Review by Al Giovetti
Genre: Animated Graphic Adventure
Developer: Perfect Entertainment (TWG Perfect 10)
Requirements: 386 DX, 33 MHz, 580 KB free RAM, 5 MB hard disk space, 1X CD ROM drive
In the United States, its Stephen King. In the United Kingdom, the top of the best-seller charts is occupied by Terry Pratchett’s books, which have sold over 7.5 million copies. Terry’s books describe Discworld, a fantasy world of wizards, with humor replacing the normal, unending, mindless combat seen in most fantasy games and stories. Terry Pratchett’s literary style resembles the serious British humor made popular in America by the Monty Python troupe and other shows such as the Black Adder. Marketing giants at Harper Collins, Pratchett’s publisher are hoping that the release of Discworld, a grphic animated adventure game with voice overs by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, Tony Robinson of the hit series Black Adder, and Jon Pertwee, one of the seven Doctor Whos, will spur the sales of Pratchett’s books to new heights.
The main character in Diskworld is Rincewind, with voice by Idle. Rincewind is an inept student magician whose main talent is an instinct for survival, honed by many years of fleeing in terror ant the slightest threat. Rincewind’s companion is an animated piece of sentient and sapient pearlwood luggage that follows him around like a love-struck little puppy. Thankfully, there is little violence in Diskworld, and those who do engage in it are so inept that they rarely succeed in causing any real harm. Dragons, however, have a penchant for pure mayhem, when they have time between vain preenings before their image in any mirror that is handy. A dragon is Rincewind’s antagonist in the Diskworld game.
Discworld’s 320x240 pixel, high-resolution, comic-book-like, super-bitmapped background and character graphics and up to 50 frames-per-second hand-drawn cel animations are colorful and highly detailed. The animations employ smooth sprite scaling to produce fluid front to back animation for all characters, without jerk or pause. Explore time and space through move than 100 background locations populated with over 100 characters with which to communicate. Normally, the interface is seen in third person, side view, with Rincewind walking around in the scene with the other characters. When exiting the side view areas, a top-down, aerial map view replaces the side view. Clicking on the aerial map takes you immediately to the location selected. This map system serves as a rough auto-map and a transportation system that connects the many distant locations in the game.
Music, sound effects, and human speech are excellently performed in Discworld. How can such tongue and cheek fail to please? The Old English elevator-type music is very calm and soothing, while the numerous creakings and gas-lettings are well-defined sound effects.
Communication and interaction with the world is through a simple interface that involves single and double, right and left mouse button clicks. Double clicking on a character brings up a unique conversation table enabling Rincewind to talk, question, joke, get angry or end the conversation. Clicking appropriate objects on characters also will initiate conversations and advance the plot.
The puzzles are treasure hunt-type, and the hints and associated jokes are obscure examples of the outrageous British wit. For example, to catch a butterfly hovering just out of reach, floating on Rincewind’s breath, put a frog in the throat and reduce the breath, allowing the butterfly to float down into Rincewind’s reach. Fluttering butterfly wings cause rain, so travel back in time and place the butterfly where a character will be the next day to cause it to rain there, so he will hang his robe on a nail for you to steal.
Inventory is held in the small, one-item inventory of Rincewind’s pocket and the bottomless inventory of the sentient and animated pearlwood luggage. Many plot elements require Rincewind to access areas without his luggage and to select one item of inventory to test on a possible plot element. In one such event, Rincewind must climb to the top of the tower with a mirror and attached string to tie to a flagpole to gain dragon breath. But should Rincewind forget to tie the string on the mirror first, he must return to the chest and make the climb all over again. This type of puzzle and restrictive inventory is divisive and annoying, and is the one storm cloud hovering over an otherwise bright and delightful translation of literary genius.
Easily the best part of the game is the humor. If you leave the game unattended, a built in screen saver moves Rincewind to the front of the screen, where he peers and prods the screen while screaming, "Helloooo. . . iiiss aaaneeeebooodeee theeeree?" Clearly, this is the screen saver of the season. Other scenes pit Rincewind against aging faculty of the Unseen University of Magic, who continually call him breakwind. To gain entry to the palace, Rincewind must get the two guards fighting over whether their wives are fat or ugly. The agile, simian librarian is particularly adept at retrieving books, but gets violent if Rincewind mentions the words monkey, ape or simian terms.
Discworld is a third person, side-view, graphic, animated fantasy adventure based on the award-winning British comedy/fantasy books of Terry Pratchett. The delightful game is excellently complemented by the professional voices of Eric Idle, Tony Robinson and Jon Pertwee. Gratuitous sex and violence is replaced by bad jokes and "tasteful" episodes of comic sex and other pratfalls. Highly recommended.
Al Giovetti, Discworld, Computer Player, volume 1, number 12, May, 1995, pg. 42-43, 9/10, (90%). Reprinted from Computer Player with permission.
Al Giovetti, The Computer Show, February, 1997