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Whale's Voyage logo

Dieser Tage feiert Neo Software Design den Einzug ins gelobte Amiga-Land - und damit gleichzeitig ein zünftiges SF-Rollenspiel seine kosmische Premiere. Doch keine Feier ohne Meier, und ohne Joker schon gar nicht...

Whale's Voyage Also warfen wir unsere Zeitmaschine an und düsen ins 24 Jahrhundert, um den Abenteuern eines futuristischen Raumfrachters (nämlich der "Whale") und seiner vierköpfigen Besatzung beizuwohnen. Das Spediteurs-Quartett hat sich nämlich gerade mit letzter finanzieller Kraft den betagten Transporter zugelegt und möchte nun möglichst schnell reich und berühmt werden!

Aber wir greifen vor, weil das erste Problem darin besteht, die vier Helden durch Kombination von fünf potentiellen Vätern mit fünf potentiellen Müttern überhaupt ins Leben zu rufen. Dass dabei auch zwei Alien-Eltern mit von der Partie sind, kann den echten Kloner kaum stören, dass das Geschlecht zufällig ermittelt wird, ist im wirklichen Leben auch nicht viel anders. Und dass das Produkt der Mühen durch den Besuch von diversen Grundschulen und Unis je nach seinen Fähigkeiten auf den Ernst des Lebens vorbereitet wird (etwa als Arzt, Kämpfer oder Mönch), ist wirklich ein netter Einfall.

Reich und berühmt werden die Jungs und Mädels trotzdem nicht so schnell, geht es doch zunächst darum, auf dem Startplaneten ein bisschen Kohle zu machen, um danach zwischen den acht Welten eines abseits gelegenen Sonnensystem zu pendeln und das verdiente Geld in die Ausrüstung den Wals zu investieren. Mit "Elite" hat die Sache dennoch nur am Rande zu tun, weil zum einen die Space-Fights bloß auf einem strategischen Kästchen-Screen ausgefochten werden, und zum andren der Hauptteil des Games ganz rollimäßig aus 3D-Dungeons, verwinkelten Städten, Multiple Choice-Gesprächen mit über 80 NPCs, Echtzeit-Kämpfen, vielen Mini-Quests, Wilderness-Erforschungen per Gleiter sowie sonstigen Problemen und Rätseln besteht. Der Schwerpunkt liegt also nicht unbedingt bei den Auseinandersetzungen, wofür auch spricht, dass man den Hauptdarstellern auf den Planeten diverse Aufgaben fix zuweisen kann (etwas Fallen finden, Handel treiben etc.), die natürlich möglichst geschickt der jeweiligen Situation angepaßt werden sollten.

Nicht ganz so geschickt ist leider die Steuerung ausgefallen, denn mit Blick auf den Konsolenmarkt gaben die Neos dem Stick den Vorzug. Maus-Dompteure müssen im Umgang mit dem Knüppel ein erhebliches Maß an Einfühlungsvermögen aufbringen aufbringen, oder sie weichen gleich auf das ohnehin besser funktionierende Keyboard aus. Zum Trost sei eine abwechslungsreiche Optik vermeldet, das qualitative Spektrum reicht dabei von "Na ja" bis "Klasse". Und die vielfältigen, stilistisch unterschiedlichen Soundtracks gefallen neben den netten FX sogar ausgesprochen gut! Noch schnell ein abschließender Blick auf das Joker-Testometer: "Gelungener Erstling". Na, wer sagt es denn - herzliche Glückwünsche nach Österreich... (jn)

Amiga Joker, March 1993, p.44

WHALE'S VOYAGE
(NEO SOFTWARE DESIGN)
SF - ROLLENSPIEL
74%
"ÜBERZEUGEND"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
66%
61%
82%
71%
60%
78%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 99,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
AB 1 MB
7/JA
JA
SPIELSTÄNDE
KOMPLETT


Whale's Voyage AGA logo  AGA

Y Whale's Voyage AGA ou have been left stranded and penniless in an ill-equipped spaceship above one of the most lawless planets in the solar system. You only have one choice – beam down to Castra or die.

