Game 98: Amazon: Guardians of Eden (1992) – Introduction

From The Adventure Gamer

Written by TBD

If not for the title, I wouldn’t be sure if it was a jungle adventure game or a pirate game?

Continuing my self-appointed position as official “Access Software” player, despite the previous three Access Software games all being played by different reviewers, I’m playing through a game I hadn’t heard of until it came up in our Year Ahead post – Amazon: Guardians of Eden.

The emerald inside the letter O is glinting. I suspect the emerald is a genie working for an evil Vizier.

The game’s back cover and manual specifically mention that it’s “patterned after those campy, exciting serials such as Flash Gordon, The Lost City and Rocketman” and, though I haven’t seen many of those serials, I know the style well.

For some reason I keep doing games that have been inspired by pulp serials or movies of the 1930s-1950s.

I’ve done the It Came From the Desert games, an Indiana Jones game, the Leather Goddesses games, and now I’m doing Amazon: Guardians of Eden. What pulp serial game will they make next?

I really want to see this serial made into a game. It has a jumping superhero with a revolver, a guy with a jetpack and a Mondas cyberman helmet and a fight between a spaceman armed with a pistol and a robot armed with a hammer. And that’s before even getting to the stratosphere zombie itself!

The manual includes some fun facts on the Amazon. I’m not sure at this point if this is used for copy protection or just interesting facts for the reader.

Will the game at some point ask how many times Texas would fit into the Amazon jungle?

Access seem like they enjoy being one of the first to utilize new technology – they had one of the first games using VGA and used some voiced dialogue as early as Mean Streets, used some real ‘actors’ in Countdown and had some rudimentary FMV cutscenes in Martian Memorandum.

So it’s not a big surprise that this game was one of the first to use Super VGA (which is not just regular VGA that happens to have been born under a red sun.)

Rather than using Super VGA in an obvious way, such us using the 4x resolution to give more detailed graphics, it just has the standard game window take up ¼ of the screen, with the rest of the screen used for the inventory window, chapter icons for quick access to previous chapters (in case I miss some important information I suppose) and some empty space. Weird.

The game window takes up the entirety of my monitor (apart from the black bars I have on each side due to my widescreen monitor) – VGA graphics!

The game window is now on the left middle of the screen but in exactly the same resolution as the VGA version – Super!

I suspect they decided on the Super VGA thing late in development and all/most of the art had already been drawn but they really wanted to use the technology so found a way to shoehorn it in.

As I don’t want to squint to see details in the world and am happy to press a key to access my inventory, I think I’ll stick to the VGA version, thanks. But I could change my mind later if excess inventory manipulation becomes commonplace. The game makes it easy to switch on the fly with a simple Alt-V keypress.

Access software again uses their Online Hint System – online in this case meaning in-game via the ? icon at the bottom of the screen.

I’ve chosen to turn hints off for this playthrough but have the option to just delete my config file and use hints at any point in the future. According to the manual you lose points for using it – you start the game with 170 points;  you lose 3 points for a Level 1 hint, 5 points for a Level 2 hint, and 10 points for a Level 3 hint. If you use all my points you won’t be able to get any more help. As long as you finish with more than 100 points I’ll get the best ending. When I finish the game I’ll be sure to reload and use up a bunch of points so I can see the ‘less exciting ending’ as well.

I like that, in mentioning the hint system, the back of the box makes fun of the system used by other adventure game companies.

Take that, Sierra and Lucasarts! Then again, those hint books and toll numbers made, according to some reports, more money than the game itself. Take that, Access!

Opening Movie

Here’s the opening sequence in full, but if you just want to see the exciting animated cutscene part of it, skip to 2:30.
The game sets the mood right away with the black and white chapter card.

We start with an introduction to the characters – two brothers, Allen and Jason Roberts. Allen is currently in the Amazon basin doing research on… something… we’re not told what.

After a few pages of narration about the brothers, the cutscene continues as we zoom in on a small jungle camp.

The camera pans across in stalker vision, implying someone’s watching the expedition from the dark of the jungle. It’s very cinematic.

Then we switch to a view of a man sleeping in a tent while various shadows cross the front – the shadows draw their guns but fall after the sound and silhouette of arrows hit them. A third shadow appears and is much bigger (closer to the tent) – when the third shadow is shot he falls through the opening, waking the sleeping man.

I’d make exactly that face if my dead friend fell through my tent flap while I slept in my casual jeans.

I think that the surprised jeans man in Allen Roberts – I’m terrible with faces but the other shot we had of him gave him a beard so I’m going with it. We play as Allen’s brother, Jason, who’s just arrived at the office unaware of what’s gone on with his colleagues in the Amazon…

Based on the intro, this game seems to be sufficiently pulp-serial-like, following up on at least one of its back of the box promises. The again it’s also failed in another of its back of the box promises as I don’t find the Super VGA to have unbelievable clarity.

My first look at the interface when I started the game gave me a feeling of familiarity – it’s very similar to the Martian Memorandum interface. Amazon uses icons instead of words, and combines a few verbs into one, while adding a CLIMB verb.

I notice there’s no USE icon, but assume a combination of OPEN/MOVE, GET and TALK will suffice for this game’s purposes

So now to the important question – what PISSED rating will this game get?

Looking at some contemporary reviews:

  • Computer Gaming World had good things to say about the game – comparing the story favourably with the Hollywood era it’s homaging.
  • Dragon Magazine gave Amazon 5 out of 5, but seeing as I’ve never seen a reference to Dragon Magazine giving anything less than 5 out of 5, I don’t think that means a hell of a lot.

Our PISSED ratings of other Access games have ranged from 42 to 53.

My biggest concern after playing Martian Memorandum, which I enjoyed, is will Access Software save some of their budget money for proofreading this time? Having played through the intro and reading the back of the box without seeing a single error, I’m feeling optimistic about the answer. And I’m ready to find out! Let’s go!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it’s an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won’t be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It’s also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

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