Discworld II: Mortality Bytes!
by Al Giovetti
Price: $40 - $60
Release: December, 1996
Genre: Animated Graphic Adventure
Developer: Perfect Entertainment
Programming Director: David Johnston
Producer: Gregg Barnett
Exective Producer: Angela Sutherland
Creative Art Director: Nick Pratt
Music Director and Composer: Rob Lord
Requirements: 486 DX2/66, 8 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, VGA Compatible, video, 4X CD ROM drive, 640x480 SVGA, 20 MB hard disk drive space, any major sound card, mouse
Company line: What happens when Death takes a Holiday? Plenty, and it's all in the stunning second installment of the innovative Discworld series.
Now the incompetent wizard Rincewind has been joined by dozens of outrageous new characters who populate this incredibly inventive story and its remarkable animated landscapes. And of course there are lots of fiendishly clever games along the way.
The new Discworld includes 25,000 cells of hand-drawn animation, many bizarre characters in outlandish scenarios, humorous gameplay, full screen viewing mode with cinematic effects including fades, pans and close-ups. The new, higher-quality animation in Discworld II brings the amazing world of Terry Pratchett to life as never before. Cheating Death has never been so much fun.
History: When I reviewed the first Discworld game based upon the Terry Pratchett series of bestselling novels, the role of Rincewind, the bungling apprentice wizard, was played by Eric Idle of the Monty Python comedy troop. Other notable comedic talents included "Tony Robinson a.k.a. Baldric, of Black Adder infamy and Jon Pertwee who, needless to say, is known to many fantasy fans as the definitive Dr. Who." It does not appear that Psygnosis is bringing back these excellent voice talents in the next installment, save the wonderful voice of Eric Idle. Oh joy!
Discworld is where the world is flat - as flat as a pizza, and the whole affair, mountains, oceans and all are held up by four elephants, each facing a compass heading, hold up on the world while standing on the back of a gigantic turtle. The turtle swims through space.
Plot: Well all of us have wondered and even speculated on what would happen if death took a holiday, but most of you are probably not prepared for Terry Pratchett's version of this event. In Discworld where the world really is flat, and in fact circular shaped like a pizza. The water drops off the edges of the pizza along with anyone foolish enough to bungle into this area. The gods live on Mount Olympus, and everything is not right with the world. Well perhaps this time we can cheat death in new and different ways while he is having his pint on holiday.
You might ask why Death took a holiday. Well, as usual, it was Rincewind's fault. He was trying to diffuse a bomb and he mucked it up blowing Death to Australia in the process. Well Death decided he needed to catch some rays in Australia and he promptly deposited his carcass on the nearest beach chair and refuses to resume his job of retrieving souls.
OK -- The new Discworld includes 25,000 cells of hand-drawn animation, many bizarre characters in outlandish scenarios, humorous gameplay, full screen viewing mode with cinematic effects including fades, pans and close-ups. The new, higher-quality animation in Discworld II brings the amazing world of Terry Pratchett to life as never before. Cheating Death has never been so much fun.
Rincewind tries to help death to get back into the scythe swing of things, and developes an advertisement to convince everyone how great death is. The musical advertisement has singing and dancing all sung and written by Eric Idle and arranged by Tom Scott (see music below). Death becomes so popular that he retires from the Death business to pursue groupies, merchandising, crowds of screaming fans, and even a talk show contract. Shall we say Rincewind fails again?
In the final chapter Rincewind attempts to assume Death's job and has to undergo an intensive training program to master the refinements of Death's job. In the meantime Death is getting more and more human every day while Rincewind is loosing his humanity. It all has to stop somewhere. Well maybe not with over 100 hours of game play spread over two CDs.
Terry Pratchett wrote the entire dialogue over after a professional writer did an excellent job. We feel that they both have mucked it up, and have asked Eric Idle to look into it. But ever since Idle moved to Hollywood, he is spending all night out at parties and such and he is such an awful mess of fun. But we really wish they would have left in the sheep jokes, puns, and nasty bits, but this is a children's game for adults. Now are you confused? (We do have psychiatrists standing by on the psychic-sex-psychiatry hot line. 1-800-14-MERDE - Ed.)
