20000 Leagues Under The Sea logo

THIS purports to be a graphics oriented adventure. The first graphics you have to tackle take the form of the game protection. You have to identify two colours from a supplied grid. Yuk. Then the game starts – digitised sound of the wind whistling as the credits roll. Promising.

Unfortunately form then on it’s downhill all the way, beginning with the title page set against a hideous blue flashing background.

A newspaper page tells you that the good ship Abraham Lincoln is setting off in search of a deep sea monster. As the blurb indicates, the great French professor, Mr Aronnax, will be taking part in the expedition.

But before you can say Jaques Robinson, the ship is attacked and the bold searchers are incarcerated in Captain Nemo’s famous underwater vessel, the Nautilus.

The aim of the game is to record your fantastic journey in a log so posterity can enjoy your exploits. What this actually means is that you spend most of the time exploring the few rooms of the Nautilus.

There’s the control room, which houses the instruments and a periscope, the library – lots of books and an organ but nothing else of note – and the living room, which has a porthole, a map and more instruments.

There’s precious little else to do except point at a few objects and decide how to manipulate them. You could go underwater swimming. Or pop up on deck for fresh air when not submerged. Or perhaps even take a stroll on an island. Very boring – five windows of jungly vegetation and a small character who looks as if confinement on the Nautilus has made him stiff as an over-starched shirt.

Captain Nemo gets the huff with his visitors very easily, so they tend to spend a lot of the time locked up in their cabins. Never mind, there can always be another entry in the log: "An extremely interesting day".

And when the game ends prematurely with you have failed somewhere along the line, you’ll get a black screen with a few immortal words to let you know it’s all over. To rub salt in the wound, the program insists you go all through the copy protection routine again to restart.

The graphics showing the control room and library are pretty good, capturing the right tone and feel of the Nautilus. But the text is pathetic, even allowing for translation, and the gameplay is dire. Best place for this game is 20,000 leagues under the sea.

20000 Leagues Under The Sea logo

Coktel Vision
Price: £24.95

The ‘Abraham Lincoln’ had been sent on a mission to find the mysterious sea monster and you, Professor Annorax, were on board. Many days have passed without sight of anything, until one day a great force destroyed the ship.

Now you find yourself on board the Nautilus under the command of Captain Nemo. You decide to keep a record of your journey so that you may tell the world of new discoveries.

At the start of this dramatisation of Jules Verne’s classic you find yourself in the living room. This is your centre of operations and much information can be found out here. This is also where you keep the map on which you must try to plot your course from the vague hints that Nemo might give.

You can examine the manometer to get an indication of your depth and a speedometer is also available. In the centre of the wall is a large porthole. Opening this reveals an underwater scene that sometimes can give clues. From the living room you can move to the control room or the library.

The control room contains another porthole and the periscope for your use and sometimes you even get to control the Nautilus. The library is where (surprise, surprise) books are kept for your reference. You’ll also be able to dabble on Nemo’s organ.

Occasionally you may take trips outside (underwater or onto dry land) where clues may be found.

From the word go, the atmosphere created is sinister and mysterious which complements the game nicely. Everything is interwoven to create the desired effect and it works quite well. The game is well structured – just as you think that you’re stuck you find something that opens up new areas to you.

The graphics are excellent. Attention has been paid to detail in all displays. All the rooms are beautifully drawn, especially the living room and the library. The deck of the Nautilus is also good, featuring some nice animation for the sea. Apart from this, animation is limited to times when you are away from the Nautilus (shark-hunting or island searching).

Sound is adequate but, apart from the organ it’s quite limited.

I started to get into the game and was quite enjoying myself until the inevitable disaster struck and I opened a porthole whilst 100m under water. So, it was back to the start and I had to go through it all again – a save feature would have been nice.

It’s quite difficult to get into due to the totally inadequate instructions that leave you resorting to guess work. There are often very long gaps between anything interesting to do and this seriously detracts from the game.

The program was written by a French team and therefore has been translated into English. However, the translators missed the book titles in the library, they’re all still in French! The titles aren’t complex but it’s still awkward if you can’t parlez français.

Overall a very good game that is spoiled by long waits and the lack of a save option.