Ticking away the moments...

Time logo

YOU have seen the future, and it is not good. Not good at all. In fact, it's terrible. Everyone dies. Not very enjoyable. You've seen it because you've been there. In a time machine.

Confusing things, time machines. If you've seen the future, can you go back to the past and change it? If so, how could you have seen it in the first place? It doesn't exist any more. Or does it? I had that Robert Heinlein in the back of my cab once...

All these paradoxes are quite rightly swept aside by Empire Software, which uses the old adage "never let physics get in the way of a good story". The only snag is that if time travel did indeed exist as described, the entire fabric of the space-time continuum would be in a constant state of non-conservational flux, and not in a fixed newtonian frame of reference. But what the heck, it's only a game.

Time is an adventure spanning several thousand years of Earth history, from the era of the Roman Emperors to a period in the possible future when Earth has been ecologically destroyed. To avoid the main character constantly getting old and dying, a major plot device is that brilliant H.G. Wells invention, the time machine.

An approach normally kept locked into shoot-'em-ups is the multiple game scenario, all linked via some central theme. Occasionally ideas spill over other game formats, and Time is quite happy to plagiarise from as many sources as possible to produce a potentially original plot, tying several small games together into one.

Our hero arrives on the orbiting satellite, Historsat, a giant floating library of Earth history. Finding out exactly what is going on involves solving some simple puzzles, such as chatting up a secretary, choking a cat and visiting what is left of Earth via shuttle craft.

Returning to the space station armed with a brief inkling of what is happening, the next task is to come to grips with is travelling into the past and meeting a few well known figures. Each of these little adventurettes is a mini-quest in its own right, albeit of a rather simple nature. Mostly a case of walk over here, pick up this object and drop it over here, but they work well and are different enough to keep you waiting for the next.

The action is totally mouse-based, guiding the hero about a window of graphics and other characters. This window could most kindly be described as not large, but, believe it or not, it soon seems big enough. The majority of the screen is taken up by the action icons - the usual sort of stuff like drop, pick up and walk.

The speak icon usually merits a response from the other characters, as they chatter away in an good animated sequence with their words appearing as subtitles beneath them. This provides lots of scope for doing some silly voices as you play the game.

Unfortunately you cannot specify what your hero says - he appears to be the strong silent type and waits for everyone else to volunteer information. This gives the game that slightly pre-destined feel which detracts from gameplay.

The puzzles in Time are not tough. I usually get frustrated with adventures when I can't solve a problem, and throw them away. I didn't throw Time away - it is a good re-introduction to adventuring for those of us who either gave up on the genre after The Hobbit or couldn't be bothered with incredibly complex solutions.

Time logo

Was schon immer das Bedürfnis verspürt hat, dem ollen Cäsar einmal bei seinen Sauf- und Freßorgien Gesellschaft zu leisten, oder sein Abendessen in König Arthurs Tafelrunde einzunehmen, der ist bei dem neuen Zeitreise-Adventure von Empire an der richtigen Adresse!

Leider ist die (viersprachtige) Anleitung von "Time" recht knauserig mit genaueren Angaben zur Hintergrundgeschichte, so daß man die Story größtenteils erraten muß: In einer fernen Zukunft wird unsere Erde von Mekanoiden (künstlichen Menschen) tyrannisiert. Die Erdoberfläche besteht aus einem einzigen Trümmerhaufen, die meisten der übriggebliebenen Humanoiden (also Menschen wie du und ich) befinden sich in Satelliten, die den geschändeten Planeten umkreisen.

Aus nicht näher aufklärbaren Gründen ist es jetzt dringend erforderlich, daß ein noch unvollständiger "Sekurimek"zusammengesetzt wird, dessen fehlende Teile irgendwo in der Vergangenheit verstreut liegen.

Dazu wird der Agent Dr. Hunter (das bist du!) auf die Raumstation Historisat beordert, wo er nach einigen Schwierigkeiten mit den etwas seltsamen Besatzungsmitgliedern seinen Auftrag erhält: Mit Hilfe von zwar vorhandenen, aber erst zu findenden Zeitmaschinen soll er fünf bekannte Persönlichkeiten der Vergangenheit aufsuchen, die ihm bei seiner Aufgabe behilflich sein können.

Bis man alle fünf Berühmtheiten (von Cäsar bis zum alten Merlin) aufgetrieben hat, vergeht allerdings einige Zeit - 'über hundert Orte wollen besicht und erforscht sein, ehe das futuristische Puzzle gelöst ist!

Das Spiel hat eine durchaus sehenswerte Grafik mit passabel animierten Akteuren. Unverständlicherweise hat man für die Darstellung der eigentlichen Handlung nur einen winzig kleinen Screen-Ausschnitt reserviert; den größten Teil der Bildschirm nehmen die Symbole ein, mit denen man per Mausklick den Helden dirigiert: Neben zwei Händen, die für die Standardfunktionen Aufnehmen und Ablegen bestimmt sind, gibt es ein Joker-Feld, mit dem sich die meisten anderen Aktionen bewerkstelligen lassen.