Whale’s Voyage is a space role playing game (RPG) which places you in command of four adventurers and their quest for wealth, fame and happiness. The action takes place in both 2D and 3D modes and bears more than a passing resemblance to more traditional RPG epics like Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder 2.

The original Amiga version of Whale’s Voyage looked great, but suffered from cumbersome joystick and keyboard controls – all too often you would find yourself getting blasted to death by a gang of thugs while you were still trying to access the Combat menu. Unfortunately, the enhanced A1200 version does nothing to rectify this and you are left with a few graphical enhancements and some atmospheric sound effects to spice up the gameplay.

Even if you do overlook the game’s shortcomings you are still likely to be disappointed – there are only six planets for you to explore and Whale’s Voyage lacks the depth and sense of involvement found in other space adventures like BAT 2.
Rob Mead

Amiga Format, Issue 52, p.78

WHALE’S
VOYAGE
PROGRAMMERS
NEO Software
PUBLISHER
Flair 0836 327134
PRICE
£29.99
RELEASED
Out now

Whale’s Voyage AGA is hard disk installable

75%


Der Turbo-Wal

Whale's Voyage AGA logo  AGA

Unverhofft kommt tatsächlich oft - zumindest fanden wir diese alte Weisheit wieder eindeutig bestätigt, als uns die Überraschung kürzlich in Form eines Briefleins aus dem lieblichen Österreich ereilte...

Whale's Voyage AGA - Amiga 1200 only Von gierigen Tentakeln aufgerissen, enthüllte der Umschlag nämlich eine spezielle 1200er-Version des Weltraum-Handels-Rollenspiels von Neo Software Design - und das, obwohl der Test der Regular-Fassung erst zwei Ausgaben zurückliegt! Jetzt wollt Ihr sicher wissen, was sich geändert hat, stimmt's? Schön, aber dazu mussen wir Euch erst nochmal kurz erklären, um was es hier geht und ging:

Nachdem man die vier Besitzer des älternden Raumfrächters "Whale" im komplexen Party-Bastelset zusammengeklont hat, geht's daran, den Kontostand des Eigner-Quartetts durch Erledigung von kleinen Gefälligkeiten oder Transport von lohnenden Gutern aufzubessern. Ist erstmal genugend Kohle beisammen, darf man seine Vakuum-Rost laube besser ausrusten, was auch für die taktischen 2D- Kampfe mit Piraten von Nützen ist. Vor allem aber geht es darum, im 3D-Part ein abseits gelegenes Sonnensystem mit acht Planeten systematisch zu erforschen, in Rolli-Manier durch Städte-Dungeons zu schleichen, Items einzusacken, über 80 eigenstandige NPCs auszuhörchen, Klein-Aufträge von ihnen anzunehmen und mit ihnen zu kämpfen.

Bei alldem fallt sofort das gesteigerte Tempo im Gameplay sowie beim Nachladen und Saven auf, während die Änderungen in der Optik sich auf einige zusätzliche Zwischenscreens beschränken. Die Musik klingt nach wie vor toll, die FX sogar etwas vollmundiger, und die unverändert umständliche Stick-Steuerung führt erneut zu Abzugen in der B-Note. Fazit: Es lebe der kleine Unterschied! (jn)

Amiga Joker, May 1993, p.92

WHALE'S VOYAGE
(NEO SOFTWARE DESIGN)
SF – ROLLENSPIEL
75%
"FLOTT"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
68%
61%
82%
73%
62%
78%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 99,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
2 MB
7/JA
JA
SPIELSTÄNDE
KOMPLETT


Whale's Voyage AGA logo  AGA

Paul Presley spent his childhood summers in places like Liandudno, Towyn and Rhyl, so he seemed the perfect person to mis-read the title of Flair's latest.

L Whale's Voyage AGA et's see, how do you best describe Whale's Voyage? Hmm, take Elite. Now take all the bits that made Elite good (the three-dimensional space flights and the nail-biting combat) and throw them out. Next reduce the hundreds of visitable planets to a total of six and add a substandard Eye of the Beholder routine to simulate planet exploring. Hey presto, Whale's Voyage. And boy does it flounder.

