Alabama Smith In Escape From Pompeii Review
Posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Alabama Smith?? Yes, it does sound a lot like that famous archaeologist whose adventures we watched in four movies, but it isn't.
Alabama Smith In Escape From Pompeii is a seek and find game that tries to capture the mystery and excitement of lost secrets in faraway lands. It starts with our hero, Alabama Smith, being selected to study at the University of Naples for the summer and getting mixed up in a dark mystery.
That's the premise of the game but, since this IS a seek and find game, the actual gameplay is a bit less exciting. Seek and find games require the player to look at a cluttered scene on their PC and locate objects. In some cases, finding the objects is enough but in other cases, users are required to either solve puzzles with these objects or create an object from several parts.
Alabama Smith In Escape From Pompeii requires you to use different objects to solve puzzles that open cabinets to reveal more objects or uncover secret passages to reveal entire rooms. Many of the game screens are very dark which is an attempt to capture the "Archaeological Adventure" feel which has been a movie staple since the 1930's. Unfortunately, it just makes you squint and look for the gamma adjust on the game and then on your monitor.
As with all seek and find games, a large monitor helps.
with time If you get stuck on a puzzle, you can click on the gold bar next to Alabama's picture and gold sparkles will be displayed where a missing object is. Make sure you've already grabbed all of the visible objects before using this or you'll waste a clue. The gold bar takes awhile to regenerate so you can't get multiple clues at once.
This game has another seek and find standard which is finding the difference between two screens. According to the "story" you have to put things back before leaving a room so you're presented with side by side images of a scene that's identical except for the items you must find. As before, you can use the hint bar if you get stuck.
Not much action in this scene The worst part of this game is how they move the storyline forward in such an intrusive and longwinded manner. Alabama Smith has a jarring resemblance to "Frodo" from "Lord Of The Rings" and keeps on popping up to announce to himself that he's made a great find or to talk to another character. The lousy "Clutch Cargo" style animations between Alabama and the other characters consist of graying out the side of the screen with the listening character while a text bubble appears next to the talking one. I can deal with the bad animation but they seem to take forever to convey very little information. I've seen this handled much better in other games of this type.
This is how I rate Alabama Smith In Escape From Pompeii:
Cost - Cheap - less than $10
Available Platforms - PC Only
Gameplay - This is a decent seek and find game. Unlike many seek and find games, items are proportionally sized based on the surroundings which makes finding them more intuitive. You won't see any light bulbs the size of a basketball!
Unfortunately, it is marred by the really dark scenes. You can stare right at something and not see it due to the lousy contrast. Maybe your eyesight is better than mine and this won't be a problem.
Graphics - Very Dark! You'll be searching for the gamma controls in no time. The "Clutch Cargo" style non animations between search scenes get annoying and really don't add anything.
Originality - There's nothing original in finding ancient lost secrets. The gameplay doesn't break any new ground either.
Strong Points - Challenging puzzles.
Weak Points - Too dark to see objects in many cases.
Boredom/Frustration Ratio: 1/3 - Some of the puzzles and scenes are really good in this game but are so dark that you'll be pushing your mouse toward the help bar in no time at all! I know the dark screens try to create a mood but they've gone overboard in this case and raised the frustration level.
Overall Rating: 6
Conclusion:This game has many things going for it, interesting story, good puzzles, and attractive artwork. Unfortunately, much of this is ruined by screens that are too dark and needlessly overlong conversations between characters. If you can turn the brightness WAY up on your PC, this may be the game for you, however, I was left in the dark.
Download Alabama Smith In Escape From Pompeii from The Shareware Genie and try it for one hour free. The price has been reduced to $9.99.