Flight of the Amazon Queen logo

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

We first reported on this game way back in December 1994, many months ago. It looked great, and we all looked forward to it coming in. We waited and waited. And we waited. Finally though, we have the final version and it was worth the wait. In fact, it's a miracle you're actually getting this review this month because I've only just been dragged away from the game out of fear of the wrath of our sub-editor getting irate for not having any copy in this month.

This does actually benefit you because we're nearly at the end of the game and it all goes to plan you should be getting the cheat mode very soon - well, that's our excuse.

So as you've probably gleaned already, this is a highly addictive game that's likely to keep you glued to the monitor until you finish it. It's an adventure game that follows the exploits of Joe King. He's a pilot with a mission to take the glamorous film star, Faye Russell, off to an exotic location for a film shoot.

Disaster strikes even before take off and Faye is whisked away by one of Joe's rivals. Joe eventually rescues her and they continue their jinxed journey. A storm brews, lightening strikes, and the crew end up stranded in the Amazonian jungle. They then stumble across an evil plot involving a kidnapped princess, a mad scientist, and ladenhosen.

Well, it gets more involved than this but I won't spoil it for you because the game has a great way of revealing the plot as you go along.

There are many more good points and what is particularly successful is how well the puzzles run together. This is probably why I've not left my computer for so long because unlike some adventures, you're never left stuck in one place - you can go around, collect other clues and then come back, which all works exceptionally well.

Another aspect which makes you keep on playing is the fact you don't die for stupid reasons. For instance, if you're in a situation where a fight breaks out, some games leave you for dead and onto the restart level. Here though, each part just leads on to the next and if you get a kicking then it's only to form the next clue


Thanks to an imaginative setting, enjoyable puzzles and intriguing plot, it has all the ingredients to become a timeless classic

The clues are very logical too, without becoming overly simple, so they still remain challenging. For example, you have to find some milk to get magic potion from the Witch Doctor. You have a coconut and a knife, et voila - coconut milk. Firstly though, you will need to actually get the coconut from a monkey by swapping a banana with him.

It's all a matter of keeping your eyes peeled and using the logical side of your brain. Another safety catch against going wrong is that it won't let you give away your carefully collected possessions to the wrong people at the wrong time. The only problem this might have is that hardened adventurers might find if a little on the easy side. Saying that though, it does get particularly taxing towards the end.

The presentation is also top notch, with a user-friendly icon system and well set out screens. Graphics keep to a cartoon style with some nice animations, and they all manage to conjure the atmosphere of the plot brilliantly.

The character can wander freely between foreground and background and it works well in providing realism. Another innovative touch the way in which you can use the pinnacle to move to each location. This gives you a bird eye view of your surroundings and you can then click on the place you want to go to next.

The music, though, can start to grate, although it does change according to location. Sound effects are a little sparse but they are at least relevant.

Each of the game's many characters has been imaginatively created, Joe is the stereotypical cocky hero and Faye, the haughty actress, which is perfect for the 1940's adventure theme. This provides for some entertaining dialogue.

Speech aims for witty repartee and despite some obvious double entendres, it works well. However, whether it would suit the younger player, I couldn't say.


The only downside

Cruise for a Corpse
Delphine's point 'n' click adventure is another title among the top contenders. Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie style plot, you played the character of Inspector Dussentier, trying to find the murderer on a cruise ship. SOme of the clues however, were a little strange and FOAQ works far better with more logical puzzles.

The Secret of Monkey Island
As mentioned countless times before, Monkey Island surpasses all other games in this genre. Due to the style of humour and the excellent puzzles, it became a classic. FOAQ is nearly there - it certainly plays as well. However, it just doesn't have quite that many gags as MI.

You could also compare this title to Indiana Jones because of the film-style plot. But as you'd expect, graphics have come on leaps and bounds since then and FOAQ certainly looks the part.

Final word

Adventure games have been done countless time before and I was doubtful that this would meet the mark. However, it comes pretty damn close and is one of the most enjoyable titles I've played for ages. Thanks to an imaginative setting, enjoyable puzzles and intriguing plot, it has all the ingredients to become a timeless classic.

