Have you ever thought about making your own computer game? If so there are a number of game authoring programs available for use if you want to try your hand. For making Timba, Marcia Kinney used the Adventure Maker program and, with the help of the artwork of MaryAnn Sterling, she has fashioned a quite impressive world sprinkled with puzzles.
I've just had a very pleasant time playing Timba and leisurely exploring the land of Heagaron where eerie crystal formations are part of the watery landscape. The graphics are quite inspiring, startling on occasions, and there's a huge number of locations. The game is mouse driven with a small inventory and it uses a Windows drop down menu for saving and loading. To move from screen to screen the idea is to search each location to find the movement arrow. The lay of the land isn't a neat grid so it's very easy to get lost in the maze of lush vegetation or amongst the sparkling crystals. Patience is the answer here, or you can draw a map.
The primary aim of the game is to find a new Queen and rescue a special child but before you do you'll need to meet the challenges and pass eight levels of the Mycon, collecting the eight corresponding gems as you go. The land of Heagaron is steeped in an elaborate history and one of the challenges of the game is to learn this history. The keepers of this knowledge are the animals so before you can begin this quest you need to learn how to talk to them.
As well as this knowledge puzzle there are a number of other teasers dotted around the landscape. There's a code to be deciphered (maybe this goes on for a little too long) plus a variety of abstract puzzles such as a sequencing puzzle, and one where you must reverse patterns on a circular board by jumping the tokens, etc.
The object of each puzzle isn't spelt out, but all will become clear after a bit of fiddling ... well, almost all. For one puzzle you do need to search the gameworld for a clue and for another a slice of luck is what you need most. Here I am referring to a puzzle with numbers on a grid. The big clue is right before your eyes but getting to the right answer isn't so easy. To help out with the puzzles there's a hint sheet available at the official website, but for me at least, it didn't make this particular one easy, especially as it has multiple answers and only one is correct.
Other than abstract puzzles there's also a handful of inventory items to use appropriately, and the wise animals of Heagaron have important clues for you to watch out for. Still because Timba is so skewed toward abstract puzzles, even the story or the 'history' is ultimately a puzzle; it fits more comfortably under the 'puzzle' label rather than the 'adventure' label.
As a home-grown shareware game put together by one person, Timba has some rough edges and, of course, it lacks the sophistication of the big commercial games (there are no voices, only music), but it's still big and beautiful and eminently playable. It shows just what you can do with a good imagination and an adventure authoring tool such as Adventure Maker. A lot of effort has obviously gone into the game for some great results. It's certainly worth a look for puzzle fans, especially as you can download the demo and try before you buy. Why not visit the Timba website and make up your own mind? Why not support a budding game designer? You never know, it might inspire you have a go and make your own game J.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2002.
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