80 Days


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Frogwares Game Development Studios

Publisher:    dtp and TriSynergy

Released:  October & December 2005

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium 1GHz and AMD Athlon, 512MB RAM, 4MB DirectX 9-compliant video card, DirectX 9-compliant sound card, 8x CD-ROM, 2GB free, Hard Drive Space, Windows-compatible keyboard and mouse



Additional Screenshots




by looney4labs


“I can’t go around the world by myself.”  Oliver Lavisheart


Oh, golly, have I been having fun.  Take a look at a few items from my To Do List for this past week.

  • Ride an elephant on a mission to free a friend -- check
  • Rescue the beautiful girl -- check
  • Capture the bad guys -- check
  • Zoom around San Francisco on my magic carpet -- check
  • Pilot an airship -- check
  • Liberate a beauty from the harem -- check
  • Sneak into the Shogun’s palace -- check
  • Update the décor of a dirigible, while it is moving, of course -- check
  • Survive the Trial by Fire -- check

Of course, these are just a small sample of my accomplishments this week as I accompanied Oliver Lavisheart on his trip around the world in 80 Days.  What a good time we had! 

This game is a third person, 3D adventure based loosely on Jules Verne’s classic novel: Around the World in 80 Days.  It overflows with humor, which is sometimes subtle, sometimes not.  80 Days is a game that pokes fun at itself, and takes the player along for a diverting ride.  It is also a graphically beautiful game, immersing the player in a sumptuously detailed environment.  The puzzles are engaging, running the gamut from the easy to the challenging.

80 Days offers three different levels of play, Adventurer, Globetrotter, and Tourist.  This choice is made at the beginning of the game, and cannot be changed once you’ve started.   According to the manual, “Adventurer” is for the person looking for a difficult challenge – time on this level moves the fastest, you have to carefully monitor the “Tiredness Gauge” to keep Oliver from sleeping on the street, and you get the least amount of startup money.  (This was not for me.)  “Globetrotter” has a time limit, but the days pass more slowly and you start with a moderate amount of money.  “Tourist” is the easy setting.  The time limit is disabled, and initial funds are plentiful.  The level of puzzle difficulty, however, is not affected by the level you choose to play. 

I played on the Tourist mode, and enjoyed it very much.  Even when Oliver dawdled through a city, and wasted time and alertness sleeping wherever the urge overtook him -- upon moving to a new location, I was magically on time again.  (I loved that part.)  And I never ran low on money.  (Another way I could tell I was only playing a game!)     

Story: “A real novel, isn’t it.” Uncle Mathew to Oliver

80 Days gives a new spin to Jules Verne’s classic story.  Oliver Lavisheart sets out at the behest of his Uncle on a round-the-world tour a la Phileas Fogg to recover patents belonging to his Uncle Mathew.  Why?  To save Uncle Mathew’s standing as a “Pulsative Engineer,” and incidentally, to postpone a marriage not of Oliver’s liking.  Oliver follows the same route that Phileas followed and must finish his quest in 80 days, or the family fortunes will be forfeit and Uncle Mathew shamed.  Along the way, Oliver zooms through Cairo, blasts through Bombay, sneaks through Yokohama, and dashes up and down the hills of San Francisco.  As the game progresses, we learn there is a deeper story here, but not until the end of the game is all revealed. 

Did I Hear That Right: “I’ve grown attached to my head.” Oliver

To my great delight, I discovered that this is not a game that takes itself seriously.  80 Days mocks itself frequently by weaving references to many modern-day icons into the story, alongside the 1890s period dress and décor.  Bill Gates, Ringo Starr, Michael Jackson, eBay, the Super Bowl, and Steven Spielberg are just a few of the many icons of modern life on the receiving end of a gentle jab.  I loved it!  It gave me a sense that the writers had as much fun writing the game as I had playing it.

This sense of playfulness was intensified when I completed all the missions at my first destination and was rewarded with a hilarious MTV-like production number featuring all the non-player characters (NPCs) that Oliver had met in that city.  This was repeated each time all the missions in a city were completed, and always brought a smile to my face. 

