Archipelagos (Second Review)

Title           Archipelagos (Second Review)
Publisher       Astral Software / Logotron (1989)
Game Type       3D Combat Sim
Players         1
HD Installable  No
Compatability   ECS (AGA's ECS-chipset emulation works, disable caches)
Submission      Dennis Smith Profiled Reviewer

Archipelagos is one of those really innovative games of which we saw so
many in the late 80's and early 90's and as such is extremely difficult to
classify.  The only other game that it resembles, and almost certainly the
source of inspiration for the authors, is Sentinel.

You are a disembodied force in a world of archipelagos - little islands.
Floating about four feet above the ground, you travel a chequered 3D world
of sandy islands, stones and trees. Like Sentinel, you travel around by
clicking from square to square, though unlike Sentinel you have no
physical body to worry about, and the world is completely flat. You can't travel
very far, but over land, that's no problem, as you can make repeated hops.
Over sea, it's not so easy, but if you have enough energy, you can raise
land from the water and step to that.

To win each archipelago you must deactivate the Obelisk which stands
somewhere in the island chain.  To do this you must first destroy all the
standing stones in the archipelago. Simply ensure that a land bridge
connects the stone to the Obelisk - creating one if necessary - then just
click on it.  Do this to all the standing stones, then you've got ninety
seconds to return to the Obelisk and click on it.

Sounds easy?  Well, your clicking range is a little limited - it doesn't
stretch to the horizon, just a dozen squares in front of you, and you'll
need energy to build any significant land bridges - though this is
available in the form of spore pods that are littered around the place.
And on the bigger islands you can get quite lost - make a note of the
Obelisk's position before you destroy the last standing stone!  But the
real hazard in the game comes in the form of the 'arboreal trees', which
pollute the land around them with the 'blood of the ancients'.  Should the
square over which you hover become polluted, then it's game over. The
trees go through a cycle of rising and falling; each time they reach the
base of this cycle, they move - towards you - and the further away they
are, the further they move, polluting as they come.  Avoiding the slow but
unstoppable progress of the trees is where Archipelagos gets most of its
Sentinel-like atmosphere.  Not quite as spooky, but quite capable of giving
you a nasty scare now and again.  If you need to, you can use some energy
to clear a square of pollution but you can't stop the trees polluting it
again, next turn.

On later levels, there are more menaces - wandering lost souls which will
kill you if they contact you, the Necromancer that eats away at the edges
of islands (if the land square you're on is affected by the Necromancer,
that's it for you) and then there are Blood Eggs that hatch with a clap
of thunder, and either spread blood all over the land they stand on or
consume the island in the manner of the Necromancer.  But the trees will
always be the scary ones, heading straight for you, slowly, inexorably.

Every fifth island in the first hundred is special - the island is shaped
like something recognisable - from the overhead map view, anyway - such as
Great Britain, Europe, the Logotron turtle logo.  Playing for these will
probably add to the longevity of the game, but for all its good points, you
can't deny that it does get very repetitive after a while.  The 'famous'
archipelagos might keep you playing to level 100, but the monotony of it
all will probably drive you to some other pursuit long before you get as
far as island 9999.  Definitely worth a look, though - it'll keep you
interested for a while at least - and it's quite different from
practically any other game you'll play.

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