The developers have done a fine job in providing a quality Amiga title in this peiod of sub-standard releases and poor cash-ons. Let's hope this sells well enough to persuade Warner Interactive and Binary Illusions to continue releasing such excellent titles on the Amiga.



Flight of the Amazon Queen logo

The rather delayed Amazon Queen has arrived, Nick Veitch met it in the baggage hall.

You may be too young to remember (which I should just point out that I am) the supporting features at the cinema, the likes of King of the Rocket Men and Flash Gordon. But you must have at least seen them on BBC2 at some stage.

A sound knowledge of the genre would stand you in good stead should you decide to tackle Flight of the Amazon Queen. It is a rolling, rollicking pastiche of the entire history of cliffhanger serials, from Undersea Kingdom to Tales of the Gold Monkey.

Ok, it is just a point and click adventure, very much in the style of Monkey Island, but it fulfils most of the criteria for being dubbed an interactive movie of sorts. We are talking low res 32 coloour graphics, but the skill with which the whole thing has been put together is outstanding.

The basic plot, is that Joe is transporting a movie star to a location shoot in the South American rainforest, but the plane crashes in the Amazon, where Joe uncovers a plot by a mad scientist to take over the world. Seems quite reasonable compared to some of the things Rocket Man got up to...

As an adventure, in many parts it is not too difficult. If your idea of fun is spending three hours trying to unravel a puzzle (and hey, it takes all sorts) you aren't going to get many kicks out of this. It does proceed at about the right pace though, and in spite of it only come on 11 disks, it is vast.

It helps, that unimportant objects are treated as such in the game. If you try to search for something which plays no intrinsic part, Joe will say something like "well, I could do that but it would be a waste of time".

After a while you get to recognise how the game works. Very seldom are the puzzles complex and bizarre and most of them follow along the lines of logic. That isn't to say you don't have to think, but you don't have to think laterally too often.

If this sounds a bit dull, then perhaps I am just not doing a very good job of describing the game. It is a joy to play, mostly because it is just pain funny and there are plenty of hidden parodies to chuckle at.

I don't really ant to give away anything which may spoil your enjoyment of the game, but for example, there is one part where you have to get past a gorilla blocking your path. This is only achieved by pointing out that there are no gorillas in South America, and therefore it can't really be there, at which point it disappears.

A lot of the plot relies on dialogue, and in what has become a familiar style, you are given a choice of several possible replies at each point. Obviously, at least half, if not all, of these are wisecracks. Well, it made me laugh.

It is not only funny, but well sequenced. It has a movie feel to it, helped along by the cutaway shots. These are non-interactive elements which advance the plot. Shortly after you land in the jungle for instance, you will be treated to a sequence, showing the evil professor in his lab, perfecting his evil dinosaur ray on the natives.

In my Writing For The Movies book it advises that: "In adventure stories, short cutaway scenes can help maintain the pace of plot development and provide a convenient way of cutting between scenes". Sounds good to me, and the book was written in the '50s too.

Playing from floppy drive can be a bit of a pain. Okay, a thorough and professional job has been made of compressing this game onto only 11 disks, but I'm afraid if you load a save game and have to make eight disk swaps, you are going to be pretty peeved. I know I was. A lot of the cutaway sequences seem to require disk changes as well, which rather defeats the object.

Fortunately though, the saved games are quite small and if you are lucky enough to have a hard drive, this is the perfect game to while away the hours with. Compulsive, addictive and above all, funny.



Flight of the Amazon Queen logo Amiga Joker Hit

Wohl keiner Firma haben die Amiganer so nachgetrauert wie Lucas Arts, doch nun machen Australier deren Amiga-Mebargo vergessen: Interactive Binary Illusions hat unter dem Fittichen von Renegade ein Adventure abgeliefert, das keinen Vergleich mit den Us-Abenteuern zu scheuen braucht!

Man schlüpft hier in die Fliegerjacke des Bruchpiloten Joe King (als Gewinner unseres entsprechenden Wettbewerbs sogar wortwörtlich), dessen Frachtmaschine genauso heißt wie das Spiel. Diese "Amazon Queen" soll das Starlet Faye Russel anno 1949 zu ihren Dreharbeiten bringen, stürzt aber wegen eines Biltzschlages mit Mann und Maus über dem Amazonas ab.