Characterization: Character design was performed by Greg Barnett and an animation character designer, who will remain nameless due to restrictions on our contract, who has worked with Amblin and Disney and some others we will not mention. The character animation is superb this time around and the production staff should be commended for the good job of characterization and backgrounds.
Puzzles: The treasure hunt type puzzles require you to wonder around in an immense world and stumble onto objects that you put into your inventory and sometimes combine with other objects in totally illogical and silly ways to get to the solution and advance the plot. The collection of the items will require that you retrace your steps with a boring repetition of much scenery and even a few cut scenes. The lack of an effective and consistant animation and cut scene skipping routine does not return control promptly to the game player, thus violating a gamer's cardinal rule. Many will find themselves playing the game for the sheer enjoyment, but will still get angry at this error in command protocols.
Animation: Story boards lead to layout, which went into the animators who drew the animation cells. The cells were scanned into and then colored (used to be the Ink and Paint department) on SGIs using the TOONZ program. Three dimensional cartoon sequences used in cut scenes were developed on the SGI with SofImage. The resulting high-resolution two-dimensional animation graphics are as good as any Disney animated film.
Voice actors: Eric Idle is Rincewind and he is also the voice of the theme song under the name Bone Idle. Nigel Planar, from the Young Ones, provides 20 voices, including Neil and Vilest, a pretty nasty guy. Kate Robins, United Kingdoms leading female voice actor, does many of the animal voices, the female voices, and some high pitched males. Rob Brydon, one of Brittains hardest working voice actors, does the rest of the lot.
Like an animated film, the voice actors do their stuff early in the process giving the artists and story writers inspiration to change already etched in stone scripts and written characterizations. They have fun with the filming, getting the creative juices flowing and really messing up the floor, which is the reason why the last game voices turned out so well. But next time they should put drains in the sound booths.
Musical composition: When using full digital sampled music, you want to set the ambient atmosphere and temperature with well orchestrated little bits of synchronized music, and swimming, (Please lets have a little swimming - Ed.). Three dimensional Q-sound may put you in the mood with sounds coming from behind and all, but I can't wait for smell-a-game, on second though, Rincewind honestly got his name from his ripe odor, which I think I will pass.
The theme "That's Death" written and sang by Eric Idle, who is known for such works as "Its Fun to Charter and Accountant" and other Python tunes plays over the opening and ending credits. The music was arranged and orchestrated by Tom Scott, a very good jazz arranger who scored the Oscars, into a chorus line number, which Idle is quite familiar with, having been a chorus girl for many years.
Multiplayer: Extensive work on the multiplayer game has as yet yielded no fruit, or vegetables for that matter. And we believe that the designers of the game have just become exhausted and do not want to hear anymore of this nonsense for quite a while. Reporters are attempting to locate them in Koala Lumpur and other locations without luck or even sufficient budget. We will keep you posted.
Walkthrough: Click here for the Walkthrough
Summary: This is a highly recommended title for fans of Monty Python, Eric Idle, Bad Singing, Black Humor, and graphic animated adventures.
Cheats, Hints, and Walkthroughs: Diskworld 2 Walkthrough
Journalists: Reviewers cannot make up their minds on this one, the scores seem to range from piss poor to very good. Cindy Yans said the game is much better than the original, bug free, logical puzzles which seem just right, and other compliments and then gives the game a 60%. Go figure. Gary feels there is too much pointless dialog, which translates to mean that he does not like Eric Idle's humor, and a requirement of a working knowledge of the books (I guess Gary is not a Terry Pratchett fan either. -Ed). Good thing other journalists like the product.
Al Giovetti, Discworld, Computer Player, volume 1, number 12, May, 1995, pg. 42-43.
Cindy Yans, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 71, October, 1996, pg. 46-47.
Matthias Jones, http://www.gamespot.com/adventure/discwo/, 50%.
Julie Gordon, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 9, February, 1997, pg. 76, 90%
Cindy Yans, Computer Games, number 77, April, 1997, pg. 85, 60%.
Rob Smith, PC Games, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 72, 85%.
Gary Whitta, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 102-103, 73%.
Scorpia, Computer Gaming World, issue 154, May, 1997, pg. 183 - 184, 90%.
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