Written by Morpheus Kitami
|Weird, as following the I before E rule|
[Leafing through the newspaper one morning you come across a notice requesting your presence at 'HUGH, PUGH and BARNEY-MAGREW Solicitors to Elizabeth Taylor.' Puzzled (and who wouldn't be), the next day you visit the solicitors where you are told that you have come into possession of a remote island paradise. The island was apparently claimed by five galley slaves many, many years ago; one of whom was your ancestor (its nice to know who your descended from).Ownership of the island passes between the families of the founders every 100 years and your family is next in line to do with the island what you wish. You were supposed to be told this by the previous owner of the island but he seems to have conveniently disappeared. Anyway, the solicitors suggest you go out to the island to see for yourself. Strangely, you feel happy to oblige...]
I see several problems with this. Firstly, while I can believe this agreement can withstand modern times, I'm not clear on how a bunch of slaves were able to keep hold of an island during Roman times, or the Dark Ages. They were galley slaves, you want to tell me that all the Edmunds that were kings in those times were okay with that? Could have just written that I won a contest, dude. I'm American, for one, I'm not going over to jolly old England without being told why without a paid-for ticket. Secondly, I am not an orphan descended from orphans, why do I specifically get this island? Thirdly, what if I don't browse the personal ads?
Weird Island is the sole game of developer Kevin A. Lee, a British man who at one point lived in Coventry. A university student, judging by how he knew he was going to be changing his e-mail in July 1993. If you bothered, for 10£ and above, you could get a registered version, another game called Downtown that is supposedly bigger and better than "Wierd Island", and effectively random crap he made. A good sign, I think. In-game the title seems to be misspelled almost universally, but in the document file its not, the files aren't. This is version 1.1. Does that mean its...intentional...?
For the record, that shareware fee with inflation is like 21£, or some 30$.
This newspaper appears for just a flash. I don't really know why it exists, but okay. There is an opening song...in PC speaker.
|What a beautiful sky|
The boat I presumably just left is leaky and full of holes...interesting. The sign just says this harbour has been closed, violators will be killed, signed Hemorroides. And there's nothing else I can do here. So much for weird, this is more mundane corruption. Gotta say the arrows could have slightly more obvious colors. Like red or maybe black for places I can't go. White and yellow don't tell me much.
|Score one for juvenilism|
Also here is a box. Its a Russian nesting doll puzzle. Open the box, there's another box, until I get a note. "Keep these boxes tidy". To which the fisherman laughs. This does bring up something that makes keyboard only controls a bit troublesome. If there are more than 4 items in your inventory or a scene you have to scroll through them. With the inventory, there's allegedly a limit. Without the mouse, you press either the left or right shift key and up or down. I doubt you could figure that out on your own, but you'd probably be reading the readme file in that case.
|Bear communication not working, requires further research|
|That's not creepy at all|
|I suspect this is another puzzle|
|That's a joke? Okay, whatever|
|I AM A PUZZLE-SOLVING GOD!|
|It's okay, I own the island|
|You'd think a king would have better grammar|
|Water Magic level 100|
|If someone as broad as you can't do it, how can I?|
This opens up a room containing the previous owner and a weapon. At first I assumed this was a trick, but no, this is the previous owner of the island and he's giving me a sword to take out Hemorroides. Cool...cool...At this point, the game stonewalls me. The only things left untouched by me are the statue and the temple door. Nothing I do to the statue does anything and the bell puzzle doesn't seem to have a solution. The statue's nails were painted (from first to fifth) blue orange red green (heh) yellow. Using them in the order of the rainbow, assuming both blue and red as the first, does nothing and I don't see any other way it could logically be solved. And naturally I did the simple 1 to 5 or 5 to 1. The bells don't have any distinct sound, so there's no melody to be had. I could brute force this, but that's a lot of effort for a game I know isn't going to offer me any reward. I don't even know if its going to even work at all. If someone noticed something I didn't, I'll try it and if it works, I'll update this. I consider this a fool's errand, and I'm not holding my breath.
Also, I didn't realize it until I started putting screenshots together, but the previous owner seems to be the guy on the magazine. I'm pretty sure that's another plothole, but I admit, I don't care at this point.
For some strange reason, I felt the desire to return to Weird Island. Starting a fresh game gave me a new perspective. I knew the fish was a red herring, but could it have been a subtle clue? I wrote down colors when they were mentioned or seen through a quick jaunt of the island.
- Blue, start screen
- Red, starting newspaper
- Rusty, boat
- Bloody, fisherman
- Yellow, flower
- Red, fish
- Green, seaweed
Its unclear where any orange is. Sand, maybe? Now, as the above mentioned color list goes, that means I use the bells in the order of first, ???, second/fourth, fifth, fourth/third. Except the intro screens are red herrings, and the first bell is the last. I guess that was the sea. I don't know what the real code is, I just happened into it. Twice, because I was screwing around with it the first time, but chanced doing the bells over the entire game.