Und sobald die Schöne, der Held und sein Kumpel Sparky den Piranhas entkommen sind, fängt der Ärger erst richtig an: Es stellt sich nämlich heraus, daß der verrückte Dr. Eisenstein nahe der Absturzstelle eine Lederhosenfabrik betreibt, di nur als Tarnung für seine grausamen Experimente dient - der Wahnsinnige will die Eingeborenen (darunter auch eine Amazonkönigin aus Fleisch und Blut) zwecks Weltherrschaft in Kampfdinos verwandeln!

Doch damit nicht genug der Verrücktheiten, denn während seiner Rettungsaktion trifft Joe King auf Schatzsucher mit Aussclag oder dekadente Pygmäen, philosophiert mit sprechenden Gorillas, lernt zu Affen predigende Missionare kennen und schmökert im eingebauten Commander Rocket-Comic.

Derlei Gags könnten ja nun wirklich ebenso gut von Lucas Arts sein, genau wie die Maussteuerung mittels acht Anklickverben (und einem Inventory) erkennbar an frühere Werke aus der Skywalker Ranch erinnert.

Auch der Aufbau der Rätsel ist immer streng logisch, wobei der Schwierigkeitsgrad schön langsam zunimmt und die großen US-Vorbilder oft köstlich auf die Schippe genommen werden: Hier finden sich Affen und Piratenhütte à la "Monkey Island" ebenso wie einige Prügeleien im Stil von "Indy 4"; auch wenn sie dann manchmal ganz anders verlaufen als gedacht.

Multiple-choice-Gespräche durften natürlich auch nicht fehlen, und so kann man sich mit über 40 Personen unterhalten - teils auch auf Pygmäisch, wozu freilich erst ein Wörterbuch gefunden werden muß. Dazu erfährt man aus filmartigen Zwischensequenzen, was sich andernorts jeweils so tut. Und falls Euch das noch nicht "lucasartig" genug sein sollte; die Experimente des durchgeknallten Doktors erinnern an das gute alte "Maniac Mansion"...

Zur Graik sei gesagt, daß jede der über 100 teils scrollenden Locations mit so viel Liebe gemalt wurde, daß die Amiga-Vesion der kurz zuvor erschienenen PC-Fassung nicht nachsteht und daher eine entsprechend bessere Note erhielt - zumal ja auch die Animationen hier eine Klasse für sich sind.

Das noch größere Wunder ist aber die Musik, denn wo die DOSe müde vor sich hin dudelt, wird der Amiga mit dynamischen Tracks verwöhnt. Und wil alle Effekte auf Disk 11 versammelt sind, genügt ein Zweitlaufwerk; schon halten sich Diskwechselei und Nachladezeiten auf einem gut erträglichen Niveau, selbst wenn man auf seiner Festplatte keine 9 MB frei haben oder die zur HD-Installation empfohlenen 2 MB RAM nicht besitzen sollte.

Auf ähnlich hohem Niveau befindet sich die komplett deutsche Übersetzung: Anja Eggebrecht (die Frau des Factor 5-Vorstehers Julian Eggebrecht) hat soga penibel darauf geachtet, neben dem Text auch jedes Wort in der Grafik mit einzudeutschen.

Damit ist Flight of the Amazon Queen ganz klar das bisher beste Amiga-Adventure 1995; allenfalls das im aktuellen CD-Joker vorgestellte "Simon the Sorcerer II" könnte am Amazonthron rütteln.

Apropos: Das Erscheinen einer CD-Version mit Sprachausgabe hängt hier nicht unwesentlich vom Erfolg der Disk-Fassung ab; wer also der "Freundin" etwas Gutes tun möchte, der besorge sich das Spiel - selten dürfte eine gute Tat so leicht gefallen sein!

Zweites apropos: In der nächsten Ausgabe wollen wir Euch ein Interview mit den Jungs von Interactive Binary Illusions liefern und dabei abklären, wie sie es geschafft haben, eine so gelungene Ersatzdroge für die Fans von Guybrush & Co. Zu entwickeln. (mm)



Flight of the Amazon Queen logo

And a big hello to Doctor G Scientist and Vernon.

