Title           TechnoVenture
Category        Action adventure
Players         1
Available	Aminet
Compatibility   All
Submission      Joona Palaste ( Profiled Reviewer

Here's one of those games very few people know of, but for those who have
it, it's one of the best games of its type. I found this game on Aminet
about 5 years ago, and thought it was so good I even registered it with
the author. At first TechnoVenture might look like just another
Sci-Fi themed platformer game, but closer inspection reveals it's actually
much more.

The game begins with an advertisement for registration and the "Playfield"
newsletter, which are quickly dismissed. You're not given any sort of
introduction, but instead dumped right in the middle of the action. The
"story", what little there is of it, tells you that you suddenly find
yourself being a brand new XED-2000 robot, and your quest is to rid the
land of the evil mutants. The story is told as you go along.

On the surface, TechnoVenture plays like a platform game. Your XED-2000
robot is subject to gravity, and can run on horizontal surfaces, or jump
in the air. The physics model, while not entirely realistic, allows quite
nice touches, such as being able to change your direction in mid-jump.

While most of the action relies on well-aimed jumps (like in the Super
Mario games), there are also items you can pick up and use, such as keys
of three different colours, weapons, and shields. These come in handy when
you're trying to kill the mutants or get past an obstacle. You can also
collect money and purchase keys from the vending automats found in
strategic places.

TechnoVenture isn't set on a series of levels or stages like conventional
platform games, instead it has a big map made up of 100 fully
interconnected "rooms", each taking up one screen. You can traverse these
rooms in any way you please, providing the landscape lets you pass. There
are also one-directional gateways and message boxes to help you on your
way. This "map" system is similar to the one used in the Commodore 64
classic Jet Set Willy.

If all TechnoVenture had was one single map with one single quest, it
would be quickly forgettable. Thankfully, this isn't the case. In
TechnoVenture, the map is actually separate from the game engine, and
other maps can be loaded from the disk, or even designed yourself, if you
happen to be one of the lucky people having a level editor, which the
game's author (an American Amigan by the name of Ben Marty) sent to you on
registration. This also means that TechnoVenture doesn't actually have a
story - instead, it's more like a medium for expressing stories.

The standard distribution of TechnoVenture doesn't come with a level
editor, but since I have one, and it's a vastly powerful tool, I'm going
to tell about it never the less.

The level editor, while not actually intuitive or straightforward to use,
offers you full freedom to design the map any way you please. It doesn't
even have to be consistent. There is no law that states that retracing
your steps should take you back to where you started, for example. Instead
you can make the "doors" connecting the rooms take the player anywhere you

You can add any sorts of blocks anywhere, even if the result doesn't look
(or even work) like normal. The game will still try to interpret your
designs to the best of its ability. While you can't customise the
graphics, you can customise the colours. This enables you to set the
"mood" or theme of individual rooms. Of course you also get to write your
own messages to set the story of your map.

There is very little to fault with TechnoVenture. The gameplay is very
simple - perhaps too simple, making it look like a 1980s game like Jet Set
Willy instead of a cutting-edge modern action game. The sound effects are
simple too, and although you can't actually load ProTracker modules
directly, if you convert them into AMOS .abk format first there is no
problem. If you own AMOS or AMOS Professional, this can be done with a few
simple instructions.

but luckily you can load your own music as a ProTracker module
to add more atmosphere to the sound. Also, the graphics aren't exactly
photorealistic. While you can always edit the colour scheme, you're
limited to 32 colours, and the shapes are preset, which often isn't enough
to create a convincing graphics style.

The biggest downside of TechnoVenture is that it, like many other Amiga
ShareWare games, has reached the end of its development. The author, Ben
Marty, has instead converted the game to Microsoft Windows, and the new
version is downloadable from his homepage. I don't know if this makes the
level editor officially freeware, but if it does, you should definitely
get your hands on it. It changes TechnoVenture from just a game to a whole
new experience. This is definitely one of the games I'll always treasure
as one of the better ShareWare innovations.

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