In an exceedingly unlikely plot, a scientist escaping from a country overrun with aliens is shipwrecked on a similarly populated island and forced to collect six fish keys. Mankind's only hope is your exploratory and arcade skills in a huge Palace Of Magic style adventure from Dominic Ford.
The first thing that strikes you about Shipwrecked is that it has all the elements of a professional release. A nice loading screen, full instructions (although the writer strangely mixes up the past and present tenses), a huge number of locations to explore, a variety of puzzles and an assortment of meanies that don't take kindly to your presence! In addition, you'll also find an immunity cheat can be activated before the game is loaded if you wish.
When the game proper has loaded, you are treated to a slideshow of all the different locations you can visit in it. Over these are printed Shipwrecked, its author and the sound options in a customised blue and white font. Each location is a vibrant and appropriate colour, from top-level English red bricked walls to bottom-level eerie green dungeon stones, and each houses a suitable composition of objects, aliens, caskets and water. Look out for the fishes too so you can get a rough idea as to where they're located!
As you might have guessed, a Palace Of Magic comparison is all-invading. You get a side view of all the rooms with many named differently so as to aid rough identification of your position. You are advised to make a map, control is via the traditional Electron keys and your scientist's energy is constantly negatived by brushing against baddies. Gravity will pull you down through any gaps in the terrain and you also need to watch out for water - which is the fastest whittler down of your energy!
If in severe peril, you are immediately transported back to the opening by which you entered the room and can run/fall left or right as well as scrambling up and down ladders. Jumping produces the familiar 'bounce' sound and there are conveniently placed power boosters after those occasions when you may suffer substantial injury.
A nicely framed Mode 2 playing area with multi-coloured sprites also adds to the feel of the game and the mission set to find the fishes is no easy task! In fact, the author recommends at least two hours to complete the jaunt even when you know where you're going. If you sense a 'but' though, here it comes...
Shipwrecked is hard - and one cannot help feeling that this could be the main reason that the immunity cheat is included. Unlike in other arcade adventures, you have only one life and once your energy has been depleted to zero, you bite the dust. Also, your exploration of the game is constantly hindered by doors. To get through each colour-coded door, you need the pass of that colour and you can only ever get through the door by having that pass and holding down key
. This can become extremely tiring as you can only carry two items at a time. So if there are a succession of doors between you, the fish and the control room (where each of the six fishes need to be depositied) you must go through a bizarre picking up and dropping off procedure, frequently resulting in you forgetting where you have left particular passes!
There are two types of aliens: patrolling and flying. The general rule is to shoot them both on sight but the flying ones have a habit of occasionally passing through your bullets [Also, look out for a strange bug that sometimes leaves your fired bullet on screen when it strikes one. Try touching it! - Ed]. These latter, although they cannot fire at you, are pretty merciless. Once they attach themselves to you, firing has no effect and you must run screaming to the next room before they vanish! An annoying waste of energy if your bullet should've taken them out.
While general control of the character is good, jumping takes much more familiarisation. One leap practically clears the whole screen so just hopping from ledge to ledge becomes an art! This is mainly apparent if playing with a Master RAM Board operational though. Without one, although the action is somewhat slower, jumping is a bit less fraught!
These quibbles do indicate two different features within the game. That you are equipped with a gun, albeit rather dodgy at times, is one and that the doors do not disappear when you enter them with the requisite 'key' is another. There are also a number of other puzzles in the game, along the Palace Of Magic lines of certain objects dispensing with certain obstacles. These are left, by both the instructions and this review, for the player to discover!
Only written in 1996 and spawning the aptly-titled sequel Shipwrecked 2 in 1997, Shipwrecked is one of only a few BBC/Electron PD releases that attempted to build on that market Superior Software created with Citadel. Yet these non-scrolling arcade-adventures retain a sense of timelessness even when they are indeed this recent. Perhaps you won't be glued to this for your whole life but it's worth a lingering look!