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Inca: CD-i Review

>> Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back in 1993, this title was highly over-shadowed by Philips’ high profile title: The 7th Guest. Compared to this one, Inca looks pretty bad. That’s unfortunate, because there’s a highly clever story and gameplay behind the title. According to insights Inca was one of the most expensive CD-I games to make (along with The 7th Guest). Does it show? Not really, but the port from CD-ROM may have caused several problems to run it smoothly on CD-i. However, this game is big, and its story is very well worked out. Why did it receive so little attention?

Facts:
Developer: Coktel Vision (Sierra Online)
Publisher: Philips Media (France)
Release: 1993
Genre: Adventure (with action/puzzle elements)
Review date: January 2007
DVC Required: NO
Recommended: Mouse/Trackball
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >12+

One thing that hooked me to this game was the setting: It is based around an ancient Incan world flooded with science fiction and folklore. I will explain the story for you: In a drift from time and space, you awake to fulfill a destiny set over 500 years ago. You have to save the lost Incan civilization. This “Back to the future” idea marks a very original game, a true blend between action and adventure, born in a rich past, set in an unknown future.

The game has been developed by French based Coktel Vision, which showed the potential of designer Pierre Gilhodes. Pierre also gave the popular “Goblins” series (from parent company Sierra) its visual style. Inca offers different styles of different game genres, put together with a clever story-line. Something that would never work in theory, but it unfolds beautifully in our imagination. Then comes the true point: You will only appreciate Inca to the most if you are immersed to the unusual theme, which is based on both facts and fables.

The story starts in 1525, and an Incan ruler named by Huayna Capac tells a story about the Tawantinsuya Empire. Capac predicts the arrival of disasters like floodings and earthquakes. He talks about “beared savages”, thieves from Spain lured by tales of El Dorado. According to the legend, El Dorado was an Incan Chief, celebrating typical rituals by covering himself in gold dust. He is called “The Gilded One”. As a sacrifice to the God of Nobility, he washed off the gold in Lake Titicaca. Incan followers also toss gold into the Lake to worship the God of the Sun. Seven years later the Spanish thieves started to battle with the Incan community. The Incan army was soon defeated, but the thieves (led by Pizarro) never found a lot of gold. It’s the credo of Capac: The real treasure (Inca knowledge) will never be found. Now, we go 500 years into the future and we’re boarded at Paititi, a lost city adrift in space. The spirit of Huayna Capac approaches you and welcomes your return as El Dorado. Soon Capac tells you about the Incan Sun which has to be recovered by retrieving the three missing jewels: Energy, Matter and Time. In order to find the jewels, you have to gain trust from various spiritual protectors and defeat evil powers of Aguirre (symbol of the spanish thieves).

The game itself follows a lineair path divided in three parts: One per jewel. Ofcourse, every part increases in difficulty but also in diversity: The most fun parts of the game occur in the latter stages. Especially the end scene where you have to fight the Spanish Galleons, huge three-masted ships firing cannonballs: amazing stuff. It offers a mix between arcade action and mind buggling puzzles, going from 3D space combat in first person perspective (Like in Kether), to logic puzzles as found in The 7th Guest. Unsolved puzzles will hold your progress, and you will be killed by failing the arcade shooting scenes. The save system works with periodically passwords which saves a lot of memory space which is a big plus (regarding the very minimal memory capacity of CD-i). After each stage you will receive a password, so you can continue from these milestones.

The interface of the game is cursor based with different functions in two available modes: Cockpit-view (space arcade scenes), and Ground-view (3D mazes). The cursor serves as weapon crosshairs and as a pointer to which direction you want to go. The screen in where it all happens is pretty small, probably because of the limitations of the gaphical power of CD-i. The screensize during space-fights is as large as the Ground-view scenes. You’re not only fighting though, you also pick up items like keys. In ground-view, you’re fighting Aguirre’s warriors in 3D mazes, with plasma bolts instead of swords. The sound effects are of very high quality and the digitized video is implemented well, although it could have been a lot better using the Digital Video Cartridge.

The graphics interface makes use of both 3D polygons (space scenes), digitized video (character models) and detailed bitmaps (puzzles). The sound deserves a special mentioning: Sampled effects like footsteps and slamming doors are of very high quality and gives the game a nice touch. Coktel Vision offers full character voices (all in true Audio CD quality) in various languages including Dutch, French, Italian. Excellent stuff, this is something I’ve never seen on a different CD-I title. One of the biggest flaws with Inca is with its speech. It’s all going pretty fast and there’s no way to hear it again, so if you’ve missed it, you might have missed very important information to go on. The puzzles sometimes require simple hints of Capac, so you have to listen carefully to him. Another flaw is in the speed of the 3D mazes, it comes a little tedious and dull to find yourself wandering not knowing where to go and coming across the same warriors over and over again. Here, the loading times are a tad long, but hold on, because you still want to know what’s coming next: a charme that keeps Inca hooking you to the screen.

End comments:
Inca is highly underrated and doesn’t get a lot of attention these days from any CD-I enthusiast. It definitely deserves more: it offers a challenging mix between arcade and puzzling, a quite original ancient space theme, a long quest to go through, all presented in your local language. If you want to have a diverse game, Inca should be considered. However, it’s a hit or miss game, if you don’t like the Incan theme, you might enjoy the future minded Burn:Cycle a lot more, which is in fact the same kind of game offering the same game elements like action and puzzling.

Graphics: 5
Low-res, bland. Inca screams for a Digital Video version. The cut-scenes could have been a lot smoother, character models are integrated from real actors, which gives it a natural touch. The overall game is very dark, and the 3D mazes aren’t realtime, but exist from pre-rendered scenes. The play-field is very small (half the screen), obviously to prevent the game from getting too slow..

Sound: 8
The soundtrack offers over 40 minutes (=14 tracks) of original New Age music, performed with authentic Incan woodwinds. Another extra is the minor hit single of J. Marrier: “Inca People”. The main menu allows for instant access to the audio tracks, and it’s a minor pity the tracks aren’t offered as an Audio CD, just like how SPC Vision has treated their games on CD-i. All the audio is presented in high quality, and the effects are implemented very well. Without a doubt the best bits of Inca!

Playability: 7
The game plays very nice and doesn’t suffer many slowdowns as I expected. However, exploring the 3D mazes asks for a lot of patience, and responds slow to my movements. However, there aren’t any long loading times, which feels great. The puzzles are clever and sometimes difficult, and the shooting scenes are very smooth. There is no detail level as in Kether, but it definitely plays very well.

Value: 6
The game is pretty long and will keep you busy for a lot of hours. But, after you’re done, there’s no reason to come back. Been here, done that. Some parts can get a little tedious, especially the 3D mazes. However, if you use a walkthrough you can skip them really fast. In Fights are fun though and you can return to any specific scene to replay, which puts it back on the map.

Overall: 7 (not an average)

Similar games on CD-i:
Burn:Cycle, or a combination between Kether and The 7th Guest.

2 reacties:

Peter,  February 2, 2007 at 5:06 PM  

I remember there was also an Inca 2, right?

Bas February 4, 2007 at 2:09 PM  

Yes, Peter, there was. Although it was a CD-ROM only release. I don't think Philips wanted to fund Inca 2, as sales of Inca were not outstanding. Unfortunately 3rd party developers weren't eager at all to fund CD-i projects all by themselves, so Sierra (Coktel's parent company) focussed on CD-ROM...

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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