Monday 14 November 2016

Game 77: Eternam (1992) - Introduction

written by Aperama

This game is without a doubt one of the hardest I've discovered to research since beginning this blog. I'm strangely willing to hop in 'head first', so to speak – but that would make for quite a short introductory post. What I've garnered, however, does not fill me up with confidence. Eternam is a title by Infogrames Europe SA, a group probably best known for making largely Amiga action titles in the earlier days of its existence along with some licensed titles. There have been a few unfortunate incidents with them already on this blog, I fear. We're soon to encounter what could well be its best known game in Alone in the Dark later on in the year – a game which just about literally created the 'survival horror' genre. What some of you who follow Chet's blog might know this group for first is Drakkhen, a title so incomprehensible that it was almost impossible to follow...

… which is the game that this one is supposedly a self-aware 'parody' of. Even with Chester's logical, clever writing, I struggled to follow Drakkhen when he played it. I do not feel encouraged by the thought of a game which might well make even less sense. Still, it does have some unique features. One of the most obvious changes to a typical adventure game is that this title takes place primarily through a first person perspective. As a parody of Drakkhen, it maintains the 3D, 360 degree motion (on a horizontal axis anyhow) that the game it parodies uses, with some third person intervals throughout apparently. It also entirely takes place using the keyboard – no mouse whatsoever. 'T' for take, 'U' for use, 'S' for speak, 'L' for look, 'I' for inventory and 'D' for options, along with space bar for 'fire' in the 3D first person sections. I cannot change this selection. Yes, this is as terrible as it sounds in practice, methinks.

There aren't even any fun anagrams for this awkward layout
 – am I supposed to use my LUST ID for something in-game?

So, the issues are mounting and I haven't even gotten to what really has me fearful – Infogrames is French. French people do thousands of things well. Their breads, cheeses and wines are legendary. Their military has had international recognition for years upon years through their Foreign Legion, and their culture is truly astounding. Adventure games they do not do well. In fact, the most painful games I can think of to visit this website have almost universally been French. What's that I hear you say? But that's unfair profiling? The game was published first by Infogrames – but for the later CD-ROM port in 1993, Capstone Software (which is a group that some of you may have heard of, and most of you who have will fear) took charge of publishing it, which gives me an idea of the 'quality' I'm due to expect. The game also has a somewhat prohibitive copy protection scheme which involves using an included package which I'm simply not able to find. The first version I found of the game had an included crack, but I've had one game runup result in a black screen, the 'introduction' doesn't load and I wasn't sure if I had actually encountered the true 'entry' to the game as of first writing this – since, I found a new copy which works far easier and allows the 'introduction' screen to come aboard. Hooray! I'll get to that in my first play post though.

The only version of the game manual I can find is in Spanish – this is what Google suggests..

And what I receive after using the included game crack 

The one positive I will definitely give to this game is that it is ambitious. The few screenshots that I have found in attempting to search up information about this game (extremely scarce apart from a few Let's Play-styled videos which I don't really want to look at for obvious reasons) do show off something that is at least fairly visually appealing, and I'm not really too worried about the game not looking or sounding good. For all that I expect the game to be utterly crazy and borderline nonsensical, I doubt the game will fail in making a spectacle of itself as it does so. French games look great, even if they're largely insane.

This is the opening screen to the game.. um.. I think?

It's fair to say that this is not a game that seeks to invite potential players. Starting it up literally drops you straight into the middle of a field (well, after the copy protection prompt). There is a short message that confirms you are DON JOHNSON.

“Did someone say my name?”

Er.. rather. 'Don Jonz' is going to the 'biggest and best planetary funpark in the entire galaxy', Eternam. Turns out that it is being attacked by the archenemy of 'Don Jonz', 'Mikhal Nuke' (Mickey to his friends). He's a Space Marshal, you see, and he's heading to the Island of Revolution as part of his holidays. There's at least one person on his side – Tracy, a technician on the Eternam coordination team. She's the first person we see on the screen – or rather, the only person. Everyone else throughout the game seems to be drawn in a style reminiscent of King's Quest 7, I.M. Meen and all of the other games Animation Magic had a hand in. This is definitely a compliment, particularly for 1992! Will she actually help? I have no earthly clue, as I can't really look into this and the manual is incomprehensible even translated from Spanish (I don't believe this is a translation issue and rather just the way the original manual was written). Vive le France, right?