Characters: “I don’t make the rules.  I just live by them and try to put kilts around them.”  MacFly to Oliver

Oliver moves through a game world peopled with NPC “characters” (as we so politely call them in the south), including -- but not limited to -- a vampire, a turtle painter, a seasick ship captain, a diva with a voice that is definitely not Memorex, and a whole plethora of Scottish kilt salesmen out to conquer the world.  Frogwares, the developer, advertises the game as having more than 100 NPCs.  While I did not count them, I can well believe it.  These characters are often colorful, eccentric, and a little over the top --okay, maybe a lot over the top.  This adds to the playful attitude of the game.

Graphically, much attention to detail has been lavished on the main characters and major NPCs.  However, the minor NPCs who don’t have a supporting role to play in the game’s plot or missions aren’t as elaborated.  

NPCs roam throughout the game world.  None ever seem to be in a hurry, even when they are about to be hit by a speedster or a rolling wheel.  They stroll and stride around, stopping to talk in groups.  I loved seeing all the different nationalities represented, as well as seeing crew members or fellow travelers at each destination. 

However, I did notice on many occasions that Oliver would run past a minor NPC -- only to have the exact same one saunter into view a few steps later, coming from the opposite direction.  I felt as though I had a bad case of deja vu!  I found this distracting in a game that paid so much attention to other details.  Making each NPC a unique individual would have improved the game.

Dialogue with minor NPCs was also a weak point.  While most of the dialogue with the major NPCs is hilarious, trying to talk to non-mission-oriented people in the game usually just resulted in something like “Go away, stinky foreigner,” or “I don’t care.”  There were a large number of NPCs, but only a small number of lines for them to say.  I eventually stopped talking to the people in the street unless I knew that I needed to in order to complete a mission.

Graphics: “…only artists and smart people allowed in here.”  WTO employee to Oliver

80 Days is a bright, beautiful, colorful game.  The game world is vividly rendered, and attention is paid to small touches like color gradations and shadows.  There are none of those dark spots found in some games which have you adjusting the monitor to see the screen better.  The settings are lush and opulent.  There are real-time features, including time-of-day and weather effects.  Sunny days are full of dazzling light.  Even after night falls, the light was bright enough to accomplish the tasks at hand without eyestrain. 

This is the kind of game (in Tourist mode anyway) where you can walk around for hours, drinking in the atmosphere.  For instance, in one location – the cruise ship -- I loved hanging out and watching the bubbles in the underwater bar.  I ambled along the corridors of the ship, remarking on the classic-style posters decorating the walls.  Tongue-in-check, perhaps, the posters were all of Verne’s most famous novels.  I noticed posters for From the Earth to the Moon, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Five Weeks in a Balloon, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  The different styles of shoes outside each door in the corridors made me laugh.  This attention to detail contributed greatly to the overall immersive “feel” of the game. 

I have only one complaint, and it is a small one.  In spite of their beauty, certain parts of the environment seemed “flat.”  I could see the texture, but not “feel” it.  The ocean was a beautiful blue, but never had waves.  The sky was bright and inviting, but clouds never floated across it.     

Sound: “…like a choir of angels on helium.”  Otto about Scheherazade

Voices make or break a characterization, and in 80 Days, they mostly make them.  Oliver’s voice was particularly pleasant to listen to.  Some characterizations were over the top, perhaps, but fit the lighthearted feel of the game. 

There was one major character whose voice reminded me of Gilbert Gottfried, (whether that is good or bad depends on how you feel about Gilbert), and I thought that the voices of the characters Oliver met in San Francisco sounded a little too southern.  Let’s face it; San Francisco is not in the south.  But those are minor quibbles.  On the whole, the voice acting was pleasant and expressive -- imbuing each character with personality, and better enabling me to connect with that character. 

A minor annoyance for me was that the voice decibel level increased and decreased at random.  I always play with subtitles turned on, so I could understand the dialogue except for during the production numbers, which are not subtitled.

The ambient sounds in the game were excellent.  Engines thrummed, wind howled, monkeys hooted, birds sang.  Crowds murmured, doors slammed, and Kiouni the elephant’s feet thudded.

The background music appeared intermittently.  It was upbeat and increased the tension in the game, but became repetitive when scenes had to be replayed.  The music also reflected the humorous approach the producers took to this game.  For instance, the music from the Love Boat theme shows up while on the cruise ship, and a production number is done to the tune of YMCA, though with different lyrics. 

