July 11, 2008
The first game we'll review, New Robinson, is loosely based on the classic novel by Daniel Defoe and admirably proves that humor is universal. Even if the humor is, at time, toilet-based. New Robinson is 2D animation in the style of the old LucasArts games like Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max. This animation, though, is minimalist and doesn't present a lot of opportunities for red herrings or background detail. The game is in Russian, with English translations at the bottom of the screen, similar to watching a foreign-language movie. Occasionally, a poor English translation will cause unintentional laughter. The music loops soon becomes very annoying, and sound effects can best described as functional--though the voice of Robinson speaking hurriedly in high-pitched Russian does serve to make the character endearing. This is not, though--and this seems to apply to all three of the Russian games I played--a game focused on innovative graphics or fancy gameplay, rather it is more concerned with the plot and the fairness of the puzzles.
New Robinson is the ageless tale of a man, his shipwrecked boat, and his man Friday. It is our task to help Robinson in his attempts to escape from the island, a matter that is complicated by the ineptness of this Russian Gilligan. For survival we will have to find food, build a house, and escape from cannibals. A parrot that lives on the island will offer clues if we are stuck. None of the puzzles are extremely difficult, but at times they make so much sense that the obvious solution can be easily overlooked. For instance, if you have an axe, it is used to chop down a tree. Need to get rid of a crocodile? Throw a stone at it. There are a few wonderfully innovative puzzles that require the player to find salt to use on the fish caught in the ocean and another that requires you to make a candle.
The last third of the game concentrates on your escape from the island, aided by Friday (who is named Aborigini), who becomes indispensable to help navigate a hot-air balloon and escape from pirates.
New Robinson has yet to find a North American publisher and, honestly, most likely never will, as it would be considered outdated by most of the American gaming public. It is, though, a game that is well worth playing for the adventure gamer who enjoys, as I do, experiencing games for all over the world with an open mind.
Final Grade: B