Games like this really irritate me and I'll tell you why. You can just picture the design meetings - four or five guys and gals sat around a pub table (or Biergarten since this was made in Austria) discussing their next project. 'Hey', says one, 'let's do an Elite. You know space travel, trading, combat. It'll be great (or zoo-per, as I believe is a popular phrase in fashionable quarters of Vienna)'. Unfortunately no one has the heart to tell these people that you can't do an Elite as Elite was the quintessential space game and the only way you can cover it is if your name is David Braben since then people won't think you're just ripping it off. The other thing is that if you are going to go ahead and do a cover version anyway, you have to make sure that what you produce is not only bigger, but better than the original in the first place. Whale's Voyage fails on both counts so it's right up a certain creek without a certain instrument before it starts.

GOING DOWNTOWN
It has a brave stab at being innovative, but sadly its blade of choice is as sharp as wet celery. You don't just control one character at a time but four, treating you to a more typical role-playing game environment when you venture down to a planet's surface. You know the form (or at least you should by now), first-person flick screening around the local town, bumping into wandering locals and exploring the various shops (none of which sell anything except trading goods).

Now this might have been quite good, after all Elite never went near the surface did it? Unfortunately in the same way that the space bit of it failed to capture any of Elite's good points, the role-playing element fails to deliver. The control system is one of the most unwieldy I've ever encountered. For example, to hit someone you first have to access the relevant character's icon menu, then you choose the Select Person icon, then you select which computer controlled person to hit, then you re-access the character's icon menu and select the attack icon. And just because you selected the opponent with one character, don't think you've done it for everyone. Each time a different member of your party wants to hit someone they have to go through the whole process of 'selecting' all over again. If nothing else it encourages peaceful contact with whoever you meet.

IS IT ANY GOOD?
But surely, you ask, there must be something good to say about Whale's Voyage. No game is 100 percent drop dead awful, is it? Well, the graphics are pretty good (especially involving your ship) and the character creation technique is, well, different (see Parenthood panel). Perhaps the most positive things about Whale's Voyage is the way each character has a unique set of icons in any given situation. What the character can do changes depending on his profession, his skills and the situation in hand. It's a feature that's only marred by the awkwardness of the control system itself.

Apart from that, no. I can find precious little else to recommend about Whale's Voyage. There's hardly anything in the way you would call addictiveness and it certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the Austrian games market. What it does do is present a damn strong argument in favour of waiting for Elite 2 to come along.

TRULY INDIFFERENT
It is hard, truly hard to convey how much indifference Whale's Voyage invokes in me. I have not the inclination to persevere with it nor the desire to see what lies ahead. I have nor real reason to loathe the thing, but there is nothing about it worth praising. It's like a big league football manager seeing a young lad kicking a ball around in the park and thinking 'That kid reminds me a bit of a young George Best. Maybe he's got talent', only to sign him up for the clash against Big Town United and watch him stand around at the back doing nothing. It's really got nothing going for it and I can't help but feel sorry for it. Or at least I would if it could make me bothered about it, which it can't.

CU Amiga, August 1993, p.p.64-65

FLY ME TO THE MOON(S)
Have you ever seen the cockpit of a space shuttle? There are buttons, switches, lights and dials everywhere. On the walls, on the floor, on the ceiling, there's probably some in the toilet compartments too (but that's just an excuse for a cheap laugh so I won't mention it). Oh how I bet those brave pioneers of the final frontier long for the kind of control system seen in the Whale. You just pick your planet and press a single button to go there. No controls, no joysticks, no messing around with altitude adjustments and speed corrections. Just a single, solitary button.
Actually the Planet Selection screens do contain some of the finest graphics in the game, even if they're just life-sustaining, solar orbiting spheroids (planets to you and me, bub). Pick a planet and you also get a handy little description of what life is like there. It's all rather jolly, but with only six planets, sadly short-lived.

PARENTHOOD
While not the most comprehensive of character generation systems ever seen, the development section of Whale's Voyage is certainly... unique. After all, what other RPGs let you pick the parents of the child, mutate him after birth, then send him through school and college?

