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Kingdom: The Far Reaches - Full Motion Video Adventure on CD-i

>> Thursday, July 5, 2007

Our 3DO specialist at 3DO Zero described the local version of Kingdom: The Far Reaches so good I use the same introduction for the CD-i version: "This could have worked. Kingdom, in my opinion, was 90% of the way to being an all time great. The hard work had been done. The graphics are very pretty and all hand drawn and must have taken hours and hours. But as with most CD-i games, for every diamond, there is always a bit of dog pooh. And in almost sickening predictability it is in the game play department of Kingdom - the far reaches. It's another interactive 'cartoon' movie. And it is not a good interactive 'cartoon' movie. It did however try something that every other interactive movie - ever - had never even tried. Freedom of choice. Rather than the traditional Interactive Movie approach of wait for the right moment and then press a button, you were presented with a map and allowed to click freely. That's right: within Kingdom you could choose a location at random, and this is where Kingdoms developers got it wrong."

As an adventure game, Kingdom: The Far Reaches lacks interactivity, depth and fun. As an "interactive movie", it's in dire need of decent characters and an intersting story. It'll wow the kids at the CD-i kiosk in the store, but gets tiresome quickly.

Kingdom offers a new variety of game experience -- players see a brief bit of animation, then must choose between items in the inventory, click a ''hot spot'' on the animation screen (an item to pick up or a path to walk), or use button two to select a different location from the map.

Some reviews have compared Kingdom to Dragon's Lair, a comparison I find extremely misleading. DL and the other Bluth games have their roots in fast-action arcade games. Like Pac Man and pinball, they have point systems, and don't allow the player to increase his abilities as the game progresses. But with the stop-start nature of Kingdom, and its very limited universe of possibilities, a comparison to RPGs isn't entirely accurate either. More than anything else, it reminds me of those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, in which you'd read a page, pick one of two options, and be sent to a different page.

The game opens with a flashback scene showing the last battle of the "Argent Kings", as their line falls to the forces of evil. The full-screen cel animation is of middling quality, better than some TV but nowhere near feature film quality in terms of frame rate, color, angles, sophistication, and aesthetics.

But the animation is a far cry better than the writing, which is the worst kind of fourth-rate J.R.R. Tolkien borrowing. The hero, Lathan, is a bland little apprentice-twerp; his mentor is faux-Gandalf without anything interesting to say; and the secondary characters are the usual fantasy epic supporting cast of dwarves, medieval city-dwellers, desert nomads, and pseudo-Asian mystics. And for a would-be "interactive movie", there's no story as such -- you go from place to place, exchanging items you pick up, trading up to get items that will let you access more of the three kingdoms.

Maybe you never noticed other adventure games were lacking in that respect, probably because those games broke up the travel-meet-and-barter cycle with puzzles (or, in Zelda, Link, and Taito's Cadash, with arcade-style action). In Kingdom, you naturally focus on the story and characters -- because there simply aren't any other game elements -- and the denizens of the Far Reaches aren't up to the task.

Game-play gets tiresome because you see the same clips over and over every time you re-visit a scene, with no way to cut them off. And while the characters you meet give you helpful tips, you'll be quickly overwhelmed by the all the names of the indistinct places and objects (is the crystal in the Black Keep or the Temple? And what does it do? And now that I think of it, who told me?) To stretch out the animation, some scenes replay the same video with characters saying different things. But to prevent a lip-synch problem, virtually every speaking character is seen from behind. Never before has MPEG been used to show the backs of so many heads.

The goal of the game is allegedly to retrieve five powerful relics and free the kingdoms from the shadow of evil -- stop me if you've heard this before. But "The Far Reaches" only features the first three relics and three kingdoms. Invest 20 hours to beat this game and what you get is a big ''to be continued.''

CapDisc claimed in CDi magazine that there are 300 locations in the game, but this cannot possibly be right. Even accounting for places that don't appear on the main game map (for example, the rooms inside the various palaces and temples), there are only about 60 locations in the game. Perhaps CapDisc was referring to the number of video clips, or to the number of animation backgrounds produced. At any rate, with that many locations, and just 18 objects to be found, you can expect to finish the game fairly quickly.

Kingdom's game-engine could be the start of something big -- it offers a vivid audio-visual experience and a very easy and intuitive interface. But if a game... or an interactive movie... is to emphasize going places and talking to people, those places and people must be far more dramatically compelling than they are in these Far Reaches.

Credits: Chris Adamson, Will, Daan and "Le Monde du CD-i" (pictures)

1 reacties:

Joe,  July 6, 2007 at 11:17 AM  

never liked these games either. beautfiful to watch the cartoon, but it's so damn hard and frustrating. All these 'cartoon FMV's' I think are frustrating, not the best CD-i had.

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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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