Francis was impressed: the spoon without a doubt made up for You Don't Have To Be Megalomaniacal To Work Here But It Helps!!!. He'd been expecting the lift behind the wall panelling in the unpleasantly enthusiastic secretary's office, and the deeply curving slide as the floor dropped open was standard for the model, but the way the enormous padded scoop sprang from above the ceiling to fork him neatly and arc through the concealed chute when he reached across to stir his complimentary lemon tea came as an interesting surprise. It was easy to see why everyone aspired to the Black Board.

A section of floor Jaycloth-cartoned, and an alarmed black-clad underling appeared with an explosive hiss. Obviously unfamiliar with the equipment, he twisted in mid-air and landed heavily facing an exhaustive bookcase. There was a briefly agonised moment, and the doorman pirouetted towards Francis.

"Mr Perkins," he silked tenaciously, "the Black Board will see you now."
"But my name is not - " began Francis. The doorman cut him off with a gesture and exaggerated the precaution of glancing about himself as if acting out a script.

"The Black Board would be obliged if you adopt a pseudonym," he explained. "This way," he added, pulling an edition of Chaucer from the bookcase and leaping backwards. After a while he replaced the book and seized the volume next to it. The bookcase swung open, revealing an escalator reminiscent of those of the London Underground.

The doorman regarded it with confusion. "So what did I order installed at St Pancrs? No matter. Follow me. And stay on the right," he added as Francis gingerly stepped upon the rapid steps and settled his balance.

GENUINE
The room was impenetrably dark by design. Francis shuffled uncomfortably before the looming shapes. There was the pressure of a supersonic note, and an amplified voice gargled from above.
"THE BLACK BOARD WELCOMES YOU, FRANCIS IRONSTEIN. WE SHALL ATTEND TO YOU IN A MOMENT. FIRST, WE MUST DEAL WITH THIS UNDERLING."

The voice dopplered across to the doorman, who had been consulting a clipboard and writing furious memos. "YOUR INEPTITUDE HAS DIMINISHED THE PERCEPTION OF THE BLACK BOARD AS ALL POWERFUL. WE DO NOT TOLERATE FAILURE IN THIS ORGANISATION."

Smoke mushroomed from the floor as a trapdoor thundered open full six feet to the doorman's right. There was an embarrassed pause. Suddenly the doorman clapped a hand to the side of his head. "Aaarghh," he yelped theatrically. "My inner ear." He listed to one side and doubling his legs under him, flung himself gamely through the hole. The trapdoor banged shut. "SO PERISH ALL THOSE WHO FAIL THE BLACK BOARD," said the voice petulantly. "EVENTUALLY."

The voice turned once more to Francis. "AND NOW FOR YOU, PROFESSOR, WE HAVE READ YOUR APPLICATION AND FIND IT TO BE OF INTEREST. TELL US MORE OF YOURSELF. FOR EXAMPLE, YOUR NEWEST PLOT TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, RECENTLY FOILED, WE UNDERSTAND BY THE PLITOR OF THE 'AMAZON QUEEN'?"
"Boooo," said a voice of recognisably readerish qualities, "Aaarghh," it continued to the sound of heavy blows.

Francis sat back in the black leather chair that had zoomed under him from a panel in the wall. He had carefully prepared for this moment. There was no shame in failing to take over the world, as any of the Black Board would attest. "Well," he found himself saying, "it's a long story."

"DOT DOT DOT," recited the Black Board in unison, and Francis knew he had them.

FOREIGN
Elsewhere, the reviewer was being throttled by Rondo Hatton on the orders of a sinister shadowy figure, "But it's a tried and tested literary device to get across the atmosphere of the game," he gurgled, "That is exactly what it is like."

"Tried and tested by you alone, I recall," murmured the sinister shadowy figure, "We closed Game Zone to stop it last time, and it's not going to work now. Such grotesque self-indulgence exceeds even" - and here it put an audible cocked eyebrow in its speech - "AMIGA POWER's slack rules." It smacked the back of a hand into an open palm. "Facts. Now."

"It's a point-and-click adventure," squealed the reviewer as Rondo twisted his nose," Taking place in 1941 it tells the story of Joe King, pilot for hire, who stumbles across Francis's plot to take over the world and foils it with the aid of Amazons, household appliances and native intelligence and intelligence."
The sinister shadowy figure's lip curled, "Background blurb," the figure stated. It was a sentence.

