The Pink Panther's Passport to Peril
As this game opens Agent Pink learns of his dare-devil mission to play diplomat and ensure world peace. He's headed for a destination where the danger is dangerous; where the work demands work; and where the nights are dark. His task is to play nursemaid and keep the kids happy at the Camp Chilly Wa Wa Conference ... or else! Now, these are no ordinary kids, they are the sons and daughters of diplomats and Prime Ministers. They are themselves political activists and environmentalists and they are smart ... something is bound to go wrong!
And, would you believe it, things quickly take a turn for the worse when Pink arrives at camp! Not only are there a couple of suspicious inspectors waiting to look around, but the kids suddenly turn into little devils. Pink ultimately gets drawn into a wild goose chase as he jets around the world learning about different countries and trying desperately to keep everyone happy. First Nigel from England is upset and he is in need of a memento from home and it's non stop thereafter chasing up errands for the squawking kids. From England it's off to Egypt, then China, Bhutan, India and, finally Australia.
Without the familiar Pink Panther theme the introduction is still classy as Agent Pink learns of his mission. This mouse-driven children's title for ages 6 and upwards shapes up as a lot of fun. Pink is his usual cunning and captivating self (even if he has found his voice at long, long last), the dialogue is humorous (but not subtitled) the graphics are bright, colourful and inviting, and all is spiced up with some hair-raising animations and music. Added to this the game promises to deliver a little education along the way, very impressive, but maybe it's all just a little too good to be true. Although it has a lot going for it all aspects of this package have not been given the same meticulous attention so it isn't a completely successful learning adventure.
Pink's first errand (to get hold of Nigel's memento) presents some tricky problems: where is Nigel's house, and what is his favourite toy? Then when the young Egyptian delegate runs away there's the task of searching for her in Egypt, and in India Pink must find some flowers to put on a grave. Every country he visits introduces a range of problems which are in turn linked to a bite-size chunk of information such as the story of the Taj Mahal or of Guy Fawke's escapades on the 5th November. Some of the lessons are dressed up and put to music even if they are a little romanticised. More serious are the social and political messages touched upon including the treatment of women in India, Aborigines in Australia and the isolationist policies of Bhutan.
To compliment the above Agent Pink also carries a PDA (Pink Digital Assistant) that holds general information about each country. This can be accessed at any time and Pink might also prompt the player to do so by wondering if it might provide information about a particular object in the gameworld.
The PDA is a nice touch but it falls down because it is too easy to mix up information between countries. This component could have been handled better and so could the actual adventuring part of the game. In this respect Passport to Peril breaks a lot of adventure game conventions by not consistently identifying hot spots and not always communicating what needs to be done. This means that challenges and objectives are not clearly signalled to the player which in turn means that trial and error is often the only option. Of course, the game is not difficult and kids will find their way through it, but it certainly doesn't stand up as a good example of adventure game design. If all else fails there is a rhyming hint file included on the disk.
Agent Pink is poised to provide a lot of laughs in this game mixed in with a little learning. It is just a pity that the adventure game design doesn't quite match up to the excellence of the graphics and sound. Even though there's room for improvement kids will get a kick out of this one.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2000.
All rights reserved.
486-66MHz or faster 16MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM drive or faster, Sound Blaster Compatible Sound card