Where does it come from?
Hmmm, a game from the
Republic? Sounds interesting! I've enjoyed games from unusual
European countries before; The Longest Journey, Faust (Seven Games
of the Soul), and Rally Trophy (okay, that's about classic rally
driving, but still a game) spring particularly to my mind.
So, I've done a little research. Not enough to spoil the game, but
something to be going on with before I get my sticky little hands on
the disk... now hang on, is this based on a story, called "Gooka and
Yorimar," by Richard D. Evans, or by Vlado Risa? Confusion reigns.
Okay, lets get this straight. It's "Gooka: The Mystery of Janatris",
but that makes it Gooka 2; there was a Gooka game published in 1997
too. It's based on a novel by Vlado Risa, or his Western European
pseudonym, Richard D. Evans. Aha! Now I've got it!
Next problem, is this a point-n-click adventure game (as indicated
on the back of the box), or an adventure/RPG hybrid, as I've
discovered having completed it.
Confused? Yes, I was. Thankfully, once I started playing the game,
things got better.
What is it?
As I've already said, the back of the box gave me the impression
that this is a point-n-click adventure. However, once you get into
the manual, it becomes clear that there's a degree of character
stats development, and combat. Now, we're not talking about a
reactions-based, laser-blasting, gore-fest, but combat it is. I'll
come back to this later.
So, after my moment of confusion, I set off for my adventure in the
land of Janatris.
This game actually is, for the most part, a point-n-click adventure,
but from the third person perspective. Just like Grim Fandango, The
Longest Journey, Syberia, and many more excellent games, we watch
our hero, Gooka, progress through an environment that could have
come straight out of Medieval Europe. Except... there are bits of
future tech dropped in seemingly at random!
The graphical content, both environment and characters, is nicely
modeled, and well rendered (on my 2-year-old graphics card), but the
character animation is a bit sluggish, and Gooka is not good at
opening doors - he reaches out to them, but they then open without
his holding the handle - and in many cases, without his hand being
even close to the door.
For the most part, the world is quite natural in appearance, the
buildings medieval, and the creatures quite believable. All the
creatures, except the rats and the humans, are fictional. The
special effects, particularly as used in the combat sequences, are
really rather nicely done, with subtle volumetric effects and
swirling colours, even on my old graphics card. The overall look of
the graphics approaches that of Schizm II, or Broken Sword 3 - quite
coherent environments with attention to detail and vegetation that
works close up.
Is there a plot?
You want plot in an adventure game? Well, you got one here; fencing,
fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true
love, miracles... well, almost all of that. And I'll leave it to the
reader to discern which one isn't in the game. ;)
The story works something like this: in Gooka's absence, someone has
attacked and burned down his house, injured his wife and kidnapped
his son (Yorimar, of the original book's title). Upon Gooka's return
home, he has to fix everything. Just as you'd expect from an
upstanding citizen, really.
So, it's off to the monastery to find out what's required to save
Lidra, and what's happened to Yorimar. Suffice it to say that both
these tasks require Gooka to travel to various parts of Janatris
(the planet) and cooperate with and fight against a variety of
people and creatures to reach his goals.
How do you play?
The game play here is generally quite linear, with periods of
wandering, trying to achieve larger plot milestones. However, the
milestones occur in a particular order, and you can't go backwards
through the story, nor skip milestones.
The environments encompass a variety of settings: buildings, towns,
beach, dockside, countryside, jungle, caves, a ship, and low- and
You can use your mouse to achieve everything in the game, so perhaps
this is the reason for the 'point-n-click adventure' description.
There are keyboard alternatives to most actions, so you can mix and
match mouse and keys to suit. Also, the Escape key is used to skip
dialog lines, which is handy as much of the dialog is laboriously
voice acted. The subtitles option is rather handy to get the story
without waiting an eternity for the dialog to finish. The Escape key
also enables you to skip some animations (like rolling dice, or
opening doors), but beware! therein lies a game crashing bug. This
is rather more serious, as the use of the 'Escape' key is
particularly useful to skip slow animations, but if you use if at
particular animation transitions (I had trouble pinning down exactly
which ones), the game will crash.
The combat sequences in the game are turn-based; you, your allies,
and your opponents each get to take turns choosing an action to
perform. The order of action is determined by the relative speeds of
the people concerned. The fastest go first, the slowest last. I
found that it was reasonably easy to learn how to do combat like
this, but even the earliest fights are quite hard. Thank goodness
for the AutoSave that happens before every fight. Although the game
manual does describe the combat, it is lacking in the screen shots
that would clarify that description.
Many RPGs involve the use of magical powers as well as swords and so
on. In Gooka, we have the unusual feature of telepathic powers.
However, when it boils down to it, they're basically magic spells by
another name. Most of the time, Gooka's telepathic powers are used
to boost his performance in combat - some powers are attacks, some
are defenses, some are temporary 'power-ups'. Many of Gooka's
opponents and allies (whose actions during combat are also
controlled by you, the player) have Mind skills, which the opponent
character AI makes use of quite effectively.
The most unusual aspect of Gooka's combat skills, was the ability to
shift power from his physical (Body) to mental (Mind) score, or vice
versa. But the downside for me was that it seemed that the only way
to win the majority of combats was to use a particular strategy
which emphasized just one of those way beyond the other.
The puzzles do have a nice variety: some involve inventory items,
one is a series of three timed sequences, one is audio, one is a
small maze, some are pattern based and some numeric. For me, it was
the dice game (no-one tells you the rules and I've never played that
game before!) and the combat-based puzzles - especially the
unavoidable milestone combats - that caused me the most difficulty.
Until, that is, I discovered the combat strategy that worked, almost
without fail, for the remainder of the game.
After playing this game for a few days, I began to get to like
it, in a general sense.
The weaknesses are the frustrating combat issues and the dice game,
the voice acting (dull & lifeless), and the lack of dramatic sound
effects - a shipwreck should cause some distress in the characters
involved, and make some noise to say the least! Furthermore,
there were a number of times when the game would hang with a
confirmation dialog box back on the desktop, complaining of 'vertex
errors'. The game didn't crash with these bugs, and clicking "OK"
brought the game back. The 'Escape' key bug I mention during the
dice game is rather more serious, and would be a serious candidate
However, I would say the real strengths of this game are the plot
and variety of puzzles and environments. After two weeks playing, I
can say that, because of these elements, I would go back and play
Gooka again, which is more than I can say for many pure adventure
Overall grade: B.
What do you need to play it?
o Pentium® III 733 MHz or Athlon™ 733 MHz
o 32MB nVidia GeForce2 / ATI Radeon video card
o 256 MB RAM
o 400 MB Hard Drive
o CD-ROM or CD/DVD-ROM drive 8x
o DirectX certified sound card
o Windows 98/2000/XP with DirectX 8.1
o Pentium® IV 1,5 GHz or Athlon™1,5 GHz
o 64 MB nVidia GeForce 4 / ATI Radeon 9600 PRO video card
o 512 MB RAM
o Sound card with 3D sound support
o Windows XP
(I used Win XP, AMD Athlon XP 2400+, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9000 Pro
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