Interface: “If it’s not in the manual, I’m lost.”  Commodore to Oliver

80 Days loaded easily and without hitch.  After installation, you should download the patch.  (www.frogwares.com)   A much appreciated bonus – still scenes from the game piqued my interest during the loading process.  At game’s end while the credits were rolling, I was treated to cut scenes of various game characters taking direction in a “making of the game” feature.  It was a riot!  I appreciate games that go out as wonderfully as they come in. 

The game disk must be in the CD drive for the game to play.  The manual for the game is on the disk.  I much prefer a separate manual, especially for a game like this one, where it is essential to actually read it.  Yes, I know I could have printed it out -- but not having a hard copy of the manual makes me feel a bit cheated. 

Navigation through the game world is controlled by a combination of mouse – with which you can freely pan -- and the keyboard.  This took me awhile to get used to, and Oliver suffered a number of thumps until I acclimated to it.  (He heals instantly, by the way!)  Learning to control Oliver is important, and the better you can control him, the more fun you will have.  After practicing, I found that I could zoom around at high speeds, only bouncing off the occasional light pole or NPC. 

The “I” key opened/closed the inventory, and “O” and “P” cycled through it.  With the inventory open and the correct item in the center circle, I only needed to highlight the area of the game where I wished Oliver to use the item and then left-click.  Inventory combinations were done automatically.  I don’t think I ever had more than a dozen items in inventory at one time. 

The “W” “A” “S” and “D” keys move Oliver forward, sideways and backwards.  These same controls work on all modes of transportation, as do the arrow keys.  Holding “Shift” down makes Oliver run and gives a speed boost to the vehicles/animals, though even while using the “Shift” key, the elephant moves at the speed of molasses. 

To talk to someone, stand in front of them and push “Enter” or left-click.  You’ll find that Oliver’s interaction with the NPCs takes place via cut scenes, so there are no dialogue trees. 

Left-clicking on the green highlighted area of a puzzle activates it.  Sometimes I had problems getting the correct area of a puzzle to highlight.  I would walk Oliver toward, away from, slide left, slide right, etc., just to get the button, lever, or whatever to highlight so I could manipulate it.  I knew what I needed to do, but could not get the correct area of the puzzle to highlight. This did not happen often, but when it did, it was extremely aggravating!

80 Days saves automatically at certain preset points in the game.  These were usually at the end of a mission or upon solving a puzzle.  The game, unfortunately, has no provision for the player to save manually.  No manual save meant that I replayed portions of the game more often than I would have liked.  I don’t understand or like this trend of games not allowing the player to save at will.  Sometimes the game saved frequently enough to satisfy me, but unfortunately, not always.

 “Escape” brings up the Main Menu.  From there you can review or reconfigure the controls, turn options on and off, load, save, and exit the game.  It is also a useful way to pause the game.  From the Options Menu, you can set the sound, graphics, and display to your preferences, or within the limits of your PC.    

Missions: “I remember in my younger days when it was not my breath that made the ladies swoon.”  Batulcar to Oliver

80 Days gives Oliver missions/goals throughout the game, and each mission is broken into smaller missions.  Some of these make sense and others are a bit silly.  Sometimes, there was more running back and forth than I really wanted to do -- but on the whole, the missions were fun.  The “Tab” key brings these goals up to refresh your memory – this means that I did not have to keep paper notes.

There is also a color-coded mini map to help you complete these goals.  The mini map was a great help once I learned to read it properly.  It shows you the general direction Oliver needs to go to accomplish his objective.  It does not, however, show you the direct route to your goal—sometimes I had to go away from my goal before I could reach a place to turn back to it.  In the same way, I had to climb up sometimes before finding the spot where I could go down to the goal. 

I have one quibble with the mini map.  Once I learned to rely on it, I discovered that occasionally my game objectives did not appear on it.  I don’t know if this was a glitch, or an inconsistency in the game design. 

To complete the missions, Oliver will be required to sneak, jump, climb, walk, run, and solve puzzles.  Jumping is not a huge part of the game, and I think with practice, most folks will be able to do it successfully.  I found out that I am not very stealthy and I can’t jump worth a hoot.  The good news is that jumping only requires the use of the space bar, and nowhere did Oliver have to execute multiple leaps quickly, so I could take my time positioning him.  This is important, as I found the game to be picky as to where Oliver has to stand in order to make some jumps successfully.  While there is no pixel hunting in any of the puzzles, I sometimes felt as if I were pixel hunting for that exact spot that would let Oliver jump successfully. 

