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.
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.
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
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 http://www.agongame.com
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.
800 MHz Pentium III or equivalent
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
PIII 750 MHz
512 MB RAM
64 MB Geforce 2 TI video card
Hercules Fortissimo II sound card
Windows 2000 SP2
1533 MHz Athlon 1800+ processor
512 MB RAM
32 MB Matrox G550 video card
SBLive 4.1 Value sound card
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
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
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 http://www.agongame.com 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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