The tower is not really worth the pain I had to take to get here. Its just a set of scales. I use the strange rock on it, and a door opens to the west. If it sounds like I'm witholding information again, I'm not. There are two rooms between the scales and here, but there's nothing in them. They're just filler. Not even interesting filler.
|I swear your honor, he was trying to kill me|
I'm face to face with Hemmoroides. Or something. For a game that screwed unsuspecting players out of a bell code, its awfully generous here by not stabbing me in the face if I wait. I can even talk to him and he does nothing. I think this is a poor show for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there's no reason for this guy to be a threat if it's just him dancing in a tower. That's not the villain of an epic journey, that's a character in a Poe tale. Secondly, like I mentioned before I knew what was going to happen, this guy isn't a threat. Its 1992, people are going to have issues with me stabbing someone on my private island. The UN will probably try to sanction me and Bush Sr. will certainly agree to that, its an election year and we can't have tinpot dictators who think themselves above the law.
Hopefully they send someone in an A-10 or a F-15. There's something special about getting hit with a multi-ton bomb vs. some CIA agent poisoning me.
So I win and apparently my island becomes famous for some reason. Well, I say some reason, but I'm willing to be its people looking to be on an island owned by a murderer. Not many islands where you can say that, can you? Something tells me the novelty of that is going to wear off real quick.
The game quits there, with the message:
On the other square, to the left, was elegantly engraved in capital letters this sentence: ALL THINGS MOVE TO THEIR END...
With that, let's get on to the rating.
Puzzles and Solvability:
Puzzles are supposed to involve some thought, right? More thoughts than, well, obviously I have to use this here. Some of these puzzles are so obvious I hit upon the solution without even realizing I solved a puzzle. How else would one interpet me randomly throwing a vine up at a tree? Certainly not satisfying for that matter.
But then we have the parts that are difficult. If I hadn't been randomly using items I would have never thought to blow a musical shell underwater. In a game where I'm a normal human, I have no reason to think that's possible anymore than I think its possible to imagine a new color. Then the bell puzzle, which I'm sure has some obtuse solution I missed. I think of all the adventure games I've played this has to be the worst. Zombi wasted your time, but this just ticks all the bad adventure game puzzle boxes.
Interface and Inventory:
The keyboard controls for this were actually really well-done. Pressing a letter, then two numbers is a really intuitive system. Moving through your inventory items or the scene's items are awkward, but rarely comes up in a troublesome way. Really, only the bell puzzle again, but I'm harping on that now. The inventory limit was effectively meaningless, because every item was used only once, no repeats or anything. I suspect several items were useless, but its of so little consequence that its hardly worth counting against or for it.
Story and Setting:
Like I said at the beginning, the plot of this seems stupid even for a game that isn't focusing on the plot. Did nobody think to be concerned about the previous owner not showing up? Presumably it ends when I murder Hemorroides, which I have no real reason to do so. Sure, he kidnapped a dude, but last I checked the cops aren't okay with people stabbing people for that. Maybe they are in Britain, I'm not sure.
The island had too much dead space in it, presumably meant to show in-game space, but there are like 30 rooms here, some of which have no reason to exist. There are three beach areas for instance, each with the ability to use the sea. Some rooms exist only so you don't find even more items on the regular path. I did find the sandcastle and the underwater area interesting, but not enough to make up for everything else.
Sound and Graphics:
It is rare for PC Speaker to be good. It is rarer still for it to be good after the '80s. By this time, its not really a concern for anyone and I doubt there's much point in trying.
I feel like this guy, if he tried a little more, could do something decent graphically. There's the start of something solid underneathe the awful shading and questionable human anatomy. Perhaps that's intentional. The sepia-tone graphics seem to indicate that was the case. While I like that in theory, the end result is not appealing. I will say it made for some pretty light in size screenshots.
Environment and Atmosphere:
This island feels distinctly like something I'd find in the Pacific Ocean, interesting how some Roman slaves got there. I also get a little Mayan influence from the tomb and temple, what I could reach anyway. Its the sort of thing that should be greatly appealing, but doesn't really feel like that. Its more like seeing Hawaii through the eyes of someone with crippling depression. Its novel, its interesting for a second, its just not something I ever wanted or plan on playing again.
For a game banking on being weird, Weird Island sure feels...not exactly weird. It feels like its trying too hard. Picking up bear droppings feels like something someone pulled out of a hat. It is weird, but at the same time, I spent the entire game holding bear droppings. Its like a practical joke the author is playing on the player. The thing about that is I have to look back on the joke at some point and say, that's actually pretty funny, good job. Bad job.
Dialog and Acting
One of these days, I'm going to play a game with good dialog. Today is not that day.
That's 6+2+1+3/0.6=20. That puts it in basically the same range as the rest of the shareware adventure games. Bad. That's harsh, because this just doesn't feel like a game to begin with, more like something you gawk at briefly before doing something else. But I have to admit this game is going to give me one lasting impression, I'm never going to spell hemmoroids right again. I don't even know if that was right.
Next time, I'm going to tackle a game that befits both the missed and classic part of a missed classic. What did I mean by this?
Total Time: 2 hours