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Captain Morgane and The Golden Turtle Preview

Adventure games are somewhat of a dying breed these days, unfortunately. The cerebral nature of the gameplay seems to be getting shunned in favour of high octane shooters or adventure games where the clues and hints come thick and fast. I got to take an early look at Wizarbox's newest offering in the genre, Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle.

Taking control of Morgane Castillo, an 8 year old would-be pirate, I was tasked with exciting adventures, seeking treasure, killing adversaries and looting ships after I'd destroyed its crew! Actually, not really. I had to sweep dust off the floor and clean the windows. True story. It's not always glamorous being a buccaneer you know.

The first thing I noticed when I booted up the game is the graphics. They're gorgeous, with 3D models on intricate 2D backgrounds with small pieces of animation here and there, such as a curtain blowing in the wind. It's very reminiscent of Pendelo Studios' Runaway series, and that's certainly no bad thing, as that's one of the best adventure game lookers available at the moment.

As far as a point and click adventure goes, this is pretty standard stuff. You click on something and get two icons, one for examining and one for picking up/interacting. There's a fair amount of stuff that's useful as well as the obligatory red herrings that do nothing at all, so all in all, competent, not much more.

One of the things that brings adventure games down is that they rely on dialogue to remain interesting to push you forward, and the problem is always that if you click on something you can't use you start hearing the same phrases over and over, leaving you wanting to punch the next person you meet who says “I can't do that.” Captain Morgane has the same problem, but there are sometimes different expressions in certain areas, but these believe it or not, despite being different are even more annoying. For example I was to fill a basin with water. Simple, right? I picked up the jug, and went outside to the water pump, “I can't do that, the handle's missing!” she said as I tried to fill the jug. Very well, I found the handle near by on the ground, so I combine the handle with the pump, “The handle is broken and needs fixed” … fine! Apparently I needed some kind of rivet to fix it. There was a convenient puddle of mud right beside the pump, obviously hiding the required fix. I click on the puddle - “I can't play in the mud until I've done my chores.” Infuriating. So, obviously since you can't play with the mud, the answer is to use a magnet to lift the rivet without touching the mud. Of course.

The above section was merely a tutorial, but there was literally nothing interesting about it. No insight into characters, no events to make you want to push forward, nothing. The game is fine as a point and click but there's nothing pushing you to want to go on, which is always an important element. However, the game is clearly designed for children so some slack can be given for a basic but tedious tutorial (I have since been rather shocked to learn it's actually got a 12+ PEGI rating). I say it's for children as it becomes apparent when you get to your first sword fight (with wooden swords, of course). The game shifts from the beautiful style it's carrying, to a 2D arena type.. thing, where you move left and right on a locked screen and hit one key for fast attack or one for slow, and that's it, you just spam buttons until the opponent falls over. No challenge, no excitement, nothing. It would have been a chance to show some fancy animations but alas, they went with a Punch and Judy approach.

The voice acting is worth noting too. It's not good. It's also rather quiet compared to the music, even when turned to maximum volume. There's also the slight problem of dialogue going over other dialogue. I'm sure you've all been there when you want to skip dialogue for whatever reason, and you do just that. Here, it's possible, but if you skip a line, it keeps playing while the next line is spoken. Skip an entire conversation and you'll have five or six lines of dialogue all playing over each other in a jumbled mess.

On the subject of sound, however, the music is rather good. Nice and relaxing even if it is on a loop. It's also one of the better parts of the game along with the graphics.

For something which should be relatively simple to pull off, there's an awful lot of problems present in this game, even for an early build, and unfortunately they're not technical problems, they're design problems. The game has been delayed and is now set for release on the Wii, PlayStation 3, DS and PC in 2012 instead of the end of this year, so hopefully the time will be taken to polish it up and change some of the more irritating features, as the game has the potential to be charmingly entertaining.
Dead Alive | 6th November, 2011

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