Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats for the trip of a lifetime. Four misfits have inherited a spaceship that is orbiting around the planet Castra. SS Whale is the total of their material wealth - they have no money, and no fuel. So, these weirdos have to beam down on to the planet and make their fortune while traveling around a bit.
Whale's Voyage is a futuristic (RPG) role-playing game that will really stretch your wits. It's controlled entirely with a joystick or keyboard. It's got trading bits, combat, exploration, and lovely, lovely graphics. Unfortunately, it's also suffered a bit in the translation from the German original, but this just adds a touch of flavour to the game.
At the start, you can either pre-load a set of included characters, or you can generate your own personal ones. To be honest, you are probably better off using the preset ones, but it's worth generating your own just to appreciate the originality of the system. You don't roll a set of statistics (strength, intelligence and so on) like you do in games like Dungeons & Dragons.
With Whale's Voyage you first, you select a father and mother for the character, then you select a childhood option and an advanced education option. If a character is blighted in one area, then certain options are not available - for instance, a particularly dumb character cannot get into medical school. The whole system is very neat.
After that, you start on the Whale's flight deck. From there, you can buy and sell cargo, equip the Whale with optional extras, beam down to the planet that you are currently orbiting, travel to a different planet or phone someone you have already met.
To perform ay of these tasks you just move along the panels of icons and press the fire button.
On another planet
You start off the game with no money for fuel or cargo, and so you have to beam down to the planet. At first, when you're on a planet, naturally you don't know your way around. Now most role
Whale's Voyage has a built-in automapper, so all you have to do is run around and the map is drawn for you. This map is permanent, so long as you save the game (more on that later).
On your stroll you will probably encounter one or two mobile people doing the same thing. Most new players attempt to talk with mobile NPCs (non-player characters) - this is usually a waste of time. All useful encounters (at least the ones I've seen) are preset - you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
The planet where you start is a lawless place, and pretty soon you will either get mugged or find someone else getting mugged. If you help out victims in trouble,you will be rewarded. This seems to be the main theme of the game. You can either trade in your rewards for straight cash at a shop, or use them to help you later in the game.
Because Whale's Voyage is set in the future, there's a while range of technological gadgets to help you out. Needless to say, they are all rather expensive. It does seem to have quite a long playing span before you finish it, but then it does come on seven floppy disks, one of which is the game-save disk.
For adults only!
This is an unusual game in many ways, but the major one is that it doesn't respond to a mouse. This is usually just a learning tool on RPGs, as the keyboard is quicker, but the lack of such an option does make it much harder to play. So don't buy this game if you want one that is easy-to-
I still haven't found out how to save the game (the manual says it's 'On the Trading Menu' - I see, you have to press Esc). You can only do one save game per floppy disk. If you have a very fast Amiga (25Mhz 030 or faster) then the game is more difficult, because it responds too fast to the controls. It's very infuriating to set off in a direction, only to realise you are going the wrong way!
Playing it on a one floppy drive system is very tedious - I really have to say that if you haven't got a hard drive, then bother with Whale's Voyage. But if you can crack the hard shell, you will find a wealth of enjoyment on the inside, just waiting to be explored.