AND
It was just another day at the Sam Cruise detective agency, except it was the office of Joe King (pilot for hire), and it was empty because Joe was dressed in drag on the back of a speeding flatbed lorry. "Step on it, Sparky," barked Joe, ducking bullets and flinging chickens at Rico and Eddy. He juggled his ersatz boxom and waved a fist on general principle.

"And then what happened?" asked Naomi as the camera pulled out and went wobbly to show it was later on and Joe was relating the story in the local trading post. Joe Smired.

"After disposing of Rico and Eddy, punching out Anderson and flying famous actress Faye Russell to the Amazon, except we crashed, the rest was simple.""

The projector snickered to a halt, and Francis's shadow unrolled across the screen. "But it wasn't simple," he commenced, rippling the screen pleasantly with a pointer. "Unbeknownst to Mr King, the area of the jungle in which he had crashed housed my secret base. I had, of course, surrounded my base with guards and traps - traps with logical (yet slightly obtuse) disarming procedures. My guards were under strict orders to give away weaknesses in casual conversation and be extraordinarily stupid. Should Mr King still be fooled, he had only to examine each chamber closely and move any objects to be found."

"SO, PLAGIARISING MYSELF AND MR THREEPWOOD," harrumphed a subsidiary voice of the Black Board.
"Paying homage, Mr Chuck," countered Francis, smiling so hard his eyes squeaked. The projector clattered into life, but was beaten up before it could flee.


Observing his rod and reel

COLONIAL
"Funny," babbled the reviewer. "Yes, it's funny. Your main character cracks wise to a high degree, and the dialogue is very good. Eeeegh. I mean, it sparkles with wit. The routine with the shirty Death, for example, who you're trying to hire as a ferryman. Observing his rod and reel, you ask politely about the one that got away. He thinks for a moment and then admits that Harry Houdini led him a merry dance.

Then there are the in-jokes. The game's filled with them. Expect to see lines from the likes of Star Wars and Evil Dead ("2" - Ed) and doors to open with the sample from Doom, and to meet a thinly-guised Abbott and Costello and equally transparent Men of Low Moral Fibre. The programmers have clearly played many point-and-click games and know how to make one consistently entertaining.

POSTAGE
"Hooray," said the programmers.

STAMPS
"Up to a point," said the reviewer.

IN
"Kill him," said the programmers.

EVERY
Joe breathed through his nose as the imprisoned loon attempted to give him a glove puppet for the seventeenth time. He shook his head, and, at last, the loon seemed satisfied.

"I'll take it," piped up another prisoner, renewing the argument. Joe's bawl of defeat melded with Francis's bellow of laughter. Tears streamed down his cheeks, and he slapped his knee and sprang the pointer off the floor into an outstretched hand. "Now that's comedy!" he said when he'd regained his breath.

"NO IT ISN'T", countered the Black Board. "AFTER INVESTING TIME IN SETTING UP YOUR CHARACTERS AND WRITING WITTY DIALOGUE FOR TEM, DROPPING SUDDENLY INTO SURREALISM IS DISAPPOINTING AND UNSATISFYING. THE SEQUENCE IN THE GAME WITH THE GORILLA, THE SEQUENCE WITH THE GORIALLA RETURNED BUT DISGUISED AS A DINOSAUR, AND THE INTERMINABLE CROSSTALK BETWEEN THE PRISONERS IN THE AMAZON GAOL, ARE EXTRAORDINARLY UNFUNNY."
Hang on," said Francis, "What do you mean, 'in the game'?"

PACKET
"There's a moment in the game when the programmers lose it completely," gabbled the reviewer as Rondo Hatton filled a bucket of water. "After strolling along for three-quarters of the time, talking to funny people, appreciating complicated dialogue jokes, empathizing with Joe, admiring the phenomenal attention to detail exemplified by the comic, you're given and can then read to discover it really is a comic, and advancing with enjoyable ease through the puzzles, dinosaurs, and, two embarrassing puzzles later, you're more or less taking part in the ridiculously underpowered climax.