Ein Auge öffnet sich, wenn Dr. Hunter an irgendwelchen interessanten Dingen vorbeigeht, und mit einer Stockwerksanzeige kann man die Etage wechseln.

Das Speichern und Laden von Spielständen geschieht an einem der vielen Terminals in der Raumstation, dort erhält man auch alle möglichen Auskünfte. Der Lautsprecher bekommt recht wenig zu tun: nach der hübschen Titelmelodie wird er nur noch durch gelegentliche Geräusche aus seinem Tiefschlaf gerissen.

Die Motivation läßt bei Time schnell nach - die Handlungs- und Auswahlmöglichkeiten sind auf die Dauer einfach zu beschränkt; dazu ist vieles zu offensichtlich, manche Geschehnisse sind dafür wieder vom Zufall diktiert. Ein weiteres Manko ist die ungenaue Steuerung (Nachlaufen) der Spielfigur über diverse Pfeil-Symbole.

Somit mag Time ein Mordspaß für gelangweilte Mekanoiden sein, für uns Humanoide gibt es gottlob eine Menge bessere Adventures! (wh)

Time logo

Price: £29.95

The year is 2047 and you have been summoned to the Historisat satellite which is orbiting the Earth. As the game starts that is all you know but you will soon discover that a scientist has seen the future and only you can save mankind. A prototype android, called Mek, will mutate and start to replicate, eventually destroying all but a few members of the human race.

As the leading Mektech in the galaxy it is up to you to destroy the mutant. In order to do this you must find the five time machines on the satellite and travel back in time. You must collect five pieces of amulet from powerful people from history including Merlin, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence Nightingale, Caesar and Confucious. I can see a case for four of these characters, but Florence Nightingale?

It has been ages since I have seen a good arcade adventure on the Amiga and Time fits the gap nicely. Control is via the mouse, instructions to your agent, Hillman Hunter, are given by clicking on various icons at the bottom of the screen.

The action is viewed in a small window just above the icons. It is easy enough to enter commands but at times the mouse can be a little unresponsive. I think the whole system could have been much improved by using joystick and a few keys.

There are a large selection of characters with whom you must interact if you are to make any progress, some of which must be won over with gifts whilst other who should be avoided like the plague.

There are just over forty locations in the game, each of which scrolls horizontally; there is not an enormous playing area but believe me, you will be thankful when you attempt some of the devious problems.

The graphics in Time suit their purpose but they are not especially dramatic, especially when compared to games like Future Wars. It would have been nice to see just a little more effort put into the characters. Having said that, the backdrops are excellent, occasionally featuring some nice little touches like the space shuttle landing.

Sound is very limited, a short tune plays before the game starts but after that there are very few effects at all, and what there is, is not up to much.

Time is a game that arcade adventure fans will be able to get their teeth into and chew on for many months but you really must be a fan to fork out the ridiculous price of thirty quid.

Time logo

Empire, Amiga £29.99

Ever since the marvellous Macbeth was released (the adventure game, not the play... I may be no spring chicken, but have a heart!) I've taken an interest in the doings of Oxford Digital Enterprises, the Time programming team.

One of their later games, Sleeping Gods Lie, I thought was particularly good and so it was with anticipation that I sat down to study this, their latest venture.

You've been summoned to the orbiting satellite, Historisat, to attend a top secret meeting with The Director. Once you successfully reach him he informs you that one of the Meks (androids) will shortly begin replicating at such a rate that human civilization could be threatened with destruction.

It's up to you to find a way to destroy the Mek and save the world.

Time is set in the year 2047 but to succeed in your mission you have to travel to five other time periods using machines found on Historisat.

You need to collect a magical amulet, charge it up to full power by giving it to various historical figures, return to the satellite, and use the now fully charged trinket to activate a friendly Mek so that it may destroy the rebel Mek...

An animated adventure, Time is plated using the mouse to click on action icons (such as Left, Right, Talk and Look) and so control the hero. Unfortunately, Empire's system is slow and poorly animated compared to that used in Future Wars or Indiana Jones.

Worse, the reality factor is low: for example, you heed to give Dr Delaney's wife a fish for her cat before she'll let you in to see her husband. The piscine you offer is made of rubber, which Mrs Delaney doesn't notice until she's fed it to her moggy and it chokes to death. Not only is it unlikely that neither you nor she would notice it was a false fish but one would think the pussy might smell something... unusual.

You are only allowed to save and load your game position when at computer terminals situated throughout Historisat; this is a dated idea and does nothing but annoy. In fact the whole adventure appears dated (except for the opening them, which is nice) and is incredibly linear.
Oxford Digital Enterprises are capable of much better games.