AGON 3: Madagascar


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:   Private Moon

Released:   3rd episode - 2004

PC Requirements:   Windows® 98/Me/2000/XP
400 Mhz Pentium® II or equivalent processor, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB DirectX® 8.0 Compatible 3D Video Card (TNT2 or equal), DirectX® Compatible Sound Card, Highspeed Internet Access


Additional Screenshots



by Jenny100

AGON 3:  Madagascar

The AGON series continues as its protagonist, Professor Samuel Hunt, visits Madagascar in his pursuit of the mysterious lost board games of the AGON.

The story began in October of the year 1903, when Professor Hunt, a historian at the British Museum, received an envelope containing an ancient manuscript page and an anonymous message signed only with the initials "W.K." Professor Hunt was convinced that this mysterious message was somehow connected with several uncatalogued shipments the museum had received over the past few months. By the end of the first AGON game, he had proven to his satisfaction that this was indeed the case. With only a name and the geographic coordinates of his first destination, he set off for Lapland. AGON 2 chronicled his adventures in Lapland and ended with his receiving a stone fragment that gave him a clue to the location of the next lost board game. Between the end of AGON 2 and the beginning of AGON 3, Professor Hunt left snowy Lapland and set sail for Madagascar.

A summary of the story so far is displayed when you start a new game in AGON 3. This is followed by a narration of a letter from Professor Hunt to his wife, explaining what he intends to do and what he hopes to find as he explores this particular part of Madagascar. After a cut scene in which Professor Hunt rows ashore from the tall ship which brought him to the island, the player is given control of the game.

At the end of AGON 3, the player will be introduced to Fanorona, a traditional board game from Madagascar. After winning at Fanorona, Professor Hunt is given a clue to the whereabouts of his next destination. Although individual AGON episodes are part of a projected fourteen-part series, each of them is pretty much self-contained storywise and it is possible to play the episodes in any order without significantly affecting gameplay.


As with the previous AGON episodes, there were both inventory puzzles and mechanical puzzles. Sometimes Professor Hunt would have to find a particular inventory item in order for an event or hotspot to be triggered somewhere else. Sometimes he would have to talk to another character in order to trigger a hotspot. Sometimes he'd have to notice something in the environment and make a comment on it before it would be triggered. Professor Hunt's comments may contain clues or may merely be observations. As with the previous games, there are some puzzles where you have to type in answers by clicking on the keys of an onscreen keyboard with your mouse. There are no action or timed sequences.

Annoying Puzzles

There was one sound puzzle which will no doubt cause problems for gamers with hearing difficulties. It involves a sort of maze where you have to follow the direction of a sound to know in which direction to move. And it has to be repeated more than once. Even though there's nothing particularly wrong with my hearing, I had to stick my ear right up next to my left and right speakers to be sure which speaker (or speakers) the sound was coming from. The puzzle would have been improved if there were visual cues as well as aural ones - or at least an option for them - for the sake of gamers with hearing difficulties. One other problem with this puzzle is that it sort of changes the rules on you. Most of the time you need to follow the sound, and the hints you receive all point to this fact. But to get to one location which is useful late in the game, you have to ignore the sound and strike out on your own.

Graphics and Sound

Graphics continue to improve with AGON 3. The lush tropical environment in this episode is very pretty. It only lacks enormous colorful flowers and towering waterfalls to make it resemble my idea of what a primitive tropical paradise would look like. But perhaps those things aren't found in Madagascar. There were quite a variety of plant types to see. The depiction of the individual jungle plants was sometimes quite detailed. Thankfully Professor Hunt did not have to deal with mosquitoes.

There are noticeable improvements in the quality of background animations. The animations of ocean waves on the beach and delicate fabrics drifting in the breeze were particularly noteworthy. The transitions that play when moving from one node to the next seem smoother than in the previous AGON games. Character animation also seems improved, though animation of characters' hands and details of matching mouth shape to speech could still use a little work. Voice acting was good, though I'm not qualified to say whether the accents of the Madagascar natives were correct. Music was suited to the environment and sometimes quite interesting. It didn't play continuously and often you were alone with jungle sounds or other background sounds.


