“ An action adventure game set on the doomed space vessel: Starship Titanic. Developed by Simon and Schuster Interactive and published by Zablac Entertainment. „
Douglas Adams was notoriously lazy and undisciplined. 'Starship Titanic' was probably the project which meant the Salmon of Doubt was not completed before his untimely and tragic death. Was it worth it?
I'd have to say 'yes'. This game never really changed adventure gaming in the way I'd hoped it might, but it stands as a great testament to the potential of the genre.
The player's task seems simple. To repair and restore the stricken Titanic, then pilot it back home. To achieve this, you need to interact with both objects and a range of neurotic robot characters (who vary in their insanity).
The story is essentially a straightforward treasure hunt. Solving puzzles to reach parts of the sabotaged central computer. Several things mark 'Starship Titanic' out as different, however.
First. Character interaction. After years of point and clicking, Starship Titanic marked a welcome return to my favourite form, old-fashioned text. The player can say absolutely anything to characters. True, their responses are still limited, (some of their answers are carefully crafted to give you the impression that you've stumbled on some clue), but the perceived greater flexibility is a refreshing change. The moods of characters can also be changed. Sometimes they'll be helpful, sometimes not (unlike games such as 'Blade Runner' which just pretended they'd done serious AI work). This aspect of the game is also where all the Easter Eggs are found. Try dropping in references to 'Doctor Who' or the 'Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' for mildly amusing responses.
Second. Design. The starship, far from being a soulless sci-fi steel lump, has been decorated in far-out Art Deco style. An astounding amount of work has been put into the lavish background art. The canals are particularly breath-taking, along with Titania's control centre. From the game's extended introduction, as a deranged robot attempts to tidy the wrecked player's house, it's clear you're in for a visual tour de force.
Third. Humour. This game has been produced under the supervision of Douglas Adams, as such it would have been odd if it had been entirely serious. The 'Forgotten Python' makes a couple of appearances in the game, and gets his old chum Terry Jones to add his voice to the wonderfully irritating Parrot. There's a lunatic cod-Irish barman with an odd cocktail fetish, and a psychotic French waiter with his 'Achilles Buttock'. Add a chatty bomb, and some bizarre creatures that form an unreliable internal postal system and you have, ooh, minutes of hilarity.
Even better, the Bomb is voiced by an uncredited John Cleese, although this was denied at the time of the game's release. I was so chuffed when I realised it really was him.
This game does have one major flaw, however. It's DIFFICULT! Right from the start, I had very little idea what I was supposed to be doing, let alone how I was going to achieve it. Eventually I got used to the rather vague approach to solving puzzles (even when you've figured out a problem, you often need to spend a while fiddling with levers), but this is not a game you'll finish in a hurry. Still, if you really object to challenging games, you can always cheat and download the complete solution!
A lot of thought has gone into this quirky adventure, and it really shows on the screen. The text interface recalls the glory days of the text adventure, and the sumptuous artwork is still breath-taking, even though the game really is knocking on a few years. We may never have got the completed Salmon of Doubt, but Starship Titanic is an interesting entry in the history of computer gaming, and I'd be incredibly surprised if anyone expected you to pay more than a couple of quid for it these days.
