>> Monday, February 19, 2007
Episode 1: Treasures of the Lost Pyramid. This hints at a series with more than just one game, but apparently developer Compact Disc Incorporated changed its mind during the years. When Philips developed the CD-i format together with other companies like Sony and Matsushita, I don't think they planned on taking the whole software publishing all by themselves. However, things changed a lot and in the end 95% of all games were published by Philips, with a few notable exceptions. One of them is Pyramid Adventures, a highly entertaining platform game for CD-i.
Developer: Compact Disc Incorporated
Publisher: Compact Disc Incorporated (Marketed by Philips)
Genre: Platform game
Review date: February 2007
Required: Digital Video cartridge
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >7
This game was worth a sequel, but Compact Disc Incorporated was not just a games developer. People who know CD-i will remember Compact Disc Incorporated also from Memory Works series. This was also published on CD-i in 1997, aimed at a professional educational market. The title including its sequels were transformed to CD-ROM as well. Nowadays, Compact Disc Incorporated is known by Memoryzine, and still is a company that is focussing on The Memory Works®, which offers Memory Training Programs designed for everyone seeking Memory Improvement.
Pyramid Adventures was not focussed as a normal game either, although it's a dedicated platform game just like Christmas Country and The Apprentice. In fact, this was not even a retail game. The main theme of this game is 'nutrition'. It was a sponsored project by the USA National Cancer Institute. Don't be fooled though, Pyramid Adventures main thing is just entertainment, and if you don't want to learn something about nutrition, you can still play a fun game.
I'm still a little confused about the copyright. I'm not aware of any other version than CD-i, but apparently the software was written in 1993. However, the manual is copyrighted in 1995, and the disc itself sais it's printed in 1996. I got my copy ten years later because in the ninetees it was not possible for me to get this USA import. Even more, I didn't even know its existence.
The music was written by Tony Trippi, somebody that will bring back memories by some of you. Tony Trippi was the same guy who was responsible for the soundtrack of Laser Lords, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, Mutant Rampage, Sargon Chess and Alice in Wonderland (All CD-i titles).
Let's have a look at the story of the game. The story is based on a childrens book, so basically this is a game license of a book, written by Jack Sughrue. It is about Dr. Olivia Pitt, a world famous archeologist.She and her nephew Dash Daniels discover an ancient and mysterious pyramid in the egyptian desert. Minutes after Professor Pitt and her nephew set foot inside the pyramid, the door rumbles shut behind them and the evil Pharaoh Antu captures here. It's up to Dash and his cat Mozart to discover Aunt Olivia's whereabouts and free her. They need her help to rid the Lost Pyramid of its awful 4000-year-old curse.
During the game, Dash gets advice and gifts from Tofu, God of Wisdom, and Yam, Goddess of Good Health, who appear mysteriously beside him. Your quest is to save Aunt Olivia and restore the healthy lifestyle of the pyramid by defeating Antu and his evil minions. Dash has entered the Lost Pyramid wearing his backpack and carrying his slingshot. The pack contains all the items Dash will need for a successful adventure. Some items you will earn (gold, extra lives), some you will pick up along the way if you are careful and observant (rich cakes for your slingshot or carrots). Some you willbe given (such as Yam's Pyramids of Life), some you will buy (like the bedroll from Atsap). As Dash you must examine everything, click on everything and try everything to learn everything about the Pyramid's strange secrets and creatures.
The Pyramid of Life helps you to understand the USDA Pyramid and what is necessary at each level to feed Sebek the Devourer and get safely through the Mummy Mazes. It also helps with feeding the sphynx, the Mummy and yourself well-rounded, healthy meals. Clicking on each area of the Pyramid will display the food group with a number of recommendations. This is in fact the educational part of the game, but very important to proceed in the game. That is, because dash has to eat and sleep during the game, and you have to take care of that. As you proceed through the stages of the Pyramid, you will also need to eat and sleep more often. When you go to the Vending Machine Pantry, you will need to buy food from the five food groups, avoiding those foods laden with fat, salt and sugars. The Sphynx won't be happy with those foods, neither will you. When you need to feed the sphynx, his chomping image will appear in the display.
However, this whole eating procedure is implemented in a fun way, and it is built as an objective system as we find nowadays in first person shooters, which I find very innovative. It is actually a platform game with objectives. Deep, clever, interesting. Then we have the Nutrition Action Arcade. It permits you to step out of the Pyramid and get into the Arcades. In one Arcade, the crocodilian Sebek the Devourer wants only food which is appropiate for the food-group level. You have to choose the appropiate food, pur it into your slingshot and feed him as he comes towards you. In another Arcade, the heads of mummies roll after you in a maze. You must rush to the blinking food before the mummies reach you.The Arcades are the way you can earn gold pieces. With the gold you can buy peripherals that will help you along the way in the Pyramid. A great alternative game element.
Throughout the game are wonderful pictures, stone carvings, ruined statues, islands, pits... Look at everything, cracks in the wall, tunnels, treasures...The game is filled with stuff like this, and it makes the levels very interesting. The primary focus is to make children and adults aware of positive effects of a healthy lifestyle. A good balance of proper nutrition, exercise and rest. The script for this multimedia nutrition education game was written by an elementary school teacher who was taught good health habits for over 20 years. The project received direction and funding from the National Cancer Institute of the USA.
Fun, yes it is. The game mechanics are on par with the high standard of platforming on CD-i. It's not as smooth as in The Apprentice, but right after this it goes into the top. Walk, jump, kill enemies a-la Super Mario, find doors and items. That's the whole story. And once in a while you'll get some side info about the fruit you just found, or why you got a certain objective (mostly about finding some healthy food instead of just snacks!)
It's a pity this game is pretty rare on CD-i. It never got a lot of attention, probably because this was no normal retail game. But it is a very nice platform game equally fun and good as Christmas Country and The Apprentice. It's more difficult, you actually have to do something to proceed.
Nice they made good use of the extra memory of the DVC, which you can see in the smooth scrolling mechanism including background music and SFX. Nice, graphics are not high-res but fitting a cartoon style in 256 colours. Animation is also done very nice, with a touch of Goblins/Discworld over it (if you catch my drift).
Excellent soundtrack by Tony Trippi, the same guy who was responsible for the audio at Spinnaker/Animation Magic. Varied, melodic, fun.
Good, fast responsive controls. Nothing wrong with the controls, it plays well like a platformer should.
You'll be busy finding everything and reaching the end of the game for hours, but if you can stick to the end, I don't know. The downside of it all is that it can get a little repetitive and tedious after a while. It's fun for sure, but you have to everything a lot of times, over and over again.
Overall: 7 (not an average)
Similar games on CD-i:
The Apprentice, Christmas Country, Super Mario's Wacky Worlds