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points
: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Example Bet for 20 CAPs (with 20 immediately going to Laukku because I forgot to award them last time around):

Terra jnf bapr srnerq, ohg vf abj zl sevraq
Jul jvyy zl zvfnqiragherf frrz gb arire raq?
Bar bs gur orfg gb cvpx sbe fher
Ohg V'z eneryl gur svefg gb gur qbbe


  1. > What some of you who follow Chet's blog might know this group for first is Drakkhen, a title so incomprehensible that it was almost impossible to follow... which is the game that this one is supposedly a self-aware 'parody' of."

    I didn't play Eternam at the time (I played on Amiga and didn't have a PC) but I remember reading about it in french magazines. I just checked back and while they mentioned that the game used an updated version of the Drakkhen engine, it was not considered as being a parody of it, or being related in any way. It had a lot of various references but I'm not sure there were to Drakkhen itself. It's possible that all the testers of the time missed the point, though.

    1. Finding information about this game is quite difficult without spoilers - save looking through reviews and the like, I went with what the minimal information available suggested. I normally do a synopsis on the manual in my introductions, but this one didn't even let me do that. The 'story' written within is borderline unreadable, with all that really came through with any degree of clarity being the information already on the back of the box.

  2. The translation is quite good. Something more accurate would be "protection sheet" instead of "protective sheet" and "where the appropriate line and column intersect" instead of "where the line and column intersect appropriate"

    40 for me. I remember playing this on my 286 back in the day but nothing else.

  3. To be fair, Infogrames was only publisher of Captain Blood and Chamber of Scifi Mutant Priestess - the real creators of those original adventures went on to make Dune, which we'll be seeing a bit later on this blog.

    This is a rather weird one, and I am quite interested to see how you like it. But your hunch about the interface is pretty much spot on - it would have been better if they had used mouse instead of keyboard.

    I am guessing 45.

  4. I remember playing this game when I was 9. It was confusing at times, with an user interface far worse than in the Lucasarts games. As I am french, I have not been annoyed by translation issues and I remember my father finding the script better than average.

    I guess a 48 : translation and UI issues, along with some very badly desinged puzzles, will prevent it from reaching a better grade.

  5. 49 for the score. Hopefully it will be interesting to play (or at least for us to read about!).

  6. Never heard of this one, so let's kick it to the random number generator with a...56!

  7. No idea, but the protagonist ( I assume) kind of looks like He-man, so.... 50

  8. I'll guess 46. Does that box screenshot really say "143 speaking characters"? That seems awfully ambitious.

    I used to work with someone whose name was Don Johnson. When I first met him, he introduced himself by saying, "Not the actor." I wasn't familiar with the reference anyway, but I gathered that a lot of people had trouble not thinking about the actor when they met him.

  9. Something's coming, and it does not smell good...I'll guess 40.

  10. Dice says 37. And that was a rather good google translate, the result could have been much worse.

  11. (Nobody noticed the riddle, or I simply made it too cryptic?)

    1. I usually don't bother with them, because I am too lazy to un-rot13 them. Fun note: "Terra" rot13s to "Green", that's cute.

      Riddle answer: vf vg bar bs gur xvqf sebz Znavnp Znafvba/Qnl bs gur Gragnpyr, znlor Oreaneq?

    2. Also, "vex" rot13's to "irk."

    3. Correct, Fry. Bernard (moreso from Maniac Mansion by the clues - he was actually the kid with the most 'special skills' in spite of also being the most cowardly.)

  12. I´ll go for 54. As far as i can remember, this is a very strange game.

  13. A French game in English with a Spanish manual. Here's where the fun begins...

  14. I played, completed, and have returned to this game many times over the years (mostly for the cd sound track) I also have darken on an atari5200st FM This game was fantastic the humour was on point and the interface whilst novel made perfect sense coming from the Atari era, though in retrospect use of a mouse would seem like a better choice it was not the first choice back in the day. I believe I am what is called a true fan, Don is a childhood hero of mine along side the likes of the teenage mutant ninja turtles, it may simply be that if you were not there at the time you could not appreciate it in the same context, much as many these days can not appreciate duke nukem.