puzzle solving is a simple case of trial and error. Which key fits which door? Will Object A release Object B so I can get through this door to solve even more similar puzzles? As the game contains somewhere in the region of 280 screens, it can take a fair while to solve even the most rudimentary problem, leaving you time to count the number of steps backwards the Labyrinth's programmers have taken when compared to recent games.
This is hindered by the lack of a decent user-interface. You have only got a few rudimentary commands at your disposal, such as pick up and drop, which severely limits the ways you can try and solve puzzles.
I don't want to rant, but old-fashioned text interface adventures offered far more scope for gameplay than this. And now with the trend of interactive characters and backdrops in games like Indiana Jones and most Sierra adventures, Labyrinth seems pathetically inadequate.

The real challenge behind the game is escaping from the labyrinth, which is quite a feat considering its size. Normally this would involve several yards of graph paper, a few pencils and an eraser, but for some strange reason the programmers have decided to include an auto-map feature. I am the first to admit that is it far more practical, especially for someone like me whose writing has to be read within four hours or be forever illegible, but it does seem to defeat the object of the game slightly. Every time you enter a new location the map is updated, so it is almost impossible to get lost. Combine that with the rather rudimentary puzzle solving and you get the impression that completing the game is matter of persistence over real adventuring skill.

If companies are going to do direct PC to CD32 conversions, why don't they choose good games? The forthcoming CD32 version of Simon The Sorcerer promises to be a significant event in Compact Disc adventures, but in the meantime I would not say no to conversions of excellent PC titles like Sam And Max and Day Of The Tentacle.
Don't be taken in by the pretty graphics and the promise of PC-style adventuring. Labyrinth Of Time may be like my milkman, slow, crusty and rarely delivers, but if you are an adventure-starved CD32 owner with cash to burn, you might want to overlook the faults, in which case you get a passable, if not that challenging, slice of surreal role-playing.

CU Amiga, March 1994, p.p.48-49

Life can be confusing in the Labyrinth, and a little scary for the weak-bladdered. Here is a taster of life on the other side...

Labyrinth of time

There you where, standing on platform four at Kings Cross, when all of a sudden, wham! Some 3000 year-old Greek geezer grabs you by throat and whisks you off to his maze.

Labyrinth of time

See the clown? Scary, isn't he? However, all the atmosphere is ruined by the completely rubbish digitised laughter he emits. You will definitely turn the volume down when you hear it.

Labyrinth of time

Explore a bit further and you will find yourself in a mirror maze. This is obviously the section where the artists were a bit bored, as most of the screens look the same. What a rip-off.

Labyrinth of time

You are making some progress now, there is just another 275 screens to go. It is worth sticking with at as the graphics later on are just totally amazing.

EA 39.99


A significant release for the CD32. Shame it is not very good.