It's a finale approaching Dragon's Lair margins of distance; there's no thought involved in anything, the only trick comes in an object's description (leading you to believe it can't be used in a certain manner) being, well, a lie, and it's wholly unworthy of the rest of the game."

The reviewer thought aplunge and was ready upon demmersion. "Even before that point things have been deteriorating. The lengthy, second section of the game takes place in an ancient temple. Although small in size, it's enormously involved and crammed with puzzles. Objects and solutions are, however, SPREAD OUT IN AN ODIOUS MANNER and demand an amazing amount of walking repetitively through the same locations. It's an oddly abrupt and savage slide into mediocrity. Not that it diminished the excellent first three-quarters at all, of course," he added hastily.

OF
"THERE THERE."
"'In the game'. Nuts"
"IT'S NOT SO BAD BEING A LITERARY DEVICE. LOOK AT THE FOUR CYCLISTS OF THE APOCALYPSE."
"Regular characters. WE'll cease to exist once the readers turn the page."
"SOMEONE'S DONE THAT LINE BEFORE."
"More nuts."

TURF
"He's waiting to go on to the afterlife."
"No he's not. He's a desiccated corpse tightly wrapped in bandages and he's so old he'll integrate as soon as you open that airtight sarcophagus."

Joe breathed through his nose as the zombie concubines mulled this over. They seemed a fairly nice bunch of people - at no point, for example, had they tried to bite ope his head - but they were awfully stubborn. It probably came from arguing among themselves and then waiting for the others to back down. He shuffled uncomfortably. If only he'd thought to step off that low ledge earlier on. The zombie concubines turned back to him.

"You're wrong," the leader snapped, unusually angry. "The Prince is waiting inside the sarcophagus. Waiting for us, and for the appropriate moment."
"Then why don't you open it and see?"
"Right! We bloody well will!"
Impossibly skinny hands reached for the complicated doorknob...

CIGARETTES
Flashbulbs popped in the approved manner as the reviewer stepped upon the hasty podium. Reporters barked questions in an effort to impress vaudeville king Pallam Betjeman.

"Reviewer - is it true you can't think of an ending for this piece?" asked a journalist when it became clear Pallam was interested but minimally.
"Reviewer, we hear you're awaiting the end of civilisation to say I told you so,"
"Reviewer, are you a giant chicken?"

The reviewer calmed the auditorium with a gesture, pointing at the security squad who hit people until they were quiet. "I have a prepared statement here," he said, shaking open a paper. "There's really little more to add," he began reading carefully. "It looks terrific, revels in magnificently elaborate puns and has surprisingly good music, with each area having its own more than tolerable theme.

With the larger sections you're pretty much free to tackle puzzles in any old order, and the only annoying flaw in logic comes with finding a low ledge and being obliged to trace a long, twisting route around it instead of, for example, being allowed to jump lightly to the ground.

It's far too easy, though, and, jarring with the light comic atmosphere, there's a bit where a squad of typically inept villains gets killed horribly by deathtraps. I certainly thoroughly enjoyed it for the two days it took me to complete, not counting the part where I found a terrible bug that the programmers had missed and which has put back the release date by four months."

He looked up. "That is all. I read you every day," he added in the traditional manner. The reporters left, oneupmanning among themselves and feeling smug, ceasing to exist as they left the auditorium which served them right.

In the silence, the sinister shadowy figure smiled. "Excellent," he said, ostentatiously ticking upon a clipboard. "Come, Rondo." He turned and melted into the shadows, but due to the reviewer being late as usual, the point of it all was lost forever.


GORILLA MY DREAMS

With the gorilla sequence, Flight of the Amazon dips ill-advisedly into out-and-out silliness. See how the laughs fall away like the shedding skin of a particularly frisky lizard.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Joe meets a gorilla. It is rude to him.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
"Eek eek gawhunga ming ming," says the gorilla (or something). Joe is thus drawn into an extended bout of charades.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
"Wait, you're a gorilla, aren't you?" asks Joe. (Previously he thought it was an ape.) "Gorillas only come from Africa."

Flight of the Amazon Queen
"Say, buddy, I think you're right," muses the gorilla. Oh yes.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
"But this is South America," counters Joe after another lengthy conversation.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
"Aaarghh," says the gorilla, and disappears. How poor.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
But later on he comes back. Wearing a dinosaur suit. Oh dear.


