Treasure Island



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Radon Labs

Publisher:    The Adventure Company

Released:  December 2009 (NA)

PC Requirements:   Windows« 2000/XP, 1.4GHz Processor Pentium« 3 Processor ,  256MB RAM, 1.5 GB Disk Space,  64MB Video card, DirectX 9, 16-bit DirectX« Compatible sound






by Becky


In the universe of pirate yarns, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island is hugely influential. The antics of characters like Jack Sparrow and Guybrush Threepwood owe much to the classic legacy of Long John Silver and his chums. Versions and reinterpretations of Treasure Island are numerous. Before I even touched the shrink wrap on the latest Treasure Island game by German developers Radon Labs, I had watched two film re-creations and played two Treasure Island based PC games. With so many piratical goings-on out there, can this latest PC adventure distinguish itself?

Radon's Treasure Island is a third person perspective, point-and-click adventure with a serious tone. It retells events loosely based on those in the novel and introduces new characters ― including Antoinette, Squire Trelawney's daughter. Antoinette finagles her way onto the good ship Hispaniola due to the irresistible lure of long lost treasure, and she is involved in most of the game's new plot twists.

Well Worth Seeing

Treasure Island's most obvious strength is its graphical environments, which are wide-ranging and richly portrayed. Bristol, England is a commendable example of a village come to life, with unique individuals walking about cobblestone streets, surrounded by arduously detailed buildings of stone, brick and wood. Later in the game, water from huge waves sprays across the Hispaniola's deck and lightning flashes near the horizon. The tropical island sequence reveals light-mottled jungle paths by day; by night, trails are misty with fireflies and stark branches silhouetted against the sky.

Treasure Island employs a "tracking shot" feature to good effect. For example, in the island labyrinth the gamer's perspective is that of a jungle creature hidden in the trees, watching from various angles and following Hawkins as he explores. Foreground objects (leaves and vines) frame the scene and add to the sense of realism. Remarkably, the various camera angles are never disorienting or confusing.

The galley on the Hispaniola is beautifully animated -- kitchen utensils hang from the ceiling, rocking gently back and forth with the ship's motion. As Long John sits peeling potatoes, a lantern above him casts a shadow that sways in unison with wooden spoons and pots.

Hawkins and Crew

The translation of dialogs from the German is unusually competent (you can often, though not always, click through the dialogs). As in the novel, the story unfolds from the perspective of Jim Hawkins, discoverer of the notorious map. Characters interact frequently, but with no overly long conversations. Voiceovers for the main characters are good to excellent; those for minor characters are less believable (e.g. ― an exaggerated southern drawl in Bristol).

Hawkins looks and sounds a bit like the young Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride. He gives an impression of intelligence and courage, combined with earnestness. Long John has a rough voice, a congenial manner, and wears the trademark black pirate hat (though without skull and crossbones). Character portrayals of the ridiculously effete squire and the accomplished, brooding Dr. Livesey are also effective. Antoinette Trelawney gives a spunky performance, though she spends way too much time posed with her hand on her outthrust hip. This and her cheeky comments make her sassy and seductive.

The background music is orchestral, sometimes contemplative, sometimes folksy and occasionally heart pumping. The music suits the locations well, as do the ambient sounds -- creaking noises on the Hispaniola, animal and bird calls in the jungle, and seagulls squawking on the cliffs near the Admiral Benbow Inn.

When You're Hot You're Hot, When You're Not...

In the game's introduction, a pirate appears asking the following: "Do I want to turn over every stone, search every inch, just on the hunch that I will find something there? Or do I want to know exactly what is around and what is worth a look?" The questions suggest a smart cursor option, with the cursor highlighting hotspots when it is placed over interactive items. Not so. It turns out that the smart cursor is available whether you check the "hotspots" option or not. What the nice pirate is offering (without giving any specifics as to the procedure) is the ability to reveal all hotspots and exits. The game has no manual (not even on the disk) and I didn't discover the "reveal all" feature until after I had played the entire game and was replaying for the purposes of this review. So be advised: unless you find pixel hunting amusing (I don't), selecting the "hotspot" option and then employing the space bar will add to your enjoyment.

Desperate Measures

Treasure Island contains multiple inventory puzzles -- including item combinations, a few of which are a bit stretched (Hawkins often accused me of being "desperate" in my suggested combinations, but obviously desperation works). You'll also encounter riddles that require gathering information, some dialog based challenges, and a clever chemical challenge which has a particularly nice payoff. The single timed puzzle is reasonably easy if you pay close attention to your surroundings. (If you aren't quick enough, the game automatically starts back at the beginning of the timed sequence.)

The game contains two mazes, both of which are actually easier to solve by trial and error than by figuring out the clues ― the information associated with the mazes gives rise to multiple interpretations. My frustration with the last maze was lightened by an amusing Easter Egg, probably triggered by how poorly I was doing.

Share the Load

Treasure Island installed smoothly and ran glitch-free.

Movement in a 3D environment always seems to have "issues." Here, moving Hawkins by clicking on the footsteps icons works well enough -- it's sometimes awkward, but it's about as smooth as I've seen in a 3D game. Double-clicking causes Hawkins to run (most of the time). Surprisingly in a game this graphics-intensive, there were no long loading screens.

The "save and load" menu does contain an oddity, though. The saves (which appear to be unlimited) are positioned below the Autosave, and seem to be arranged randomly, so that the most recent save was never where I expected it to be. Fortunately, the saves have a date and time stamp, making it possible to track them down using the date.

Cover Your Ears for this Scene, Kids

What is the target audience for this game? Well, Radon's Treasure Island could be an excellent tool for introducing children to a classic work of literature. However, it may not be suitable for the very young or the impressionable, as it contains scenes of violence (particularly disturbing is a close-up of a corpse) and repeated dialogs between Hawkins and prostitutes on the streets of Bristol. The developers apparently wanted to add female characters to what is a famously male-centered plot, but three "courtesans" are an odd addition if your audience includes young girls.

So if we eliminate the "playing a classic along with your kids" audience, we're looking at the crowd that wants to play a somewhat more adult themed Treasure Island adventure. To this group, I would add adventurers who want a sneak preview of what the Radon developers are capable of, given the excitement over the upcoming The Book of Unwritten Tales, which is due to release in English within the next couple of months. Still, I doubt that this group, though eager, will compensate in numbers for the parents who would have bought this game to play with their children if it didn't deserve its "Teen" rating.

Quick List for Treasure Island

A serious version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic novel with some plot innovations. Wonderfully detailed graphics. Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. Significant (though not overwhelming) amounts of character interaction. You can usually click through the dialogs. A brief journal keeps track of the plot. About twelve hours of gameplay. Unfortunately, the game is not appropriate for children.

Good voiceovers. A somewhat wonky save system. No problems with installation and no glitches. Note: if you choose the "hotspots" option, this means that hitting the spacebar reveals all hotspots and exits. The smart cursor will highlight hotspots even if you don't select the "hotspots" option.

Inventory puzzles, dialog challenges, exploration, and information gathering. One timed challenge and two mazes. (The timed sequence automatically repeats if you don't succeed.) No dying. No sliders, no color or sound based puzzles. Clues (especially for the mazes) are occasionally obscure.

Aimed at gamers who enjoy a serious "take" on literary classics, and those who appreciate sumptuous 3D graphics.

Final Grade: B

What I played it on: 

Dell Studio XPS 8000

Windows 7 Home Premium

Intel Core i5-750 processor


1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220

Soundblaster X-Fi


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