Square up to the Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Project logo

MIRRORSOFT's latest Amiga adventure sets the scene among sun-drenched islands to the north of the Caribbean. The sort of place you might expect to find cricket, good fishing and friendly people. It is also the location of one of the most mysterious puzzles of modern times - the Bermuda Triangle, an area of nearly three quarters of a million square miles between Florida, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.

In the Bermuda Project you play the part of Bill Benson, a top reporter for the New York Star and Herald on three months special leave to investigate a spate of disappearances within the infamous Triangle. It has never been far from the front page since a flight of American Naval planes vanished without a trace in 1945. Many planes and ships have gone missing. Each time the complete absence of bodies or wreckage has fueled speculation of everything from instant mini-hurricanes to extra-terrestrial intervention.

Bill's intentions are to interview as many people as possible who might have first hand experiences of any strange happenings. He charters a plane and sets off to get the initial background information he needs. While flying across the triangle his plane is hit by lightning and crash lands on an unknown island. This is the start of the adventure. You have to guide Bill through a number of puzzles, explore the island and escape back to civilization. The plot is stereotyped and the puzzles unoriginal but the implementation is novel and makes the game fun.

The display uses full screen scrolling to show where Bill is on the island. Everything is controlled with the mouse - no text is entered. If you see something of interest manoeuvre Bill up to the object and press the right hand button. Keep it pressed to display an action menu.

Drag the mouse down to highlight an action and activate it by pressing the left hand button. This will either produce a text response or a further object menu.

Initially this is a little fiddly, as premature release of a button loses either the menu or the information you need to read. Give it 20 minutes or so to become accustomed to the technique.

MOVING Bill around with the mouse can prove frustrating and although it did not stop me from solving the puzzles, I found the drunken movements I imparted to a him a little annoying. The action menu has been simplified to just six commands - examine, get, drop, use, attach, detach and options. This may well irritate the purist who would demand that we "pour petrol from fuel can into fuel tank" rather than "use fuel can on fuel cap".

In practice the multifarious use of "use" becomes second nature and completely negates that horrendous search for the right word or sequence of words that can so often upset the flow of a game.

The option menu provides the expected save/load game position, restart game and status - which gives a percentage score and perhaps a clue on what is needed next.

The initial scene finds Bill standing next to the crashed plane. The pilot is dead and the plane on fire. It is imperative to put out the flames quickly. If left to burn out, the hatch will warp and you will not be able to get a vital piece of equipment from inside. There are several times in the adventure where quickness of action becomes important. Failure to complete the right actions will result in death.

In classic adventure style, there are puzzles to be solved before you can get past the river to the east or the stockade fence to the north. Once across the river, you will find one of the recently missing planes. Your task is now clear: you must find and rescue the six passengers with the pilot to escape. The island is large, with plenty to explore. Each passenger is held by different groups of natives and poses a separate puzzle for you to solve.

The atmosphere and tension are maintained throughout the adventure even though the story line becomes a little stretched by what you meet on your travels. Be prepared for everything from hi-tech cavemen, voodoo cults and cannibals to Inca pyramids, pirate ships and Red Indians.

There are quite a few object to find most of which but not all, are useful. You can only carry a limited number in your backpack. Remember where you have left things, as some items are used more than once. Try not to run out of petrol while driving the jeep and you will need it to supply electricity later.

If Bermuda Project were text only it would probably be very run-of-the-mill. The graphics and simplified mouse command change it into an entertaining game that most will enjoy.

Bermuda Project logo

Price: £24.99

The Bermuda Triangle is a place that is shrouded in mystery. For many years there have been incidents of aeroplanes and boats suddenly disappearing from the area that stretches from Bermuda to the Virgin Islands and Florida.

The Bermuda Project begins with an OTT opening sequence in which a large cargo plane is shown flying over the Bermuda Triangle. As it does so, it is struck by a freak bolt of lightning and the plane makes a crash landing on an island slap-bang in the middle. This is where the game begins.

As the only survivor of the crash, you awaken after a spell of unconsciousness to find the plane unsurprisingly wrecked, the pilot dead in his chair, and parts of the plane's carcass beginning to burn. Obviously what you want to do is get off this island, so you set about finding a means to do so.

The game is presented in a very similar way to MicroIllusion's Faery Tale Adventure. Your character, the guy with the rucksack, stays pretty much in the centre of the screen while the scenery scrolls around him. The first thing you'll want to do before you go off searching the island is to search the wreckage of the plane, and this is done by using a set of Spellbound type window menus. Options such s Get, Drop, Examine, Attach and Detach are all available from here.

Close inspection of the plane will reveal a radio, which you can take and then proceed to explore the island, which is when you first begin to realise how dull this game really is. The island itself is not particularly large, and very drab in detail, so you'll find yourself wandering around aimlessly from one coast to another.

The only two things of any interest I found were a set of foot prints leading away from the plane and the suddenly stopping, and a large wooden-walled complex, supposedly inhabited by natives.

It seemed as if the rest of the game would unfold once I entered, but try as I might, I found it impossible to get past the gates.

Later on in the game there's a jeep to be found, but even that has no petrol in it so you'll have to go off searching for some as well. Personally I couldn't be bothered, mainly because it is so fantastically boring, there's simply no compulsion to solve the puzzles.

The entire game is played in complete silence, apart from an irritating whoosh when you get near to the coast. Graphically it's also pretty poor. The main sprite is quite nice, but the scrolling is slow and jerky and the backdrops are sadly lacking in detail. The mouse control is also very frustrating indeed. Controlling your hero is a tiresome process, as is using the menu system.

All these faults add up to a very unprofessional attempt at a game that only die-hard arcade adventure fans should consider looking at.