Douglas Adams, the writer of ‘the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’, among other books, and now the creator of Starship titanic. I absolutely love his books and guess what…I absolutely love this game. It is a first person game. The game starts in you nice home, what to do in the evenings, I know lets go onto the computer. Hmmm, what to do. Let’s play starship titanic. At that point your house is smashed by the real starship. Yes thats your house you can see on the front of the box...no its not an ant! At this point a little man-like robot comes out. This would be Fentible, the doorbot. He says, “Oh human…oh don’t worry no harm done, no harm done. Just a little scratch to the paintwork. Luckily your house was very soft!” this is how it all starts. He then gets you on board and gets you a SEC (Super economy class) ticket, even though there is no one else on the ship… Starship titanic is a 3 CD game. The installation for this game is very simple and you needn’t worry about having to change all the CDs around as it also has the option to install it completely onto your hard drive for best game play. This will take about a gig from your hard disk but its worth it and you can always delete it and reinstall it if you need the space. The idea of the game is that something has gone wrong with the ship and they need your help to fix it. Once he Fentible gets you on the ship he gives you your P.E.T., your personal electronic thingy. This allows you to interact with all the other robots. This is what I like so much about this game, I will go into more detail about the PET a bit later. You’ll meet many robots all malfunctioning in someway or another. Three robots you will get to know well are Fentible and Krage, the bellbot, as these two you can call from anywhere in the ship (bar some places). The other bot you will get to know is Nobby, the soldier, apparently, who is of the ‘verticulo-hor
izontal passenger transport systems division’…basically he’s the liftbot. Eventually you get upgraded to second-class and then first-class slowly getting more and more privileges. I won’t ruin the ending for you I will just say that you end up having to fix the whole computing system of the main computer, whose parts are scattered around the ship, and get yourself home. There are many different areas to the ship and each one you need to do something to complete a different task to get the different components, e.g. get such ingredients as a lemon, one crushed T.V. and a glass of starling purée to make a cocktail to get a component. It is such a good game! The different places are as follows: Your room: SEC: Basically a box that has different folding objects. The only purpose is to get upgraded which is easy enough as long as you remember you are the only one on the ship! Hint hint. 2nd class: Hmmm, the only think here you do is get the ear of the main computer by giving that damn parrot what he wants...PICSTATIO NUTS!!! 1st class: Now here you can have lots of fun...clicking on and off lights, watching the T.V....OK the only thing you do here is find the eye. Bar: Here’s a funny place. If you ever do get this game go to the bar and ring the bell lots! In the bar you will meet Fortillian, the barbot. He is full of old stories but you can only ever get half of it out of him. And I‘ve decided I’m not going to tell you anymore where to get things...that’s half the fun! First class restaurant: Oh now here’s a funny place. You are first greeted by a French robot, just ripped in half, and you must do something (very funny, but still not saying) to get past him because he is very bad tempered. Also you must have recorded a tune of Boppys to get what you’re after here. The music room: Here you will find Boppy and his robot friends. They are a robot
band but you must control how they play. This is done by a lot of buttons and push bars, there is a way to find out where they should all be instead of guessing by the way...you may want to sit on it...hint hint. The arboretum: Yes the starship has an arboretum. The only difference is that here you chose the season (once you fix the fuse for it). Winter with all its snow, autumn with, well, no leaves, summer with all the flowers and spring with lots of lemons. The suc-u-bus: These are everywhere in the ship and it is a transport device. It sends something from one place to another unless you don’t give it a location in which case it goes down below and you have to go and get it...unless it’s a nice chicken in which case it will eat it. But you’ll find out how to get it from one place to another through the suc-u-bus with out loosing it. They are all the main places. Now for a bit more detail on your PET. Your personal electronic thingy has many options. Save and load, a place to store where rooms are, a place to keep objects, a ‘remote control thingy’ and a place to interact with the robots. This is where this game differs from most others. In starship titanic you don’t click one of the optional lines you could say. You type what you want to tell them and they will react in different ways. I’ve talked to Krage before now about many wonderful fishy things. This provides real brain power and keeps you on what is happening, as with many role-playing games where you don’t decide what to say you may end up thinking, ‘oh yeah that would be good to say, didn’t think of that.’ Or even worse, ‘why does he want to say that?’ and completely loose the plot. Not here! The manuals for this game are great. The large manual is actually a ‘First class in-flight magazine’ and tells you stories about the robots and little articles etc. basically giving the cha
racters some background. The manual inside the CD box is the one if you need help playing the game. It has help on installing, running, using the PET, uninstalling and help with using the suc-u-bus...which is needed when you play the game for the first time. Unfortunally there is no online gaming but if you think about it...what could you do online??? I would recommend this game to anyone. As long as you have lateral thinking and have a taste for RPG games. It goes from a shabby room, to a rambling old liftbot to a bomb that looses its count if you try to break its indestructable glass ("When this ship blows up this glass will be the only thing left of it!!! So LEAVE IT ALONE...where was I??? Damn!") or when you try and disarm the bomb but..."nobody likes a smart ass". It takes a while to complete and maybe a bit of insanity but what the hey...go for it! Keep the comments flowing Chris & Tony