Flight of the Amazon Queen logo CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £39.99 Publisher: Warner Interactive 0171 391 4300

Big name graphics adventures are thin on the ground these days. Thinner in fact than the ozone layer over the South Pole. Thankfully one has flown in for Christmas though.

Imagine this: you're a square jawed pilot with a beautiful 1940 Boeing tri-engined passenger/freight plane and you'rea bout to airlift the most gorgeous actress in the world to the Amazon jungle for a ilm shoot. You'd feel pretty lucky, eh? Until a guy called Anderson comes along and messes things up. He locks you in a room, puts it under armed guard and makes off with the babe. Sheesh!

This was the scenario that was presented to me on a cold winter's morning at the office. I had a stinking cold, bad breath, my girlfiend had walked out on me and I had a dreadful hangover. Just my luck to have to review an adventure game. To top it all Flight comes on 11 disks... this is one helluva way to implement copy protection. Put this baby on the 'net and it would cost more to download it off-peak than it does to buy the game itself!

So a hard drive is the only solution. But wait! No installer! I went to the sandwich shop for a stiff cappuccino and a hard boiled egg. Even though I don't like eggs.
Back at my desk, psyched up for the detective task in hand, things started to look brighter. Now up and running off my hard drive, Flight was proving t be a rather good play.

The opening problem - how to get out of the hotel room. Anderson has locked you in without being slung back in by his armed henchmen minus several items of clothing is a good introduction. Not too difficult to get around, but difficult enough to tax your brain and get you in the mood for the following shenanigans in the jungle.

Learning curve
The plot gets thicker as you wade into Flight. The whole idea of the game is that you learn more as you progress through it, in fact in the spirit of true adventure you rarely know what's going to happen next. The acquisition of objects to help you further into the adventure lead to quite an interesting series of sub-plots.

Flight Of The Amazon Queen was previewed by us way back in November 1994, when we did an interview with John Passfield and Steve Stamatiadis, otherwise known as Interactive Binary Illusions. It suffered a series of setbacks on the Amiga, despite the fact that it originally started out being programmed on this platform. It was originally due out by Easter '95: and it's here now. At the time they were promising a humorous adventure, and having met them I was in no doubt as to what the sense of humour would be like. Did they pull it off though (no smut intended, honest?)

A bit funny
Well, yes, Flight is in fact quite funny. It's very comic book style humour, drawing in-jokes from the world of adventure and sci-fi movies, mixed with some harmlessly smutty remarks. I say quite funny because unfortunately the Amiga version does not benefit from the excellent range of voices playing the parts of the various characters on the PC CD-ROM.

This was originally planned for the CD32 to but this version has now been scrapped, which is a pity. I've played it on PC and the voices (with Penelope Keith, of all people, included) turned it into a much more interactive experience. This is why we all really need CD-ROM drives folks!

Don't get me wrong though, that's about all that's missing. The on-screen text is the same as the spoken word, and is very funny in places. The situations to are gigglesome as are some of very odd characters you meet along the way. Like listening to Billy Connolly on a Walkman and laughing out loud on a crowded bus, it's not a good idea to play Flight while other people are present.

Your constant sniggering will annoy the hell out of everyone else - as will your cries of frustration at not being able to solve a puzzle.

The graphics too are nearly identical to the PC version, and are impressive. All of the characters are detailed and the background scenery is superbly painted (Interactive Binary Illusions originally used Dpaint for everything). There are neat, almost unnecessary tuches too, live the provision of distant background horizons, barely visible, but beautiful nonetheless. In fact some of the graphic touches come as the graphic touches come as a very pleasant unexpected surprise, breaking from the norm and giving you motion or smooth scrolling screens. Quality stuff.

Although voices are absent you do have to do a lot of talking to other characters to solve this adventure. As usual, clicking on the talk icon and then on someone (or thing) in the game will bring up a menu of phrases. The type of response you get will depend on what you way and you sometimes have to delve really deeply into a conversation to pick up an essential snippet of information. Joe's speech menu usually contains both straight and funny phrases, and you can seriously annoy a character by saying the wrong thing to them. Luckily you can also talk your way back out of sticky situations too.

