Title Tower Of Babel (Second Review) Category Puzzle Players 1 Compatibility 68000/OCS only (68020+ compatibility with WHDLoad patch) Submission Joona Palaste (firstname.lastname@example.org) Profiled Reviewer Review Tower Of Babel is certainly an unusual game. Its exact category isn't apparent at first glance - the manual can give you the impression of an action game, and the 3D vector graphics make you think of some sort of simulation. When you begin to actually play it, however, it becomes clear that this is a puzzle game. The plot doesn't usually matter in puzzle games, and the plots of most puzzle games (as well as other game types) aren't interesting. Tower Of Babel has an interesting, unusual plot. Most people are aware of the legend of the tower of Babel, built by Shinarians many thousands of years ago. The Bible tells how the tower was constructed. Where the Bible and our story set on their separate paths is what happened after the construction. In the original story, it was the greed of man and the wrath of God that caused the tower's downfall. Our version is much more interesting: the tower was so impressive it caught the attention of a spaceship piloted by a race of mechanical Zantorians, who mistook it for a galactic beacon. The Zantorians, spider-like in form, landed in Shinar, and began co-operation with the humans. Some of the humans, however, revolted against the benevolent Zantorians, hid their energy packs and left them to their own fate. You, the player, take the role of the Zantorian crew. Your task is to solve the puzzles left to you by the Shinarians to be able to return home. If this sounds interesting, the actual game is even more interesting. The name "Tower Of Babel" is actually a bit misleading, because the game doesn't take place in a single, large tower, but instead many smaller ones. A "tower" in this sense is a 3D construction of 8*8*4 rectangular blocks, which can house all sorts of contraptions, including two kinds of ray emitters, prisms, pushable blocks, the Zantorians' energy packs (called Klondikes) and autonomous robots. Every tower has its individual name (making them akin to levels in action games), and its mission, which can be to destroy a given amount of objects, collect a given amount of Klondikes, or both. The game is viewed in real 3D vector graphics, which work well and fast, but look a bit plain compared to modern texture mapping. The really interesting bit is that you don't always control a single character. There are three different robots available to the player: the Zapper, the Pusher and the Grabber. You might be assigned any single robot, any collection of two robots, or all three. It all depends on the tower you're currently playing. All three robots have the same basic functionality, but also have key differences. The Zapper can destroy other objects, the Pusher can push objects further away, and the Grabber can collect Klondikes and activate devices. In order to solve a tower, you must use your robots in a co-operative effort. The towers in the game are grouped into groups of nine towers each. Initially, you may only choose any of the three first towers. When you complete a tower, those towers adjacent to it become available to play. When you have completed seven towers of a group, you may move onto the next group. You can even come back later to the previous group to improve your performance. This lessens the game's sequential structure, but doesn't altogether remove it. Not that it should, anyway - it's good to have easy towers in the beginning, and watch them get harder as you progress in the game. While the game supplies you with 13 groups - that's 117 towers, which is a lot - there is also the much welcome option to design your own towers. You get all the same freedom in design as the original designers got (which should be self-evident, but I can think of at least one C=64 game which didn't work this way), but when you play your own towers, you don't get any real score, just congratulations if you complete them. This, although detracting a bit from the challenge, makes it impossible to cheat your way to the high scores list. Naturally, you can save your own towers to disk to play them again later. The overall look of Tower Of Babel seems to speak of functionality over attraction. As mentioned above, the graphics are simple by today's standards, but do their job well enough. The sound is even more basic - the only music consists of an introductory tune and a simple melody when you complete a tower, and then there are a couple of sound effects. This doesn't make the game any worse - background music belongs in action games, not puzzle games. What might be confusing at first is that the game uses an user interface entirely of its own. It's a bit like an early window operating system, but with much less user freedom. A particular oddity is the way of cancelling requestors by clicking outside them, instead of a cancel button. Once you learn this, however, it becomes easy to remember. There aren't any real faults in Tower Of Babel. Its main downside is that it comes on a non-standard disk, and natively loaded works only on 68000-based Amigas, which are a rarity these days. There is a WHDLoad patch available in Aminet which fixes this, making the game accessible to modern users. As well as that, although you get good control over the game, the game isn't as complex as it could have been. What I would have preferred is bigger towers, more different objects, and a more realistic environment. There isn't even any real functional gravity effect in the game, although it looks realistic enough to need one. These, however, are minor faults and don't stop the game from appealing to fans of the puzzle game category. In my opinion, Tower Of Babel is one of the most innovative, playable and potentially exciting games produced in such an early age as 1989. If you like puzzle games with clearly defined rules and good challenge, but don't want any extra gloss, you can't really go wrong with this game. It could be considered one of the classic games on the Amiga. I'm very pleased with it.