At last! I thought the day would never come... an original Amiga game! A new form of 3D. No violence. No other human opponent! Instead, you have to work tour way through 9,999 3D landscapes, defeating the huge monolith on each, by first absorbing its underlings, and then absorbing the big guy. The controls are simple. Point to where you want to go and then press the transfer button. It's strategic! It's big! It'll take a long time to complete! (It's a bit like Sentinel, actually.)
Ah! There goes all my hopes and dreams of an original game. Maybe next time. Perhaps there won't ever be a next time. I worry about the state of the software industry at times like this. Archipelagos has to be one of the most surreal and abstract games I have ever played, and even this is comparable to an earlier title. It's just not fair.
In days of old, the Elders (Well, who else would you expect?) were a bit fed up with their boring everyday lives. So they daydreamed, their mental power being such that they could walk into each other's minds - and so they did, each creating a little piece of land within their craniums. Slowly, and after months of hard thought, these islands became real (that's what I call positive thinking). As with almost everything else in life, they soon got bored of the islands and imagined a planet that hung forever in the sky, forever pointing the way North. This too became reality, life flourished on the planet, and flourished life forms saw the archipelagi (is that right?) and they liked them, and took over, destroying anything that tried to win them back.
The aliens have long since gone, but they still hold power over the islands through the mutations they have left behind them. Mobile trees, patches of acidic blood and a couple of interesting small, ball-like creatures wander around the edges of the islands, removing the land as they move. Lost souls sweep around in the form of whirlwinds, contact bringing death.
To top it all, the overall 'God' on each of the 9,999 arches is a pointed, rather phallic lump of rock called a monolith. To beat the monolith, you have to find and destroy all the rocks that are littered about. To destroy a rock, it has to be linked to the monolith by land. If the rock is on an island that isn't connected to the monolith - it's Populous time again - you have to build land. This is easy. Just put the cursor over wherever you want. If there's no land, you put down sand. If sand is there, you put down land.
When you have taken out the last rock, you then have a 90 second time limit to get the monolith and remove it by absorption. DO that, and you get to go onto the next level.
Looking at the screenshots, you must admit this game really does look like something special, and it is. But I was expecting a game so deep and involving that you could play it for hours into the night and emerge the next morning covered in cold sweat. Sadly, it isn't that complex. It's an aspirational test which has very shallow game-playing, and it's one that quickly grows tiresome.
The graphics are amazing, apart from the way day changes into night and vice versa. The feeling of distance is incredible, thanks to 'mist-o-matico-vision-colour'. The colour is graduated, not completely dissimilar to the system implemented on the Archimedes version of Zarch. This, plus the perfect sprite sizing in relation to distance, makes the game a visual treat.
The sound isn't worth interrupting your mum as she washes out the Heinz Beef and Custard Baby food that your little sister has poured over her. The Lost Souls make a wailing, whining sound.
What a shame the game doesn't live up to expectations. Don't get me wrong. I'm not slagging it. It's good, and worth trying out. It's just not what it could have been.