Ringworld - Revenge of the Patriarch
Release date: 1992
Developer/publisher: Tsunami Media
Game language: Englisch
Ein Review by slydos 18th January 2003
"Ringworld" is - like the already reviewed "Blue Force" (Review) - a 3rd-person point&click adventure game by Tsunami, a company, which was created by former Sierra employees.
The science fiction adventure leans against Larry Nivens best-seller of the same name, and represents - so Larry Niven - a sequel to his novels in the enormous ringworld universe.
Quinn approaching Chmeee's house
In the book, which is b.t.w. attached to the game box, Nessus, a Pierson-Puppeteer "persuades" two humans, Louis Wu and Teela Brown as well as a Kzin, "Speaker-to-animals", to start an expedition. Destination of the expedition is Ringworld, an almost unbelievable technical masterstroke, built by a long extincted race of cosmic engineers. A ring with a diameter of 150 million kilometers and width of approximately 1,5 million kilometers in the orbit around a sun, with 600 trillion square miles surface - the three hundred-millionfold of the earth.
Twenty years have passed since the first mission of Louis Wu and the Kzin "Speaker-to-animals". It is the 29th century. The wars between Kzinti and mankind are nearly forgotten. Their journey is still a big secret and only known to the UN and the Kzin-patriarchy. The technology, which was made accessible to humans and Kzin by the Puppeteers, led to a cooperation between earth and Kzin, in order to build the fastest spaceship ever known, the Hyperdrive 2. But the discoverers not only came back with new technology but also with the knowledge, that the Puppeteers subjected both, humans and Kzinti, to a transformation experiment - humans should become more content, Kzinti less martial. But it didn't quite work out with the Kzinti and the Patriarch swears revenge to the Puppeteers and secretly builds an identical spaceship, with the difference, that one can destroy a whole planet with it.
Story of the game
In the intro we experience the Kzin Patriarch and his general in a discussion. He got to know about the meddling of the puppeeteers in the first war against humans and decides to attack them with his new Hyperdrive 2-ship. In addition he instructs to kill Chmeee (a Kzin) and his entire family, since Chmeee is a traitor and a collaborator with the Puppeteers.
We play Quinn, an interstellar mercenary (human) and old friend of Louis Wu. He'd received instructions from his friend for the case that he disappears, and approaches the fortress of Chmeee - exactly at the same time when the Kzin general also gets ready to accomplish his order. From now on we can control the game.
During the game the group is completed by the Kzin "Seeker-of-vengeance" (a relative of Speaker-to-animals) and Miranda, a kidnapped female human engineer. Task is to stop the Patriarch - the three must travel to Ringworld and find there the technology to accomplish their job, again and again supervised by the holographic appearances of the Puppeteers.
Ringworld was designed 1992 for DOS. Minimum requirements are a 386er computer, DOS 5.0 and 590 KB of available lower DOS-memory as well as 10 MB on hard disk. A sound card is optional and a not required. The game comes on seven 3,5"-disks as well as the paperback "Ringworld" by Larry Niven and an English manual. I installed and played the game under Windows 95 with no technical problems or bugs. The installation of several disks is unusual for today, but only little more complex and longer than from 2 or 3 CDs. I had no problems at all to run the game, but should there occur difficulties, several chapters in the manual provide help and detailed explanation, e.g. how to change DOS settings or help with sound cards or making a DOS starting disk. The game ran also under Windows XP, but in my case the sound was missing (maybe this could be fixed easily, but I decided to run the game on the WIN95-machine).
During the installation procedure one can select the game directory, from which one must finally start the program file. In Windows best done through start menu -> excecute file. The Intro can be aborted by a function key, e.g. F6, which loads an already saved game.
One can use the mouse for all controls but have additional hotkeys (help, save, restore, restart, quit, sound, exit). In order to execute one of the 4 possible actions such as a walking, looking at, speaking or taking/manipulating, you just have to right-click and the action menu in shape of a triangle appears. Here one can select the appropriate icon and use it at the screen with left-click.
There are no marked hotspots at the screen. One must look for oneself with the handicon and also examine everything very exactly with the eye-icon. The speak-icon runs automatic dialogues. There are no multiple choice questions/answers.
The action menu also contains a link to the main menu, in which one can restart, save, load, quit the game or make a new sound card selection or volume change. Unfortunately one can save only 8 savegames. That is a bit too thrifty, but one gets along.
The inventory is represented in the action menu by a small box, which can be opened on mouse-click. We can take a closer look at inventory objects with the eye-icon or select them with the hand-icon. Inventory objects cannot be combined. We usually don't carry much objects with us so the inventory is always clear.
Movements between individual scenes are also done with a mouse-click. No arrows are indicated for scene changes. Usually the screen scrolls automatically to the left or right, when Quinn moves. Handling is really simple and fast, nevertheless each possible action is described in the manual in detail.
The graphics (VGA, 256 colors) are even today quite acceptable for an over 10 years old game. The movements are well designed and also the close-ups during some dialogues can quite please. Extensive animation sequences and scrolling within the scenes are likewise pluses. A set of very strange beings crosses the way of the three adventurers. However one would have wished oneself a little more exotic locations in this nevertheless so complex and huge world. Unfortunately there are only sound effects and music and no speech. Music and sounds are passable average.
I unfortunately have to say it - the puzzles are the weak point of the game. There are too few and to simple puzzles, almost exclusively inventory-based, which can be easily solved even by beginners. Thus explains the approx. 7 to 8 hours quite short play time. In some places Quinn (or the gamer) is offered to play a short arcarde sequence, but in each case you have the possibility to leave those tasks, which are based on reaction, to the Kzin, who carries them out automatically. If you should face one of these tasks yourself as Quinn, you are able to die and probably must load a saved game. On the whole "Ringworld" looks more like an interactive movie than a game, since there is on the one hand a number of longer, automatically running off sequences, which you can only watch as spectators, on the other hand it's strictly linear. You also miss a bit more freedom with the dialogues, where except the selection of the interlocutor not much more is left to you.
I must confess that I am not a Larry Niven fan and instead of technological Science Fiction rather like the more on sociological future visions based stories of Ray Bradbury or Ira Levin. I also had the feeling that in "Ringworld" the story was told partly too brief and without suspense and one therefore perhaps is not able to "become warm" with this game and its actors - thus "only" stay outside as interactive spectator. Of course the comparison to "Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender" of the same year occurs to me (Review), which I would prefer to "Ringworld" in each case because of the more complex story and the more imaginative puzzles, offering more identification, entertainment and challenge. So "Ringworld" remains only a recommendation for Niven fans.
Rating: 52 %
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- 386er 16 Mhz+
- 590 KB lower memory
- 10 MB on hard disk
- DOS 5.0+
- VGA, 256 colors (MCGA not supported)
- Supports following sound cards: Roland MT-32/LAPC-1, Pro Audio Spectrum, Ad Lib, Soundblaster
- Windows 95
- PII 233 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 4 MB graphic card
- 16bit sound card
- 24x CDROM-drive
The Patriarch is planning a strike against the Puppeteers
The triangular menu
Quinn is a mercenary
The general is attacking
Cables must be connected
Searching for stasis-boxes
Ringworld is home of many different species
The ship's computer is an encyclopedia of the Ringworld
Only 8 savegames
A lover's hour for Quinn
Quinn is not always welcomed
The locations of Ringworld are very different
The beafeaters have caught Quinn
A little bat-like being appears to be helpful ...
In this part of Ringworld humans are kept as Kzinti-slaves