Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal


Developer:    Funatics

Publisher:    THQ Inc.

Released:   2002

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/2000/Me/XP, Pentium III 500 MHz,, 16MB RAM, 64MB hard drive space, 2nd generation video card (e.g. TNT2), DirectX 8.1, CD-ROM drive, sound card, mouse.



by nickie

I have always proclaimed myself an adventure game player (AGP). From the days when Myst and King's Quest were gleeful discoveries, adventure games have filled my heart. Even for those brief moments when I enjoyed a game of another genre, I said "Yes, that was fantastic, but I am really an AGP". I bring this up because of a long thread in the RPG forum that another AGP and I have swelled to indecency, where each of us has said "But I am really an AGP!"

Protests are over. This AGP has fallen head over heels for Zanzarah, and not only is it not an adventure game, it is a nasty three headed hydra hybrid, combining adventure, action and role playing. Seldom do I come across a game that makes me forget time, forget to eat, distain sleep. Zanzarah is such a game for me.

The game begins with the unhappy heroine discovering a magic rune that transports her to the land of Zanzarah, a 3D kaleidescope world of brilliantly colored fairies and wise swamp goblins who hint of a prophesy that a human will save their world from the evil dark realm. Already chaos is beginning, and the once friendly fairies have gone wild, and will attack if you should stray close to their home in the bushes, rocks, trees and waterfalls.

Beginning the game, you are given your choice of three fairies, and from that point on, you have a fairy faithfully at your shoulder, who is ready and willing to do battle for you. You are told of magical orbs that can capture wild fairies for your own use, and you quickly discover that you must capture some to defend yourself, and train them so that they can win fairy fights.

Especially intriguing are the differences in fairies, each having their own personality and voice, from the gruff bass of the rock fairy who beats his chest in challenge, to the high trill of the feminine nature fairy. You must find spells to better equip your little warriors, as they are absolutely relying on you for their survival. As you wander the land, you capture more and more fairies, and it is up to you to decide which is better suited for battle. You travel from garden to mountain to underground, and the fairies you encounter have attributes reflecting their particular location.

A really humorous element are the pixies that you may capture in order to get a reward. These bowlegged little creatures run by giggling at you as if to say "Hee Hee,you can't catch me!" When you pick them up with their little legs kicking, they make an ahhh sound, at their little game being over.

There is a strong adventure story line to the game, and you are assisted by comments from the characters you meet, and there is also a handy map feature which will show an exclamation mark over an area where you need to go in order for the story to progress.
The graphics are outstandingly beautiful, with exquisite detail.

The music score is excellent, with a particularly beautiful theme song sung by a woman who is not well known in the U.S.,who sounds much like Enya. The ambient sounds are likewise outstanding, from the wind whistling through the mountain pass to the brushing of bushes as you go through them.

I encountered no bugginess.

The downside: Yes, it is keyboard and mouse controlled, but it is simple to utilize. Slightly annoying when it was necessary to make a couple of leaps, and it was awkward to move the character correctly. Fortunately those leaps are few. There is one particularly annoying sequence where you have to ask a character for help, go to the leaping spots, and if you fail, you have to repeat the entire sequence as opposed to just leaping once again.
The save system- the game automatically saves where you ended the time before. There are no save slots to go back to. Even when I would use the save icon, the game would return me to the beginning of the sequence.

I played the game on XP, although it will play on Win98. It requires at least a Pentium II, 500 MHz or better, 64 MB, and a healthy 3D graphics card.

Zanzarah is a world of fantasy, of adventure and exploration. I wished I could stay there forever. I plan on going back, and I hope some of you might wish to join me there.

copyright 2002 GameBoomers

 Review Index