As I noted in my review of 1990, we're beginning to see a lot more RPGs coming out of Germany, including Rings of Medusa (which I rejected as an RPG), Legend of Faerghail, and Dragonflight. In 1991 and 1992, we see Antares, Spirit of Adventure, Amberstar, and Realms of Arkania. I look forward to seeing if any themes develop that are peculiar to the sub-genre.
|I had trouble with the "Dein Raumschiff von einer unbekannten Raumstation in Brand geschossen" part.|
Antares is unique among these games in that it was released only in German, giving me a chance to learn a little of a language I otherwise have almost no exposure to. Just from the opening paragraph, I have a greater appreciation for how German forms compound words for concepts that we'd be more likely to express in two words or hyphenated words in English. (Although English, of course, forms compound words much more readily than Spanish or French.) Here's my translation:
In 2280, Earth launched the first interstellar spaceship, the Hope, to explore new habitats for humanity. When Hope broke off contact 34 years ago, all energy was put into a second mission. Aboard the Auriga, you have traveled to the Antares system, responding to an automated distress call Two minutes after arrival, your spaceship is on fire [might have missed something here]. Only 12 people in your crew manage to escape in a landing craft, about 80 meters east of the emergency coordinates...
You don't get to create characters (something Antares shares with Dragonflight; will this become a feature of GRPGs?); instead, you select your party of 5 from 12 pre-defined characters among your besatzungsmitglieder ("crew members"). There are slots for 6 characters in the party, but the game would only let me pick 5. If I've translated their "classes" correctly, the choices seem to be man, woman, android, language robot, combat robot, specter, mutant, and midget. Each is given a default name from a popular sci-fi novel or movie: Blade Runner, Petra, Highlander (appears twice), Marvin, Wanderer, Ford Prefect, ES, Xenia, Dao-Lin, Terminator, and Luke Skywalker.
|Choosing a party from among the surviving crew.|
Each character has a different balance in attributes (power, luck, IQ, skill, and creativity) and skills (fighting, technical, medicine, language, psi, and cooking). I assume the idea is to get a balanced crew, so I picked six individuals who complemented each other. I wanted to give them my own names. Casting about for a theme, I found a 2004 German film named Antares. The first character I went to rename was Petra (from Ender's Game, presumably). I went to the lead actress in the film and found out that she's named...Petra. Weird coincidence, but I went with the character name ("Eva") instead. A few clicks later, and I went to rename the android from "Xenia," and I found that the next actor on the film's list was named...Xenia. Did the filmmakers play this game or something?
Once you select the party, the game loads, and you find yourself on your crashed landing vehicle, with options (revealed by "help") to use items, translate, cook, heal, see the time and date, check your location, sleep, and identify a device.
Leaving the craft puts you facing west in an area (or on a planet) called Lauree or maybe Kyrion, the landscape dotted with pits and trenches:
As I wandered around, I kept getting confronted by alien creatures. When this happens, your options are "fight," "flee," and beraten, which I translate as "advise." This latter option transitions you to a screen where the options seem to be "think about opponents" (uber Gegner nachdenken) and "negotiate/bribe." The former one here seems to assess your own characters' chances against the foes.
|"Martina is the type never to come close?"|
Anyway, if you choose to fight, each character has the options to attack, use an item, use psi power, defend, cook, or heal. I suspect I'm translating "cook" wrong here, but I'm not really sure what it means in the context of combat. Once you line up the attacks, they execute in order, with text describing the scene faster than I can translate.
|I assume I'll learn to look for keywords here.|
If you defeat the enemies, you predictably get experience and gold, but also the options to pick up...well, I guess food. The options below seem to translate to "rib bones," "sand asparagus," and "biospaltar ragout." Food does play a role in the game, so maybe this is how you acquire it.
The game does something interesting with the little pits and trenches scattered across the overworld map. I've never seen anything quite like it. At various points, marked by patches of dirt, you can descend into the trenches, which open up into larger areas full of houses and shops, kind of like the streets of Skara Brae.
|The entrance to a food store. I believe the text translates to "Alas, Kyrioners appreciate their free time---CLOSED!"|
It was in one of the trench homes that I found a man who introduced himself as Kirk Hammett (nice reference), a former pilot of the Hope spacecraft. He related that the Hope had also been shot down, 34 years ago, and that the crew had scattered throughout the area looking for information. Few returned. He suggested that I consult with his colleague, Marek Dvorak, about the planet and its inhabitants while he spread word of my arrival.
|There were like 10 pages of this. It took a while.|
So far, the game feels slightly Bard's Tale-influenced, at least where it comes to combat and navigation. I haven't figured out the inventory system yet. None of the characters seem to be equipped with anything that sounds like weapons.
|The android has something called "electerium," plaster(?) and a Disk-Man?|
This brings me to a major problem: I can't find any documentation for the game. Searching for keywords in the command list, inventory lists, or monsters hasn't produced anything; the best I can hope for is that there's a non-OCR'd PDF version out there somewhere. Because of this, rather than the language issue, I'm confused as to a lot of aspects of the game and interface. For instance, I don't know what all the meters below the character icons represent, nor the two meters in the lower-right. I don't quite understand how sleeping works, or healing. This is a tough enough game given the language barrier; it's going to be even tougher if I have to figure out every element of the interface and game mechanics without documentation.
There also aren't any walkthroughs, videos, hint files, or fan pages to assist. (At least, if they exist, they avoid mentioning Kirk Hammet or any of the game's monsters.) As such, it appears to be an obscure game even by German standards. It's the only title that I can find from its developer (Nightmare Productions) and designers (Michael Wyler, Kjell Marc Droz, and Olivier Schraner). I'm not even sure I'm playing it in the right year. MobyGames says 1991, but other sites have it in 1990, 1989, or even 1988.
However far I'm able to get with the game, I do need to thank one commenter for getting me this far: Abalieno pushed through my negative comments about the Amiga, Amiga emulators, and Amiga enthusiasts and convinced me to rescind my policy of never wanting to have anything to do with "WHDLoad." He prepared a custom package for me, with the emulator and WHDLoad already configured, and numerous games already on the hard drive. It looks like this will keep me set for the next half dozen Amiga games, at least. I wouldn't have tried so hard to help someone as ornery about the Amiga as I was, so he deserves a lot of credit. I guess I still have Amiga magazines to complain about.
Time so far: 2 hours
Reload count: 0