Koala Lumpur: Journey To The Edge

Developer:  (Colossal) Pictures
Publisher:  Broderbund
Year Released:  1997

Review by Gordon Aplin (April, 1997)
klum.jpgWant a break from playing dark, sombre first person perspective adventures? Koala Lumpur: Journey To The Edge could be just what you're looking for. It's a light-hearted cosmic romp that features bold, bright cartoon graphics, 360 degree scrolling and a cursor with personality (if a fly, or indeed a cursor, can be said to have a personality then this one surely does). It also features Koala Lumpur, of course, a mystical, meditating marsupial with an Indian accent, as well as Dr. Dingo Tu-far, who manages to capture some of the characteristic, dry, Australian sense of humour, if not the Aussie accent.

A not-so-cuddly Koala
I must admit that Koala's way of speaking jarred at first with my expectations, but I soon got used to it and, on reflection, there is no good reason why an Australian marsupial should necessarily talk like a white, Aussie male. In fact, male Koalas seldom meditate on anything higher than the next gum leaf and rarely speak except for a deep, throaty grunt when fighting or mating, and both acts are so similar they are difficult to tell apart. But I digress.

Koala Lumpur is obviously an altogether different kind of creature and the story opens with him discovering an unusual scroll amongst all the other junk he keeps in his magical fez. He reads the scroll and is zapped to another dimension containing a couple of, seemingly, opposite astral portals. Behind one door is the evil Macho de Nada who wants to destroy the Cartoon Universe, and behind the other door is Ella Mental who tells Koala that the only thing that can stop Macho escaping is the lost scroll of Cartoon Prophesies. Unfortunately, the lost scroll has been torn asunder and scattered to various locations so first each fragment must be found then pieced together. Koala then decides that he will need the help of his good friend Dr. Dingo to complete his mission and he also conjures up a mystical guide familiar in the form of a fly. And this is where you come in.

Fly on the wall
In an entertaining and innovative feature you control Fly, as Koala perceptively names his familiar, who is also your cursor. Moving your mouse to the left or right causes Fly to 'buzz' in that direction through a very smooth-scrolling 360 degrees and in some screens you can also travel vertically. As Fly, you generally direct where Koala and Dingo go (except when they are tied up with more pressing matters and then you are on your own) and you can get them to do things by clicking on objects of interest. You can also use Fly to pick up items and store them in Koala's fez until needed. I should point out here that items with which you can interact are not highlighted in any way, but this doesn't create any serious difficulties as the game has a delightfully intuitive feel to it. The bright, uncluttered graphics also help.

Your first task is to find Dr. Dingo and help him out of a rather embarrassing predicament before he can join you on your quest. There are two ways to accomplish this and I recommend that you try them both, if only to extend the gameplay. After that you can journey to three other self-contained locations in any order to find the scroll pieces, though, as you would expect, getting them is all fun and games.

Mixed bag of tricks
The problems to overcome are pretty much a mixed bag consisting of pure adventuring components where you need to find and use inventory items; abstract puzzles such as turning concentric rings to create a desired image; word association segments where you can increase your repertoire of phobias at Dr Dingo's expense; a pipe maze and much more. The game also includes arcade-type sequences where you have to dodge energy fields not once, but three times. Unfair! Fortunately, Koala Lumpur is a lot of fun and even the, for me, slightly frustrating arcade bits were quite humorous if only for Dingo's comments after you get fried. In true cartoon style you don't die but simply shake off the worst effects of your near death experience so there is no need to constantly save and load your game.

The game has some excellent animated cartoon sequences that inject a little humour or move the story along, although a few of these are quite lengthy and you need to listen carefully to the conversations as there is, disappointingly, no text option. The brash, arrogant yet wonderfully inept Dr Dingo is the perfect fall guy and the focus of much of the humour. He has also amassed an impressive repertoire of testicular references, no doubt because he seems to store his own gonads in his brain cavity -- did you really think they were marbles?

At first glance Koala Lumpur looks as though it is aimed at younger children, but it isn't and certainly many of the puzzles are too complex for very young players. The content rating on the cover suggests it is suitable for players aged thirteen and over and I think this is about right for the puzzle difficulty as well. Seasoned adventurers may well enjoy it for light relief despite it being a little too easy, though it is probably best suited for beginning or intermediate players as clues abound throughout the game and helpful hints are provided in the manual. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1997. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
486/66 or faster, 8MB RAM, 4MB hard drive space, 2xCD ROM or faster, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, SVGA monitor/display card 640x480, 256 colors, Windows compatible sound device.