[1] First choose the parents. All you actually get to do is select what the father and mother look like from the five choices at the top of the screen. As to their personalities and skills, it's all up to fate. It'll be interesting trying to get that nice young blonde to mate with that slime creature from the planet Ooze though.
[2] Next, with the potential sprog's mom and pop sorted out, you get to mess around with its genes. Add a bit to its physical prowess, just a touch more intelligence and maybe a dash more social awareness. Well, it's better than leaving it all to fate and ending up with a young conservative on your hands.
[3] Ah, school. The best days of your life (except the bits when you're being beaten up, robbed of dinner money and being rejected by girls). As far as the game is concerned (and leaving my private life out of it), the type of school you choose determines your eventual skills.
[4] After school comes college and all the excitement of stimulating intellectual challenges, long-term career plans and your first 'serious' relationships with the opposite sex (i.e. kissing with tongues). This is also where you determine your character's profession.

A TRADE-OFF
The buying and selling of goods (what we professionals call 'trading') plays a major part in the game (more major than you hopefully will). As with Elite you can buy and sell your wares while in orbit of the planet, but for the best prices it's usually better to trek down to the planet and talk to the dealers here.

FLAIR SOFTWARE £29.99
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
FLAIR SOTWARE LTD., THE SMITHY SIDE, PONTELAND, NEWCASTLE NE20 9BDTEL: 0661 860260
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
OUT NOW
RPG/STRATEGY
NEO SOFTWARE
M/J/K
6
1
YES
1Mb
 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY

70%
50%
45%
40%
A sub-standard space sim. Roll on Elite 2... quickly!
OVERALL: 45%



Whale's Voyage CD32 logo  CD32

Flair Software * £29.99 * Out now
All aboard the SS Whale for a 24th Century adventure in space. You are in charge of a crew orbiting around the planet Castra who have not got a red cent to oil their gizzard (never mind the cost of a can of GTX). So with no money or fuel, you have to beam down on to the planet to seek some readies.

Whale’s Voyage is a futuristic RPG with elements of exploration, trading and combat. You can either load preset characters or make up the personalities yourself, though the former is the easier option. Once you arrive on Castra, you find your way around the planet by using a built-in automap which comes in very handy. The planet is not the friendliest place and muggings and other inconveniences are quite common. But if you help someone in trouble, you get a reward which can be saved in case you need a favour later on in the game, or you can swap it for cash.

Whale’s Voyage is a huge game and although initially it seems rather complicated and daunting, it is original and playable.
Stephen Bradley

81%

Amiga Format, Issue 56, February 1994, p.67


Whale's Voyage CD32 logo  CD32

Bei Neo hat man das SF-Rollenspiel für die Silberscheibe gehörig aufgemotzt: Das Intro klotzt jetzt mit phantastischen Bildern, im Spiel gibt es CD-Musik und massig deutsche Sprachausgabe, aber kaum grafische Verbesserungen. Dafür geht die Pad-Steuerung in Ordnung, der Umgang mit Speicherständen wurde sogar genial gelöst. Für 79,- DM also eine feine sache - 78 Prozent. (rl)

Amiga Joker, December 1993, p.83


Whale's Voyage CD32 logo  CD32

Flair £25.99

Full marks to Flair – they are certainly making the effort to get the CD32 off to a good start, software support wise. Sadly, though, this kind of thing is not going to get the punters flocking to their local Dixons by the thousand – it is a pretty uninspired Dungeon Master-ish RPG type of thing, with a forbiddingly tedious start that demands huge willpower exertions at the beginning if you are ever going to get into the game properly, and which are not really worth it.

It is a very sophisticated and complex game, but there is nothing in it that has not been done better before elsewhere, and the addition of all the CD music and impressive voice soundtracks in the world won’t change that.
STUART CAMPBELL

Amiga Power, Issue 33, January 1994, p.99

THE BOTTOM LINE
CD32 Was not very exciting on the Amiga, and is not really any better on the CD32. Still, if you are looking for something to play on your CD32 that is not a pinball or platform game, er, this is it.
55
P E R C E N T