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1999

Starship Titanic

Conceived by celebrated author and longtime Mac user Douglas Adams, Starship Titanic has finally emerged on the Macintosh platform almost a year after the PC version. However, the Mac version surpasses the PC version right out of the box—it includes the essential Starship Titanic Official Strategy Guide, which PC users have to buy separately.

Here's the story: The luxury spaceship Starship Titanic crashes into your house on its maiden voyage, and after you climb onboard to investigate, it takes off. Your goal is to find your way back home. Although the beginning of the game is somewhat jolting, once you board the ship you'll want to roam about and talk to every inhabitant. In fact, talking to characters is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Starship Titanic. This game features one of the most dynamic language processors ever, which allows you to have real conversations with the game's central characters. There are more than 16 hours of recorded dialogue and a library of more than 10,000 popular references. Try asking the Doorbot about the Spice Girls, or ask about Douglas Adams himself. Hilarious!

Although Starship Titanic is a typical click-to-move graphical adventure game, it's also full of entertaining puzzles that require some pretty strong brainpower to solve. In fact, one of the reasons for including the 176-page strategy guide with the Mac version was that many PC users complained the game was too difficult. Unlike most adventure games, this one has tremendous stamina. By the time you finish playing Starship Titanic, you'll probably want to try it again just to hear different responses to your queries.

Starship Titanic shines in several areas. First, its photo-realistic graphics are superb. The animations of the robots are rarely in sync with the voice-overs, but this detail doesn't detract much from the game. Second, the overall gameplay in Starship Titanic is vastly superior to that of adventure titles such as Riven and Myst—it gives you the ability to carry on real conversations with characters by simply typing your question. You never feel rushed (except when you mistakenly arm a bomb!). Lastly, you obtain room upgrades as the game progresses—having access to more of the ship will sharpen your interest.

Starship Titanic's interface is mostly well laid out, although some of the buttons on the Personal Electronic Thing are small, and it's not obvious what each one does. Call us picky, but we really disliked the hourglass that showed up when the game was loading. Because the game drew inspiration from Douglas Adams, an Apple Master, you'd think the programmers would have honored his tastes by implementing Mac-centric icons instead of the Windows-centric hourglass.

In recent years, adventure games have languished in the context of fast-paced action games such as first-person and third-person shooters and real-time strategy titles. However, there is still room for a nonviolent, family-friendly adventure game like Starship Titanic. Its three CD-ROMs guarantee a longevity you don't usually find in games of this genre, and realistic responses to a player's input add a satisfying personal touch to gameplay.

Starship Titanic serves as a great escape from the many shoot-'em-up games available today—sometimes it's good to take a break from games in which saving the world means blowing up everything in it. Any adventure title is only as good as the writer who has fleshed out the characters in a well-conceived story. Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic is a winner in our book. —Mike Dixon

Great
GOOD NEWS: Tons of recorded dialogue, with a sophisticated artificial intelligence, make for longevity. Includes free strategy guide. The humor of Douglas Adams pervades the game. Gorgeous graphics.
BAD NEWS: Difficult puzzles. Interface takes getting used to.
COMPANY: Simon & Schuster Interactive
CONTACT: 800-223-2336 , http://www.simonsays.com/
PRICE: $49.95 (SRP)
REQUIREMENTS: 120MHz PowerPC or faster (180MHz or faster recommended), Mac OS 7.5 or later, 32MB of RAM, 160MB of free hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive, 640 by 480 display capable of 16-bit color (thousands of colors)