The parts of the game requiring stealth were more about watching the patterns of the bad guys and responding accordingly.  I found in the end, I enjoyed the stealth parts.  Once I had to laugh at myself -- I had unconsciously turned down the sound on my computer so the bad guys would not hear Oliver’s footsteps!  I felt like I had accomplished something upon successfully completing these areas, and it felt good.  

Puzzles: “No pressure, but you are responsible for absolutely everything.”  Baltimore to Oliver

Puzzles are the meat of adventure games, and these were mostly well done.  The challenge level was just right for me.  I had to think a bit, experiment a bit, and observe a bit to figure out how they worked, and I felt a nice sense of self-satisfaction when I solved them.  Happily, none of the puzzles made me want to beat my head against a wall in frustration.  I quickly learned that all the puzzles were solvable with the clues found in the immediate area.  Knowing this kept me working on a puzzle longer than I might have otherwise. 

80 Days provides a nice mix of inventory, mechanical, and logic challenges.  No one type of puzzle was overly represented.  There were a couple of mini-arcade puzzles.  I had fun with these, even though I don’t usually care for them.  I did not find them at all difficult once I understood how to make the mechanisms work. 

I am sorry to report that there is one timed puzzle.  It comes near the end and is like a bad dessert that follows a wonderful meal.  It was not terribly difficult, but it just seemed pointless.  Each time you fail it (if you do) you have to reload and wait through the cut scene.  Combined with the glitchiness of this game (sometimes Oliver would just stand there for several seconds!) this puzzle was exasperating. 

There is a puzzle that uses color, but is solvable based on other clues if you are color blind.  There is also one puzzle that says it uses sound, but I’m tone deaf and hard of hearing and had no problem with it.  There is an area that could be considered a maze, but it is short and easily navigated.  There are no sliders.

Bugs/Glitches“You must be some sort of trouble magnet.”  Commodore to Oliver

80 Days is not without its share of bugs and glitches.  I played the patched version, but still ran into some problems.  I had to shut down extra programs for the game to run smoothly.  I did not shut down my virus software, and that may have contributed to some of the glitches.

This game regularly succumbed to 10-30 second mini-freezes.  This could be funny if Oliver happened to be in mid-jump, but otherwise it was annoying.  The game would then merrily resume as if nothing had happened.   

There were some other oddities.  I experienced one instance where my character disappeared off the screen, and another in which the world disappeared, but my character stayed -- Oliver was truly lost in space.  I could not sleep at the hotel in Bombay.  (This does not matter in the Tourist mode, but would definitely be a problem in the other two modes.)   On occasion, the game became jerky, and sometimes the background flashed like a strobe light.  Twice the game was caught in a repetitive loop, and I had to quit and start again from a previous save.  I was also booted to the desktop twice.    

Nevertheless, in spite of the glitches, this game is a lot of fun to play.

Final Impression: “I change outfits more often than Cher.” Oliver

I thoroughly enjoyed going around the world in 80 Days with Oliver.  The story had enough twists to be interesting, and the dialogue was very amusing.  The puzzles kept me thinking, but didn’t make me desperate.  The game was extraordinarily immersive, with many entertaining and original characters.

Because 80 Days has three levels of play, it has something for everyone and a certain amount of replayability.  The graphics are sumptuous.  The interface may take some gamers a bit of time to learn and adjust to, but in the end, it will be worth the bother.  There were glitches, but the pluses of this game far outweigh the minuses. 

If you enjoy third person games with plenty of exploration, inventory, mechanical, and logic puzzles, lots of humor, and beautiful graphics, make time for a trip around this world.

Goodbye, Oliver.  Until next time! 


Short List: “Do you have a memory problem?” Princess Kugloff

Third person 3D adventure game with small bits of jumping

Combination of keyboard and mouse control

Automatic saves


Beautiful graphics

Camera pans freely

Good voice acting and ambient sounds

Mechanical, logical, and inventory puzzles

You can’t die

One “iffy” maze

One timed puzzle

No real sound/color puzzles

Patch required





Windows XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM


Sound Card: DirectX Version: 9.0b (4.09.0000.0902)

CD Drive: 52X32X52 speed

Video Card: 128 DDR NVIDIA Geforce FX5200 Ultra


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