Verschollen auf Lost Island / Missing on Lost Island
Verschollen Auf Lost Island loosely translates as Missing on Lost Island and although the title is a mixture of German and English, don't be alarmed. The game itself has English dialogue and subtitles. It's a third-person perspective, mouse controlled adventure and though it is a recent release it is very much in the tradition of the 'old-school' adventures and pays homage to 'classics' like the early Monkey Island games and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and indeed, films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The introductory sequence shows a modern young couple (Tim and Diana) walking home at night when they stumble across a pirate with a wooden leg who is supervising the loading of a strange, futuristic craft. Disturbed by the couple's presence the pirate shoots Diana with a laser gun. Tim draws his own more conventional gun and shoots back. The assailants disappear and Tim goes to help Diana who also disappears leaving only her clothes on the pavement. Another man with a laser gun approaches from behind, a struggle ensues and Tim is also shot. He too disappears.
In this game you guide the actions of Tim and when he materialises naked in a crater your first task is to help him preserve his modesty so that he can free his hands for other duties. After the rather serious tone set by the introduction the game settles comfortably into a humorous traditional-style adventure where you explore, talk to other characters and collect items to help you overcome sticky situations. Your main aim is to find Diana and return to your own time and place but in doing so you will encounter pirates and visiting aliens in wolf masks.
The puzzles, as you might expect in this type of game, range from the wacky to the absurd and are a lot of fun. Amongst other things you'll have to find your way out of a deep crater, prove yourself worthy to join a ship's crew (sound familiar?) and, provided you don't get your fingers burnt, negotiate a small maze. The more 'serious' among you may complain that some of the puzzles are obscure or illogical and wonder why you can't smash something open with the sledgehammer you are carrying around when another item does the trick, but that is the nature of this sort of adventure. You just need to get in the right frame of mind. It's certainly a game that will have you trying everything on everything at times and don't forget that you can combine items in your inventory.
Most of the puzzles are of easy to moderate difficulty so you will move along fairly quickly and this contributes to the feeling that the game is quite short, which it is. Some puzzles can be solved in different ways and there are at least two different paths that can extend the gameplay if you save your game and solve both paths. (Hint: Save your game when Tim is suspended over a well). I must admit that I am not a fan of branching paths through a game as I like to feel that I have seen and done everything. I much prefer game developers to concentrate on providing more locations and puzzles to solve to extend the game rather than offering choices about which way to go. To save and restore simply to try an alternate route to the same end only seems to me to break up the flow of the game and there is always the real chance that you'll miss a path completely.
All in all Verschollen Auf Lost Island is an amusing game with some delightful animations. There aren't a lot of characters to talk to and there are no seriously extended conversations. What 'action' there is takes place in a few, largely humorous cut sequences. Make sure you save your game towards the end (Hint: After Tim and Diana make it back to the surface) so you can enjoy the four possible endings, two happy and two not so happy.
Navigation is straightforward and the cursor changes to indicate the actions you are able to perform. The game plays in a full screen with just a small bar at the bottom to access your inventory and options. You can also simply right click to bring up your inventory. Tim will comment on items that you 'look' at and will let you know if he is unable to carry out your desired action. Though strange comments and odd text descriptions of items within the game reveal a less than perfect translation. There is also a show-stopping bug that prevents you from moving on after you complete the first part of the game. It's hard to believe that this slipped by the play testers. However, there is a patch available (see below) that fixes this and you can run it before starting play or after you encounter the glitch.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2002.
All rights reserved.
Pentium 100 MHz, Win95/98/2000/ME/XP, 64 MB RAM. 4X CD-ROM Drive, DirectX Compatible Graphics and Sound Cards, 450 MB of Free Hard Drive Space, Keyboard and Mouse.