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
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.”
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
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
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
Sound: “…like a choir of angels on helium.” Otto about
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
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
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
Final Impression: “I change outfits more often than Cher.”
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
Camera pans freely
Good voice acting and ambient
Mechanical, logical, and
You can’t die
One “iffy” maze
One timed puzzle
No real sound/color puzzles
MY COMPUTER SPECS:
Windows XP Professional SP1
3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4
1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM
Sound Card: DirectX Version:
CD Drive: 52X32X52 speed
Video Card: 128 DDR NVIDIA
Geforce FX5200 Ultra