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Does Starship Titanic Sink or Swim?
June 8th 

Randy: Hey, Gary, why are you kicking that box around the cave? Are you still mad about that Star Wars debacle?

Gary: Yeah, I am still mad about that. I mean, what are the odds that the projector would break on opening night? After we stood online for two hours in the rain?

But that's not why I am kicking this box around. Now I'm mad at Douglas Adams.

Randy: Why? What did he ever do to you?

Gary: Well, first he claims to love Macintosh, and his game Starship Titanic came out for the PC first.

Randy: Man, you need to chill out. That's not his fault. Simon & Schuster made that call. And besides, Starship Titanic is out for the Mac now.

Gary: Yeah, I know and I played it last night. That's why I am kicking this box around.

Randy: C'mon, Gary. Let's go play it for awhile, and I am sure that you will rethink your position. That game is supposed to revitalize the adventure game genre. After all, since the last good adventure game was Riven, everyone has proclaimed adventure games a thing of the past.

Gary: Exactly! Especially since we love adventure games and even developed our own adventure game, I was really counting on Starship Titanic to show the naysayers that adventure games are here to stay.

Alright, buddy, let's go to the game room and play for awhile.

(fourteen hours later)

Randy: Can I see the box for Starship Titanic?

Gary: Sure. Here you go.

(boot!)

Gary: Hey! That's my box! I didn't say you could kick it!

Randy: Well, I could kick it to you and you could kick it back.

(fourteen hours later)

Gary: Man, aren't getting tired of this? We should talk about the game.

Randy: Okay. Starship Titanic is a game developed by Douglas Adams, author of such hilarious books as "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and ???

Gary: We were really excited about the prospect of Mr. Adams creating an adventure game, because we are huge fans of his Monty Pythonesque sense of humor. Of course, he would probably say that Monty Python has a Douglas Adamsesque sense of humor.

Randy: The game starts out as you, the player, are at home and a huge spacecraft, the Starship Titanic, crashes into your house. You are "invited" to board the ship and "asked" to help figure out why the ship is malfunctioning.

Gary: And that's where the trouble begins. You have to wander around the ship, working your way from third class to first class in order to gain access to more areas of the ship.

Randy: At every turn, you meet kooky robots that are on the fritz, and a nasty parrot (voiced by Monty Python's Terry Jones) that help or hinder you depending on their frame of mind. The comedy is sharp and we did laugh quite a few times.

Gary: There is even a speech recognition engine that was developed for the game that allows the player to talk to the bots by typing whatever they want. Pretty neat.

Randy: But, alas, the game doesn't live up to its expectations. The main problem is inexplicable playback problems. Digital movies play incredibly bad, jerking and sputtering, even if the video is in a tiny window.

Gary: I thought the problem was because I had used the standard install, which requires the CD-ROM's (even though I used a beige G3 with a 24X CD-ROM drive). The standard install requires a whopping 650 megs if hard drive space.

Randy: So, we found an external hard drive, and did a full install, which requires a stunning 1.3 gigs of hard drive space. The playback problems persisted. We can only guess that the movies were optimized for PC's and no effort whatsoever was taken to make sure that they played at all on a Mac.

Gary: The playback issues were so bad that they really took away from the gameplay. Forget about speech being synchronized, much less transitions working smoothly.

Randy: Also, while the bots do recognize a lot of what you say to them, they often respond inappropriately. For example, I asked the liftbot, "What's up?" and he responded by saying that if I wanted to go up, I had to tell him which floor I wanted.

Gary: Part of what makes an adventure game work is if it draws you in and immerses you in the experience. And that's where Starship Titanic falls flat. The playback issues and weird responses from the robots constantly remind you that you are playing a computer game that just doesn't work quite right. I could never get into the game.

Randy: Also, we were terribly disappointed that this was an adventure game that just doesn't work. It will be up to someone else to save the genre of adventure gaming.

Gary: Well, Randy, the time is here. The Idiots must now give Starship Titanic a stick rating.

Randy: I give Starship Titanic, drum roll, please…two sticks.

Gary: Unfortunately, I must agree. Two sticks it is.

Randy: It's a shame that we had more fun with the box than we did with the game itself.

Gary: Kick it over here, buddy. First one to get it past the other one ten times wins.

 

  Starship Titanic gets At least Leonardo DiCaprio isn't on this one.

Starship Titanic
Simon & Schuster
MRP: $49.99
 

The Idiots use a four stick rating system to rank the games we play. Here's how it works:

= Lame = Sales Bin Only = Pretty Cool = Excellento!

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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