User friendly
Control is by mouse, using the left and right buttons to select and use icons from the menu bar at the bottom of the screen, with the on screen pointer as a positional aid. One thing that really puts Flight up on a pedestal as far as gameplay is concerned is the fact that it's not too fussy about how precisely you point at an object.

Each scene has a limited number of objects which can be examined and possibly picked up and used - not too many, just a comfortable amount. But because each object has quite a wide selection field you never have any problems trying to click on it. Being too pedantic about pixel precise pointing has marred many an adventure in the past.

At the far right-hand side of the icon bar is the inventory. This is a strip that holds as many objects as you need, but only displays four at a time. If you want to make use of an object in the inventory all you have to do is select the Use icon, then the object, and point where you want to use it. Flight will tell you what you're proposing to do eg. "Throw the chicken at Anderson's henchmen", and then right clicking will make Joe do the deed.

Some objects in the inventory need to be combined to produce other objects and while this is not new in adventure games, the whole process is made smoother by the Use icon. You simply click on Use, then on 'item 1', whereupon a message appears saying "use 'item 1' on...". Then you click on what you want to use it with in the inventory i.e. 'item 2'. The two will then be combined and a new object icon will replace them.

Jazz and Jungle
Although there is no voiceover in this version the music is good. Once again though, you'll drive neighbours mad if it is turned up all the time. The basic tune changes with situations and locations, but it has a jazzy feel to it, in keeping with the 1940's theme of the game. The background jungle sounds are good too.

In terms of difficulty Flights Of The Amazon Queen gets it about right. It's so long since I've played a decent adventure that I thought I was a bit rusty, but the logic and the humour of the puzzles brought right back into the flow of things. Although some of the problems are frustrating they never get out of hand,

A quick coffee break and some lateral thinking will usually solve the situation. Indeed some of the solutions are ingeniously well planned, so once you;ve got there you'll feel really satisfied.

In an adventure starved world, Flight is a saviour. I'd rate it as the best humour graphic adventure on Amiga since Monkey Island: but the cynics would say that there haven't been very many since then anyway. To hell with them. I like it and I've a feeling you will too.


A Quick Puzzle Solved...

Without giving much of the game away here's a pretty obvious puzzle which needs to be solved after you've got to Brazil, but before you start the adventure in the jungle. Your plane has crashed in the middle of a pirhana invested swamp and you need to get to shore. But how?

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Oops, the plane's crashed and if I'm not mistaken it's half flooded. It looks as though they're in real trouble. Help! What are they going to do?

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Frayed tempers and arguments on the plane make things worse. Faye is not happy and Sparky looks somewhat preoccupied.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Hmm... these lily pads look as though they could support a man's weight. Now if only I could find something to row with.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Aha! If it can no longer propel the plane through the air maybe I can use this bit of the aircraft to get Joe and the crew through the water.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Very sensible. But not much help to me. Maybe Joe can kill them with his baseball bat? Doh. What a stupid idea.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Maybe Sparky can help. Have a chat with him. Yes, yes, very well, stop gibbering on about comics and get to the point.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
Aha, this could be interesting. I'll wager these pirhanas are hungry. Perhaps some of Sparky's beef will do the trick.

Flight of the Amazon Queen
And see, the mystery is solved. Don't think you're getting off lightly here though, there's still some more items missing.

Why Not Take It Over...

You will meet rather a lot of characters to interact with in Flight Of The Amazon Queen, some of whom are detailed below. Many are very quite forthcoming, but there are difficult ones too.

JOE KING
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
The 'hero' of the show. He's happy go lucky but it's your job to whip him into shape.

SPARKY
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
Joe's mechanic and friend. He loves comics and idle banter which he has lots of.

ANDERSON
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
One of the bad guys. Anderson tries to steal Faye (and her money) from Joe.

FAYE
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
A fiesty lass and no mistake. She has a sharp tongue and an iron will.

THE LOCAL CHIEF
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
Not very easy to talk to, because he only speaks pygmy. But there's a way around this.

THE BRAZILIAN BABE
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
She's talkative but you'll need more than words to get what you need from her.

THE APE
Flight of the Amazon QUeen
The ape doesn't yield much in the way of intelligent conversation. Or does he?