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Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000

Atlantis - Trial by Fire

Disney Games Offer Summer Movie Tie In

by Jim Bray

With Disney's latest animated epic in release, kids can get that sinking feeling at home as well, via a pair of CD-ROMs from Disney Interactive.

Atlantis The Lost Empire - Trial By Fire is an adventure game that lets you enter the cartoon world and partake of various adventures spun off from the movie, while "The Lost Games" is a collection of kiddy games inspired by the film.

"Trial By Fire" is playable by a single person or in various online multi-player modes. I had some trouble getting it to work on my system - undoubtedly courtesy of my temperamental Windows 98 installation (it didn't work at all under the far more stable Windows 2000, unfortunately), so the action I got out of it happened with no audio accompaniment.

Still, it looks like a neat game for "kids of all ages."

You play "Trial by Fire" in first person mode, which means everything happens from your own point of view. The 3D graphics are pretty good and the interface is pretty easy to figure out, even if you aren't a kid.

The game includes ten different game environments, 12 single player levels and another ten levels for multi-player action.

Disney has thrown in some original animation and it's up to the company's standards.

The company claims the single player mode of "Trial By Fire" follows the basic storyline of the movie, though since I haven't seen the movie I can't comment on that. What happens is that you join an exploration team and travel to the Earth's core (unless you're incorrigible, I suppose) to find Atlantis. You use the Shepherd's Journal (an ancient book that contains secrets you can use to find the missing City) as your guide, and you have to fight off and/or fight through a variety of enemies and adventures along the way.

"The Lost Games" is much more kiddy-oriented than "Trial By Fire," and is in fact a set of five games that focus on different elements of the animated movie now in theaters.

Each game has various levels that get progressively more difficult, but on the whole it's really aimed at younger kids, so older kids and adults will get tired of them pretty quickly. But hey, that's okay - the little kids need some fun, too.

Each module is introduced by a character from the film, who then walks you through the interface and outlines the task at hand.

The first game, called "Submergency Urgency," lets you captain a little submarine through undersea grottos, avoiding falling rocks, electric eels and other horrid obstacles, until you find the entranceway to Atlantis.

"Unroadblock That!" puts the kid in control of a little convoy of vehicles and the ankle biter at the keyboard has to clear a path through various obstacles (such as fire or fissures in the ground) to get to the entrance on the other side of the screen. If you mess up you're thrown back to the beginning of the level and have to start again.

"Air Escapade" is a tad more challenging, though only a tad. Using your mouse, you have to guide an airplane around the screen, picking up king stones and taking them to storage, while avoiding other craft. Fortunately for those of us who like a little mayhem, you can shoot the other planes and drag them away to storage as well - though of course it's a pretty mild type of violence that wouldn't shock anyone.

Machine Arena is kind of like "Robot Wars" or the game "Roboforge." Here, the toddler assembles a fighting machine from a very limited inventory of components, then sends it off to do battle with other droids. It's pretty Mickey Mouse (well, duh! This is Disney after all!), but kids should enjoy it.

The final module is called "Atlantis Captured," and is really nothing more than a series of images from "Atlantis - The Lost Empire." Kids can save the images to their hard drives (though why you'd want to when you already have them on a CD-ROM is beyond me), print them out, or e-mail them to unsuspecting peers.

The games sell for $30 apiece and are supposed to be compatible with Windows 95/98 or (aaargh!) Windows Me. Hardware requirements include a Pentium II 266 or compatible, 64 Megabytes of RAM and 8 Megabytes of video RAM.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


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January 31, 2006