Moop and Dreadly in The Treasure on Bing Bong Island
Moop and Dreadly spring from the same stable as Freddi Fish, and the similarities are apparent. The same bright colourful animations, the same sense of fun, with a similar cast of lively characters.
Captain Dreadly is a small boy, who with his companion Moop (Clare and I think he is a dog) sets off on the HMS Sudsy to search for treasure on Bing Bong Island. But no sooner are they on the high seas than a bunch of weevils devour their sail, stranding them in the middle of the ocean. So the first task is to find or make a new sail, or the middle of the ocean is where they will stay.
This first task is a nice gentle introduction to the game. Limited places to search, and a small number of items to combine. It gives children of all ages a chance to find their feet before undertaking larger more involved conundrums.
Subsequent conundrums are less contained, and may involve revisiting places a couple of times to collect items or to see if any new paths are opened. First timers, particularly young ones, may require instruction in the first rule of adventuring - just because there was nothing there last time, doesn't mean there won't be something there now. Clare had to be reminded to revisit a scene or two, and it had indeed changed.
Moop will give handy hints, and if you pay attention, objectives are fairly well spelled out. Clare's slight bumps in the road were caused by not being able to find the right item, rather than not knowing what to do.
As intimated, most of the puzzles involve finding the right objects and using them correctly. They are all intuitive, and memory and recognition play a big part. Clare is 9 and found the game too easy, so whilst it is recommended for 5 years and over, the puzzling is probably best suited to the lower end of the continuum.
Which isn't to say that older children can't enjoy the game. It is a cartoon after all, and a fairly engaging one. Like many cartoons it has an element of the absurd. Emily who is 12 insisted on having a go, just because it looked like fun.
To find the treasure Dreadly will have to deal with quicksand, shadow monsters, pirates, volcanoes, and rabbits with car jacks. All going well he will find the lost Princess Connie as well as the legendary golden glockenspiel.
Actually, it is Moop who will have to deal with all of these. Dreadly would probably still be stuck in the middle of the ocean if it weren't for Moop.
A special mention must go to the construction worker for being a member of the relevant trade union. And to whoever wrote the song which accompanies the chase scene for finding a rhyme for "glockenspiel".
The end game involves a moral choice - to leave with the glockenspiel or not? You may be unpleasantly surprised depending on your choice.
The game has 6 chapters, and like a good melodrama, or any to-be-continued children's cartoon series, each one ends with Moop and Dreadly in dire straights and an over the top voice-over predicting doom and gloom and asking "will they survive or won't they"? The next chapter is then introduced with a short "last time we saw Moop and Dreadly....". You know the drill, and it works well. A suitable cartoonish sound track accompanies the proceedings.
Each scene is vibrant with more to do than simply find the right articles. Like many other children's games, clicking on many parts of the screen will elicit a range of animations and responses. Perhaps not quite as many as some other games, but fun to find and watch nonetheless.
Game mechanics are simple and straightforward. A cursor will light up if something can be interacted with, and will change to an arrow indicating a path to a new screen. The inventory is a small sack carried by Moop, which can remain open, in which case collected items are displayed continually on the bottom of the screen, or closed, only revealing collected items when looked inside. Click the scroll in the bottom left and the main menu appears, where games can be saved and loaded, subtitles turned on or off, and volume controlled.
The game manuals, apart from some written instructions on how to install, are all on the CD, and require Adobe Acrobat to read them. There is a copy of this program on the CD for those who need it.
It took Clare about an hour, with the occasional nudge from me sitting along side, and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour an a cold afternoon with one's daughter. As noted earlier, those slightly younger than Clare will probably be entertained for longer.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey with Clare 2002.
All rights reserved.
Win 95/98/ME/2000Pro/XP, Pentium 233 MHz or faster, 32MB RAM or greater, 150MB free hard disk space, CD-ROM Drive, 16-bit DirectX-compatible sound card, 16-bit color, DirectX-compatible video card, DirectX 5 or greater (DirectX 8 included)
Macintosh System OS X
PowerMac, iMac or G3 Processor, 233 MHz or faster, 64MB RAM, 150 MB free hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, Thousands of Colors Video Display.