Golden Gate article by Al Giovetti


Golden Gate
Preview by Al Giovetti, 10/04/96
Review by Al Giovetti, 06/06/97
Price: $30 - $45
Genre: puzzle solving adventure
Release: November, 1996
Developer: IX Entertainment
Programmer: John Smith
Music: Tom Senning
Art: Tony Welch
Producer: Alex Kazim
Publisher: Panasonic Interactive Media
Phone: 888 PANAPIM or 408-653-1898, 408-653-1888
Website: http://www.panasonic.com/cool/gallery/gg1.htm, http://www.panasonic.com/cool/upcom.htm
Requirements: Windows 95 and Mac, 486DX2, 66 MHz, SVGA video, 2X CD ROM, 16 MB RAM

History:

Plot: The treasure of King William is over 200 years old and was stolen by the Kingís evil sibling. There is a saying "you can run but you cannot hide." And run the brother did to the new world as a missionary. Life took a turn for the evil brother who began to leave a trail of good works which ended in the San Francisco Mission of Asis. The evil brother was pursued by his daughter Alexandra, who pursues him to retrieve her inheritance.

Alas, the daughter is killed by pirates just a few miles from her father, and thus the treasure begins to weave an evil tapestry of tragedy linked irrevocably to the tragic history of San Francisco. The 1906 fire was caused by one of the evil artifacts killing a newspaper editorís family, earthquake, and the fever of the Gold Rush results in civil unrest where a thief is caught with another artifact. In World War II a doctor obsessed with a patient who describes secret wealth and demons dies. Fire, eathquake, war, and civil unrest cannot extinguish the path of destruction which like a flame to a moth, leads more and more victims to their destiny. The player gets embroiled in this tale upon meeting an old treasure hunter who passes his research on to begin another tragic quest.

You take the role of one gripped by an obsession, in Golden Gate. From lost journals and crumbling letters to enigmatic omens of mysterious glimpses of the past, the clues lead you on to fortune, or doom, in this fascinating treasure hunt through the colorful city of San Francisco! Golden Gate weaves together past, present, fact, fiction, and folklore in a first person adventure.

As in most games, the ending is not very satisfying, so enjoy the game while you can, eventually you will have to win, and then it is all over.

Game play: The first person point of view, 360-degree, scaleable navigation system allows players to turn in any direction. Once pointed in that direction you can proceed by steps or jump across the entire city. The game sports point and click interface with an inventory system and hidden clues for the puzzles. The game play is entirely non linear leaving the player free to roam and explore 90% of the world without solving one puzzle.

Puzzles: The game offers ten puzzles as diversions from the plotline. The puzzles are related to the story line. One puzzle is the shipís wheel on a four-masted grain trader which will reveal the location of a necessary artifact owned by an old sailor.

Interface: An intelligent cursor keeps track of the possible directions and move that the player can move. Mouse and keyboard input makes moving through an area quicker and more efficient. The inventory forces the game player to revisit areas to reclaim items. The hypertext automap system also is a travel and transportation system that warps the player to their destination without any additional repetitious walking. Hot spots are immediately identified by the interactive cursor.

Graphics: Full-motion video, over 2500 hand-painted 16-bit watercolor images, and archival film footage of old San Francisco are combined to make a unique 640x480 pixel resolution, ultra-realistic environment. The water colors are consistent with the mysterious and dark elements of the story, making the world a photo-impressionistic existance. The photos are artfully done and convey a mysterious almost alien landscape.

Animation: Over 50 ambient animations combine with over 15 minutes of authentic vintage video footage of the turn of the century San Francisco to provide the backdrop for the action. The full motion video was shot with a professional cast dressed in period costume on actual locations.

Puzzles: The puzzles are fewer than one would expect in this type of game. Mostly the puzzles are finding the clues which are buried, within buildings, or just lying on the ground.

Music score: Over 70 minutes of CD-quality audio makes up the original musical score composed by award winning composer Tom Senning.

Sound effects: The virtual lack of street sounds and other things common to San Francisco such as sirens in the distance, bells, boat horns, and other far off sounds make the setting even more eerie than the weird graphics.

Utilities: Custom authoring tools and efficient CD ROM layout reduces the RAM required and increases speed and smoothness of program execution. An intelligent caching system allows the music score to play continuously

Multi-player: Multi-player features are not supported

Future plans:

Internet: The internet web site of Panasonic is tragically weak and devoid of any real information.

Company line: "A complex, multi-layered plot makes Golden Gate a deeply moving, fully integrated, truly unforgettable interactive experience," is the Panasonic company line.

Cheats, Hints, and Walkthroughs:

Journalists: Colin says, "Were it not for a few quality titles such as Circle of Blood, I'd be convinced that the PC adventure genre has gon the way of the dodo, only to be replaced with tiresome post-Myst puzzlers like Golden Gate."

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References:
Cindy Yans, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 71, October, 1996, pg. 52.
Julie Gordon, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 12, May, 1997, pg. 87, 70%.
Colin Williamson, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 5, May, 1997, pg. 128, pg. 128, 31%.

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