AGON 3 uses the same interface as the previous AGON episodes. The game is entirely mouse-controlled, point-and-click style. As you sweep the screen with the cursor, it will change to indicate when you are able to move forward or interact with objects in the game environment. Movement is confined to nodes, but you can pan the screen in any direction by holding down the mouse button and "grabbing" it as you move your mouse.  

During the game there are three keys that are always visible in the upper right of the screen. They look like the keys of an old-fashioned typewriter and are labelled M for main menu, F for files, and I for inventory. If you click F, you'll get an "about the interface" link with a description of the cursors and the keys. It's a very intuitive, well-designed interface. A readme is included in the game install, but you can probably figure out the interface without consulting the readme.

While playing the board game, you'll have a different set of typewriter keys taking the place of the M, F, and I keys. Click E to exit the game, R to see the rules, and M to access the main menu. From the Main Menu you can Save, Restore, or adjust Game Options. There are eight save slots which include a date and time and a small screenshot to remind you of where you saved.


AGON 3 allows you to adjust sound volume separately for background sounds, voices, and music. Subtitles are optional and enabled by default. There is also an option for antialiasing with choices of 2x, 4x, and none. Antialiasing is disabled by default. There are color depth options of 16-bit and 32-bit, 32-bit being the default. Graphics are fixed at 800x600 and this cannot be changed. There are controls for fast, slow, or normal panning speed, though you can also control panning speed yourself during the game by where you "grab" the screen with your cursor. There are also Easy and Normal difficulty settings, which apply only to the board game. 

Acquisition and Installation

AGON 3 is not currently available on CD and is available only through purchase and download from the AGON website at   It can be downloaded either as a single file of around 325 MB in size or as several smaller downloads which will be joined together once downloading is complete. The gamer receives a key code for the game by email. The username and key code are entered the first time the player starts up the game. It is not necessary to be online to install or play the game once the game has been downloaded and the key code received.

Required Specs

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

800 MHz Pentium III or equivalent processor

128 MB RAM

32 MB DirectX 8.0 compatible 3D video card (Geforce 2 or equal)

DirectX compatible sound card

DirectX 8.0 (or better)

What I played it on

Windows 98SE

PIII 750 MHz

512 MB RAM

64 MB Geforce 2 TI video card

Hercules Fortissimo II sound card

DirectX 8.1b


Windows 2000 SP2

1533 MHz Athlon 1800+ processor

512  MB RAM

32 MB Matrox G550 video card

SBLive 4.1 Value sound card

DirectX 8.1b

The biggest problem I had playing it on the slightly below spec 750 MHz computer was that during the cut scenes the video (not the audio) would hiccup periodically. I had no crashes on either computer. Unlike the Tablut board game in the previous episode, neither computer had a large hesitation between moves in the Fanorona game using either Easy or Normal difficulty settings.


AGON 3 is the longest episode of AGON to date and the series continues to offer improvements in animation and overall graphic quality. The difficulty level of the adventure game part of AGON 3 is greater than for the two previous episodes.

You have a cute little animal helper to assist you with one of the puzzles.

The "story so far" introduction at the beginning of AGON 3 does not disappear until you click on it, which is an improvement over AGON 2, where it would disappear automatically before I'd read even half of it.

The Netboard version of Fanorona can be played online with other gamers instead of with the computer. This is a free download for purchasers of AGON 3. It is also sold separately by those who are interested in playing Fanorona online, but don't wish to buy AGON 3. AGON 3 is $9.80 and Netboard by itself is $4.90.

Private Moon is currently planning to make a Mac version of Agon and is taking a poll of which version of Mac OS people are using. So if you have a Mac (or know someone who has one) and are interested in seeing the AGON series on a Mac, be sure to drop by the AGON website at and state your preference.

Personally I've been enjoying the AGON series and look forward to the next episode. It's on to Toledo, Spain next time, with castles and cool stuff like that. I wonder if Professor Hunt's wife will come along this time, or whether he'll make her stay home to feed the cat. ;)

October 7, 2004

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