Tales From Heaven

Title           Tales From Heaven
Game Type       3D Action
Company         Darkage Software/Epic Marketing, 2000
Players         1
Compatibility   AGA, 68030 or >, 8megs RAM; RTG version also on CD
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Brian C. Horner (nairbrian@hotmail.com)

Right away, I'll say that I enjoy this game. It's touted as being the
first "Mario 64" clone. I have never tried that game on the Nintendo 64
console, so I'm unable to say how close it is to the original.

When the game begins, you start with 5 bombs and the standard 3 lives that
we've all been used to since we popped in quarter after quarter in the
machines at the 80's arcades. After all these years and thousands of
dollars, shouldn't we gamers deserve another life?

You control Zak, a ten-year-old kid in a striped shirt and baseball cap,
who lives with his parents and a cat named Hairo. One summer, his parents
rented a hut in the country. Zak was quite bored because there weren't any
other children to play with. One stormy evening, a burning fireball fell
from the sky and crashed near the hut. Of course, Zak was interested in
finding out more about what it was. It was not actually a large object,
but turned out to be a medal of some kind. Once it was cool enough to
carry, he took it inside and thought that it would look good around the
neck of Hairo. He tied it to him and fell asleep.

The next morning, Hairo and Zak played outside. Without warning, there
came a strong wind and a bunch of clouds parted . . . and Hairo was lifted
up in the air! It all happened quickly and Zak was not tall enough to
reach his cat. A great bird suddenly came flying down and tried to grab
the cat. However, he didn't do a good job and ended up crashing. Zak ran
angrilly over to this animal and tried to catch it because of its action
against his pet. Zak was surprised when the bird began to speak. It said
that his intentions were to obtain the object around the cat's neck, not
to cause harm. Its name was Minhos. He explained that he was from a world
beyond the clouds. Four different regions constitute this world, but they
all depend on a central kingdom called Laitum. An evil force called the
Misties is threatening their land. Their only hope was a secret weapon,
but to get it to work they need a specific talisman. Minhos was in charge
of recovering the talisman, but the previous evening he was assaulted by
evil forces and he lost it. The evil was quicker in finding it; they now
had this ignition mechanism for the secret weapon. . .and Hairo.

Minhos had to be on his way. Finding that talisman was of top importance.
Not to Zak, however. He wanted his pet and asked to go the mystic place as
well. Minhos hesistated, but the both soon arrived after a few hours. Once
there, Minhos was approched by someone he knew. It turned out that when
the cat arrived, the 'good guys' were ready and surprised the Misties. A
fight took place and the cat escaped. Now, he's roaming free -- with the
talisman - and both sides are looking for him. Including Zak.

That, my friends, is the story in a nutshell as presented in the CD's
cover. Will you be able to overcome the puzzles and dangers in this
bizarre world, rescue your beloved animal, and get the talisman so that
the land can be safe?

The game is presented in the third-person perspective, with the world
turning while your position remains fixed. The camera angle cannot be
changed and is well-behind you and not much higher than ground level.
During play, if you do nothing for a few seconds, the screen goes into a
mode where the landscape slowly rotates around you. You'll be able to see
Zak's front-side, but the face is still covered by the baseball cap that
is obviously too big for him. If you really want to catch a glimpse of his
face, a quick walk off the side will result in your tumbling to your fate.

So far, I've come across mean wasps who continually fly towards you no
matter which direction you go; huge scorpions; and high-flying winged
monsters. There are bombs scattered around; you'll have to figure out how
to get to some. It's wise to try your best to lure any enemies into a
specific area and drop a bomb so you can get more than one destroyed in
the blast. Make sure that you get out of the way within three seconds,
though! By the way, when the bomb explodes, the entire display shakes

You'll also come upon chests. Walk up to them and a diamond will be
revealed. These are for extra points and serve no other function. You need
to safely make it to the clearly-defined exit to continue. Getting to it
is is not always simple. For example, in one area I had to go around a
large creature to get to some gears. Once they were activated, a nearby
concrete slab was lifted and beyond it was the key needed for the exit.

In low-res on my 68030/40mhz, I found this to actually be too fast at
times. Another review I saw somewhere spoke of how high-res didn't look
much different and I disagree. I pick high-res for the nicer graphics and
prefered slow-down.

The screenshots on the back of the CD's case were obviously taken from a
graphics-card game that was being played. They looked stunning; this is a
game that will surely benefit from a graphics card, but I would expect you
would have to prepare for a really fast experience.

With the press of the ESC button, the menu appears. From it, you can
choose to start a new game, load a game, turn background on/off, set
resolution to low/high, turn music on/off, or quit.

It is unfortunate that the size of the display is rather small and
unchangeable. It's presented in a widescreen type of format that you view
certain movies in, with black borders on the top and bottom of the screen.
This was surely done so that more speed could be obtained, especially for
those without a graphics card. Yet for those with an accelerator &
graphics card, being able to change the dimensions would have been a
welcome capability.

I'm not disappointed in the display that much; I know that if I had a
larger monitor that I wouldn't mind one bit. I'd say the main thing that I
am disappointed with is that I can cheat in many different places -
without even trying. You will find that you can just walk right through
certain trees. Also, there are places where four tiles would converge and
a diamond shape would be in the centre. The sky below is visible there,
but there's no need to walk around the 'openings' or jump over them. Upon
discovering this, it was a bit easier to complete an area. Be careful,
though. There could be a hidden monster lurking behind a tree.

Nice, appropriate music in MOD format abounds. I still am trying to get
better at the game and haven't progressed that far yet, but each stage has
given me a new tune and they've all been fun.

This works fine with my CD32 joypad. You can also use the keyboard (arrows
to move, space for bomb, and shift to jump). Also, you'll be happy to know
that not a single byte on your hard drive will be necessary for
installation of this 65 Megabyte plus game. Pop the CD in, choose the AGA
or graphics card icon (with that, you'd most likely be presented with a
requester of some kind that would install a setting on the HD -- but
that's no biggie), and you're on your way.

"Over two years of work and 7 people behind it," the package mentions, and
I feel that it is quite evident that a lot of work went into this product.
If you feel that this type of game would interest you and you have an
Amiga up to the task, I truly recommend it.

With all of the graphics and music, I expected to have to boot without the
startup sequence. Certainly didn't think that I'd get it going right away
from a 256-colour Workbench. It boots automatically into a PAL display,
exits to Workbench cleanly, and I've never had a lockup with it. I'm

Oh. . .and your position in the game is automatically saved. Good stuff!

7/11/2002; TESTED ON A1200/68030@40mhz/32megs fast RAM

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