the writings of a mind

Title: The Secret of Nautilus
Genre: Adventure
Big Word: Submerged
Strap: Whatís the underwater equivalent of walking the plank?

For some, great works of literature are to be revered. They are collected, read, studied, learned from, absorbed, and the source of mighty inspiration. Those classic adventure stories have fired the imaginations of generations of readers, providing ancestry to hundreds of novels, films, and television series since. For others, they are dreadful excuses for not coming up with their own ideas.

Over the last while, Cryo have made their own "sequels" to The Time Machine, Zorro, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Dune, as well as others Iíve completely forgotten. (Their Flash-drowned website is entirely in French now Ė you try navigating it). So instead of attempting to recreate the magic of the original in an interactive adventure, these stories will start off where the original work left off, if not a few hundred years later. Enter Nautilus.

Jules Verneís 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was the tale of dastardly Captain Nemo and his submarine, and the extraordinary adventures therein. Itís impossible not to think that the direction Verne saw for his novel, were he ever to have contemplated a sequel, would be for Nemo to build an intricate and self-aware artificial intelligence system to run the ship for him. Oh good grief.

When this is your starting position (you play a naughty seaman, who disobeys his captainís orders, and investigates the abandoned mystery submarine, and are soon trapped by the "diabolical AI"), youíve got to have one heck of a game to climb above sea level (fnnaarr). Guess what. They donítÖ Oh, you guessed.

Itís very important to be constructive when criticising, so Iím going to suggest some improvements that Cryo could make to their releases, rather than just whine about the usual mistakes. So firstly, let me suggest including some form of a, I donít know, storyline - beyond a hopelessly tenuous context. Then I would put forward the idea that some element of characterisation of the player-character wouldnít go amiss. Let us know why he disobeys his captain, for instance. Or why heís there in the first place. Another way to improve upon future releases would be to study successful adventure gaming puzzles and incorporate them into the title. Try to avoid jigsaw puzzles and pressing buttons in the right order, as examples. Another useful tip is to look at current technology, and notice that everyone else has games in which you can walk around, rather than move in horrible, disorientating fades from one location to the next.

Aurally, this game is wonderful. The score is magnificence, a genuine pleasure to listen to Ė each new location offering a fresh and elegant musical accompaniment. So with that element sorted, just fix the original idea, characters, puzzles, engine, and plot, and the next game will be a sure-fire hit.

Margin Note:
Media Intrusion

One especially undelightful detail of Nautilus occurs during installation. Without asking permission at any stage, it chooses to install Microsoft Media Player 7.1 Ė a program I have deliberately kept off my machine, and one that is now interwoven and taking over. Iím really rather annoyed about that. Beware.

 Dull, weak, pish. Seen it so many times, and BORED now.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Cryo
Developer: T-Bot
Price: £20
Minimum System: PII 350, 28 MB RAM
Recommended: PIII 450, 64 MB RAM, 3D card
Multi-player: No
Web Address: (en FranÁois)