Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus logo


Following in the steps of Columbus? Well he didn't walk across the Atlantic did he? This game places you as a European power trying to rip off the New World as economically as possible. You go broke, game over. Quite an innovative theme.

You have four opponents who make life tough, and there's five extra scenarios for those who want to discover real new worlds. Cutesie but blocky graphics of settlements, soldiers and ships help add life to what is a management game. The map is just a wall of fog at the beginning of the game. Sending out ships to found colonies (preferably with lots of local resources) is just the start of a quite engrossing little game.

The controls are fiddly and buggy. The manual is flash but useless for learning how to play the game. For the patient, it can be absorbing, but it lacks pace. Not a patch on Pirates for playability.

Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus logo

Dieses Game ist gleich in doppelter Hinsicht außergewöhnlich: Zum einen ist es der erste Digitalbeitrag zum Kolumbus-Jahr, zum anderen das mit Abstand beste Programm von Impressions.

Daß die Company Fortschritte macht, konnten wir schon anläßlich von "Samurai" bescheinigen, aber Discovery geht tatsächlich neue Wege - anstatt eines aufgemotzten "Cohort" bekommt man es hier mit einer grafisch hübschen Entdecker-Simulation im Stil von "Pirates" zu tun!

Wer in den Fußstapfen von Christoph Kolumbus wandeln will, legt zunächst den Schwierigkeitsgrad, seine Nationalität etc. fest, dann harren insgesamt sechs Neue Welten ihre Entdeckung.

Also wird im Heimathafen ein Schiff ausgerüstet (wozu eventuell ein Kredit erforderlich ist), mit dem es dann hinaus in die Ferne geht, wo man alsbald die erste Kolonie gründet. Wald muß gerodet werden, um das Land seiner Rohstoffe zu berauben - das bringt Kohle für weitere Entdeckungsreisen...

In Discovery steckt eine Mege drin: Das Gameplay ist komplex, kleine Seegefechte und eine Tagebuch-Funktion werden geboten, zwischenrein bekommt man ein bißchen Geschichte serviert.

Obwohl sich die Sache überwiegend auf einer hübsch animierten Landkarte abspielt (dazu kommen teilweise sehr schöne Zwischenbilder) und die Maussteuerung ordentlich klappt, fehlt es doch stellenweise ein wenig an Übersicht - vielleicht liegt es an den arg schlampig übersetzten Screentexten?

Der Digi-Kolumbus ist daher gut beraten, in englisch zu entdecken, auch vom spärlichen und langweiligen Sound sollte man sich nicht allzuviel erwarten. Davon abgesehen ist Discovery durchaus eine Reise wert! (mm)

Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus logo

What is it with all these 'maritime exploration' games, I wondered as I unfolded yet another battered-looking chart of the high seas, and why do I have to review them all? Then I remembered: this year's the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America, and everybody hates me.

So, what better way to celebrate the discovery of the New World than by, er, discovering the New World? (Or one of five alternative worlds thoughtfully provided for when the first one gets too overrun with hamburger restaurants and rap 'artists'.)

This is done by sending ships out into the unknown and waiting for them to encounter land. Their crews then disembark and start building settlements. Of course, you're not alone out there - four other powers are vying for the same goal, and conflicts (both sea and land-based) are inevitable.

This could all have been horribly boring, but (surprisingly) it isn't. The graphics are a big help. While not exactly breathtaking, they're extensively animated and I particularly liked the 'ship sailing over the horizon' effect. The other major plus is that the game plays itself until you intervene, so it's not constantly hanging around waiting for trivial input from you. (This is the same approach Dreadnoughts used last month, and the only sensible way to go about things if you ask me.)

The problem is the user interface isn't up to much. The cursor moves around all jerkily, and the menu system feels disjointed and cumbersome. And while the icons are quite pretty, I had to look them all up in the manual to work out what they did (thus defeating their object. It's quite a nice manual, though, with plenty of background info on our man Columbus.

So what's the verdict then? Well, while Discover certainly isn't up there with Powermonger or Mega lo Mania, compared to the sort of thing I usually have to put up with it's a breath of fresh air. A 'sea breeze'.

Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus logo

Impressions have a stab at a God game. Tony Dillon is there to shout 'Land Ahoy!'

Christopher Columbus is probably one of our most famous travellers - and, no doubt if he were alive today, he could comfortably find his way to Mile End from central London on the Underground. The equivalent task of his age (the 15th Century) was to roam the seas, searching for uncharted lands and, well, chart them.

You had to be a hard person to brave the open seas, facing who knows what who knows where - especially since it was so easy to sail off the edge of the flat world.

As an intrepid explorer you have to find as many islands as you can, colonise them, set up trade routes and make as much money as possible, and the only real test is that you have to do it faster than your four adversaries, each of whom represent a nation other than your own.

As is expected with a game such as this, Discovery is icon controlled, and follows a reasonably logical path. First, build an armed exploratory ship and send out in the general direction of one of the eight man compass points.

When it has found land, settle, clear the grounds to produce timber, build small towns and set up trade routes, buying stock cheaply from one port and then sailing to another where you sell it at an extortionate price.

The gameplay is presented with a small scale map with lots of cute travellers doings cute things which are somewhat out of place with the serious nature of the rest of the package. When you build something, a comical building contractor with a suitably comical bowler hat comically marches up and down barking instructions through his comical megaphone.

You can scroll around the map, or at least as far as you have discovered, and this is where Impressions have tried something new. When you scroll towards the top of the screen, things come over the horizon at you, so you have the impression you are moving forwards rather than up.

As a strategy game, Discovery is fun, but there doesn't seem to be a lot to it. Once again, Impressions have gone a little over the top with their instructions, making the game seem far more complicated than it really is. It's nothing too serious, so it falls between two stools, but if you really want to give it a go, try playing it before reading the manual. It seems to make considerably more sense that way.