Despite ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ making its way onto the home computer almost two decades ago, it author, Douglas Adams, has managed to distance himself becoming involved with the scene himself. That is until the release of Starship Titanic, where he stated that he believed that computer technology had come on far enough to be able to create the kind of game environment which would be able to do justice to his ideas. Strong words and perhaps enough to convince many of his fans that this game is one worthy of shelling out their hard earned cash for, but were they justified?... The plot behind Starship Titanic is somewhat weak. You begin the game sitting at home, in your front room. Despite there being a number of doors, objects and exits, the only thing you can actually do is switch on your computer and insert a CD-ROM into the drive...whereupon a large interstellar space cruiser(The Starship Titanic) comes crashing through your ceiling. You are then introduced to the first character in the game - the robot doorman, Edmund Fentible. He tells you that the Starship Titanic is a mobile space cruise ship, crewed only by robot staff, he is the Doorbot, you are invited along for the ride and find out that the ship is unpiloted, out of control and malfunctioning as are all of the crew and it is therefore your task to find out what is wrong with the ship, fix the problem and save the day...all in a normal day’s work... When it was first released the game looked superb and it was hyped to death at the time as well, so I had high expectations of what it had to offer. Sadly, I have so far been disappointed. This is not the immersive, deeply involving and humourous sci-fi adventure game which it masquerades as. It simply fails to build up any atmosphere. Wandering around a deserted(apart from the bots) space ship with seemingly little to do other than solve extremely annoying and often completely unintuitive puzzles simpl
y does nothing to create an atmosphere - it is just flat and robotic in itself. You, the player, are not drawn into the plot in the way that a good advenure game should do. There is little mystery - little intrigue and as a result I personally found that I couldn’t give a damn why the ship had been sabotaged and wondered what the point was in running around trying to save some robots anyway. An interview with Douglas Adams led me to believe that the communication with the robot crew involoved a sophisticated parser which enabled a conversation to develop which may indeed be quite meaningful - not perfect obviously, but at least workable which sounded like a rather impressive leap forward in gaming technology. In fact, what there is here is nothing better than the kind of thing seen in the old style text adventure games. There are a selection of answers to the questions and commands you need to enter to be able to complete the game, but all other lines of inquiry are met with a selction of stock answers which often do not make sense and do not answer the simplest of questions. Obviously no one expected an implementation of advanced artificial intelligence here, in a game which was first marketed with a street value of around 35 pounds, but at the same time I expected it to be better than this. Nonetheless, ‘conversation’ with the various crew members which includes the doorbot, deskbot, bell bot and numerous liftbots as well as an insane parrot voiced to great humour effect by Terry Jones(Of Monty Python Fame), is amusing at least for the first time, if some of the conversations drag on a bit, such as the opening one with the doorbot, which treats you, the player, as if you are a five year old. You are asked to click a button on the lift because the doorbot has lost its aim due to the malfunctions for example, which is plain silly and pointless. Many of the actions here and throughout the game are accompanied by an animation sequence which
flows smoothly and looks very good, but can be skipped if you get bored through pressing the escape key at any point which is something to be thankful for if its the 100th time you’ve reached this part of the game. These animations and the graphics in general look very pretty, very well drawn if a little confusing at times, where for example it took me ages to find the lifts because they blend into the wall unless you face them directly on...which you wouldn’t really do unless you though there might be a lift there! The robots are very ‘minimalist’ in their design, looking more like fancy standard lamps, than your typical sci-fi creation. Their animation is good, and the voice-over actors play the parts well and there are some funny lines here, however, the overall characterisation is somewhat weak and therefore the different characters are never really convincing which is a shame. Sound effects are the standard things you would expect from any modern game - anything short of superb is a massive let down. Here there are some extra touches to add to the humour element of the game, from the ship’s communication system, which chimes in at regular intervals with a funny comment related to onboard life(Much like the tannoy in Theme Hospital), as well as character voices being provided by the likes of Terry Jones who plays the parrot(carrying on the Monty Python theme). Overall then, is this game worthy of your hard earned cash? Well...ummm...no I suppose would have to be the answer. Despite the praise heaped upon it when it was released I personally found it to be one of the most boring adventure games I have played for a long time. The cut scenes were simply far too long as were many of the conversations with the robots, one of the earliest jokes being based upon your choice or room for instances which goes on for ever before coming to a rather unfunny conclusion - leading you no further on. Whilst the graphics are good, they are
nothing special, and really there is nothing remarkable here. It simply isn’t intriguing and overall not a lot of fun, as you spend far too much time wandering around trying to find something to do rather than the puzzles coming thick and fast and no atmosphere is generated... Final Verdict - wait until its on a budget label if you are a fan of Douglas Adams, otherwise give it a miss entirely.