Destination: Treasure Island


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Kheops Studios

Publisher:   Nobilis

Released:  March 2007 (English version)

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium III 800 MHz (1 GHz or better recommended), 64 MB system RAM (128 MB recommended), 1.2 GB free disk space, 16x CDROM Drive (24x CDROM or better recommended), 64 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible 3D video card (or higher), DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card






by nickie


 “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest--
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! (Sea shanty from Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson)

The mystique of swashbuckling pirates who sail to exotic locales and smoke-blackened treasure maps that promise untold riches captured the public imagination in an 1883 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. That novel was Treasure Island. It’s about Jim Hawkins, a young boy who is thrust into the pirate life through the vagaries of fate -- and survives through the compassion of Long John Silver, a one legged pirate with a parrot often perched on his shoulder. I won’t take the time to delve into the story’s moral ambiguities and coming of age for Hawkins. The pertinent issue is that at the end of Treasure Island three pirates were left marooned on an island, Silver has sailed off into the horizon with some of the treasure, and Hawkins has been left to grow into a man in ordinary fashion.

The game:

“We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colors of the crossbones and the skull;
We’d a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish water in the happy days of yore” (From ‘A Ballad of John Silver’ by John Masefield)

The game Destination: Treasure Island begins four years after the novel has ended. Hawkins is now the captain of the schooner Hispaniola, and he is locked in his cabin by bloodthirsty pirates. It is clear they are intending to settle their score with him for marooning them on that desolate island. Suddenly, Long John Silver’s parrot appears in the window with a message from the old pirate -- a treasure map, no less.  That, along with his other rather pressing circumstances, compel Hawkins to escape his ship. With his lifeboat wrecked upon the shore of the exotically beautiful Emerald Isle, Hawkins sets off to follow the enigmatic clues on his quest for the buried treasure.

It was with some trepidation that I ordered this game, for there was next to no press ballyhoo, and it suddenly appeared for purchase one day. I wondered if the publishers were trying to sell the game quickly, before the reviews lambasted it. Thankfully, my fears were put to rest in short order. While neither innovative nor upper echelon, the game is fun to play.

From a first person perspective as Hawkins, you interpret the clues of the enigma and wander about via 360 degree panning, gathering inventory items for use to solve puzzles and to make your way across the island. If you are familiar with Kheops’ previous game Return to Mysterious Island, the concept of the inventory as vital to game play is much the same. Inventory items can and often must be taken apart and the pieces reassembled to make other items to help you in your progress.


“Set a flame a-dancing in the dead man’s eyes” (Destination: Treasure Island)

Puzzles are straightforward and basic. They are almost all inventory based with some minor logic required on a few occasions. Significantly, there is no pixel hunting and items are in plain sight. Logic can generally be bypassed by trial and error. There are times when you must learn to make a specific type of knot utilizing a pop-up screen. This is interesting, but again it can be completed easily by trial and error. There are no sliders, no mazes, no sound puzzles and only one puzzle where the elements are color-significant. In a departure from the abovementioned Mysterious Island, there are no action or timed sequences, you cannot die, nor are there any “arcade” type sequences. There is no accumulated scoring procedure as in Mysterious Island either. In fact, you will probably find this game to be one of the easiest games you have played in the recent past or maybe ever. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, is it?

There is a gentle caress to having a game that you can recommend to a novice player with an easy learning curve and additional help throughout the game. Should you become confused about what you are trying to accomplish at some point, you can click on the objective button for a reminder. Clicking on inventory items is descriptive and sometimes indicates what should be done to combine them with some other item. Even the raspy voiced parrot will help with some clues when asked!

In addition, there is a map that allows you to quick-move to locations you have discovered. Although sometimes a bit too linear, even with its simplicity Destination: Treasure Island is still a good play for seasoned adventure game players, for it has a good story plot and it is fun to unravel the clues. Due to the ease of play the game is rather short, but at least there is nothing artificially forced into the game play to make it appear longer.  

Visuals and Sound:

Come men, can’t any of you sing? Sing now, and raise the dead.” (Herman Melville)

This is where it becomes obvious that Kheops is working on a limited budget. The art runs the gamut from a lovely island full of precisely detailed flora and fauna, elaborate stone work, blue skies and frothy white clouds -- to awkward-appearing water effects and strange facial art for the characters. The use of shading is nice. On the other hand, since Hawkins has wrecked his lifeboat on this isle, there should be a little wind. Yet the plants and trees are as still as a postcard.

The animations are limited. This becomes glaringly obvious when you would expect a scene with action, and are instead given a montage of comic styled pictures to show what has occurred. This constantly reminded me that it was a game, when I would have much preferred living in the story. These montages, the beginning and ending animations, and the music score are available in the gallery section of the menu once they have been accessed in the game.

There is not much dialog in the game, but when it occurs it does so via a pop-up screen with a picture of the character speaking. The voices are passable.

It is also jolting when you actually do see an animation after usually being subjected to the montages. In one scene, two characters respond to assist you with a puzzle -- seeing them move was like viewing a five-year-old wearing mascara.

The musical score is a rousing orchestral group of tunes, changing as various locations are visited. The main theme is catchy. The additional lyrics to the Deadman’s Chest song are enjoyable. (Just stop that parrot from singing again.)

One can only wonder what these talented developers could do with more financial backing, for their games are full of fun, and it is clear they make them with integrity and a love for the adventure genre and simply fall short when special effects would enhance the product.

Odds and Ends:

“Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill” (Robert Louis Stevenson, his self-written epitaph))

The game has two disks, and it is necessary for the second disk to be in the computer drive to play.

The game installed easily, and I encountered no glitches or bugs.

It is alt/tab friendly.

You can save as much as you like by date; you cannot name your saves. The game will save the progress of five players at the same time.

Historical note: the game purports to use the Mayan 260 day (Tzolkin) calendar in a puzzle, but the glyphs are completely inaccurate. It is pictured on a wheel, which the Mayans did not have. Emeralds were also not of the Maya; rather they had jade and obsidian. But no matter, it is a game and the developers can take poetic license.

This is a low pressure game where you can just admire that (almost) deserted island, and continue following that treasure map with glee as you wish.

Grade: B

March 2007

design copyright © 2007 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index