After a long hiatus from gaming, Scott Adams, the prolific author of many Adventure International games in the 1980s, is back, for better or worse. As the fifteenth entry in Scott Adams' celebrated SAGA adventure series, Return to Pirate's Island 2 is at best an anachronistic game that might have been considered good if it were released 10 years ago. Unfortunately, IF games have gotten better with time, and Mr. Adams seems reluctant (or oblivious) to change with it. |
At first glance, RtPI 2 looks promising. It sports a Windows 95/98 interface, complete with shortcut icons for the most common commands, such as LOOK AROUND. In the game, you play the same protagonist as in Pirate's Island -- the first SAGA adventure released over a decade ago. After the harrowing adventure in the first game, you are finally on your way back, only to wake up groggily on your ship to the sound of a screeching alarm clock, and everything looking very blurry....
Once I had a chance to explore the ship and type a few commands, I found, much to my amazement, that the parser is hardly improved over its archaic predecessor. Hard as it may be to believe, RtPI 2 doesn't have most of the convenient features that today's IF fans expect. The parser doesn't recognize common words such as OUTSIDE, pronouns, or many abbreviations (e.g. "x" for examine) that have become the norm in modern IF titles. Worse yet, it responds with a very annoying and totally irrelevant "from here you see nothing special" stock response when you EXAMINE objects that look interesting. This is just simply bad coding, and makes me feel as if the game was rushed out the door, for some reason.
Is RtPI 2 a bad game? Yes and no. On the one hand, the game is still full of fantastical settings, colorful characters, witty writing, and fiendishly clever puzzles that SAGA fans have come to know and love. On the other hand, it is severely clastrophobic given the recent advances in modern-day IF. Long before the end, you will be so tired from fighting to communicate with the parser that the experience is more trying than fun. If modern-day IF classics such as Curses-- or Infocom, even, -- never existed, I would have enjoyed RtPI 2 a lot more. The game feels as if Scott Adams is oblivious to the progress modern IF titles have made in the past few years, after Infocom's passing. Except for some cosmetic improvements, such as Windows front end and a lot of funny sound effects, it's still the same primitive verb-noun Scott Adams games many of us used to play. The game boasts an on-line hint system, although it is not very intuitive as you must type HELP ON [object] to get hints-- something that's hard to do when you just want help with a situation or non-object puzzles.
The bottom line is: if you like the first Pirate's Island game that was made over a decade ago, and don't expect any improvements in gameplay mechanics, you might like RtPI 2. But for $19 asking price? I really don't think so-- at least not when so many better IF titles can be downloaded and enjoyed for free from the GMD Archive. RtPI 2 is a curious piece of anachronism, but little else, and a big disappointment overall for Scott Adams fans.Reviewed by: Underdogs