- Trial by Fire
Games Offer Summer Movie Tie In
by Jim Bray
With Disney's latest animated epic in release, kids can get that sinking
feeling at home as well, via a pair of CD-ROMs from Disney Interactive.
Atlantis The Lost Empire - Trial By Fire is an adventure game that lets
you enter the cartoon world and partake of various adventures spun off
from the movie, while "The Lost Games" is a collection of kiddy games
inspired by the film.
"Trial By Fire" is playable by a single person or in various online
multi-player modes. I had some trouble getting it to work on my system
- undoubtedly courtesy of my temperamental Windows 98 installation (it
didn't work at all under the far more stable Windows 2000, unfortunately),
so the action I got out of it happened with no audio accompaniment.
Still, it looks like a neat game for "kids of all ages."
You play "Trial by Fire" in first person mode, which means everything
happens from your own point of view. The 3D graphics are pretty good and
the interface is pretty easy to figure out, even if you aren't a kid.
The game includes ten different game environments, 12 single player
levels and another ten levels for multi-player action.
Disney has thrown in some original animation and it's up to the company's
The company claims the single player mode of "Trial By Fire" follows
the basic storyline of the movie, though since I haven't seen the movie
I can't comment on that. What happens is that you join an exploration
team and travel to the Earth's core (unless you're incorrigible, I suppose)
to find Atlantis. You use the Shepherd's Journal (an ancient book that
contains secrets you can use to find the missing City) as your guide,
and you have to fight off and/or fight through a variety of enemies and
adventures along the way.
"The Lost Games" is much more kiddy-oriented than "Trial By Fire," and
is in fact a set of five games that focus on different elements of the
animated movie now in theaters.
Each game has various levels that get progressively more difficult,
but on the whole it's really aimed at younger kids, so older kids and
adults will get tired of them pretty quickly. But hey, that's okay - the
little kids need some fun, too.
Each module is introduced by a character from the film, who then walks
you through the interface and outlines the task at hand.
The first game, called "Submergency Urgency," lets you captain a little
submarine through undersea grottos, avoiding falling rocks, electric eels
and other horrid obstacles, until you find the entranceway to Atlantis.
"Unroadblock That!" puts the kid in control of a little convoy of vehicles
and the ankle biter at the keyboard has to clear a path through various
obstacles (such as fire or fissures in the ground) to get to the entrance
on the other side of the screen. If you mess up you're thrown back to
the beginning of the level and have to start again.
"Air Escapade" is a tad more challenging, though only a tad. Using your
mouse, you have to guide an airplane around the screen, picking up king
stones and taking them to storage, while avoiding other craft. Fortunately
for those of us who like a little mayhem, you can shoot the other planes
and drag them away to storage as well - though of course it's a pretty
mild type of violence that wouldn't shock anyone.
Machine Arena is kind of like "Robot Wars" or the game "Roboforge."
Here, the toddler assembles a fighting machine from a very limited inventory
of components, then sends it off to do battle with other droids. It's
pretty Mickey Mouse (well, duh! This is Disney after all!), but kids should
The final module is called "Atlantis Captured," and is really nothing
more than a series of images from "Atlantis - The Lost Empire." Kids can
save the images to their hard drives (though why you'd want to when you
already have them on a CD-ROM is beyond me), print them out, or e-mail
them to unsuspecting peers.
The games sell for $30 apiece and are supposed to be compatible with
Windows 95/98 or (aaargh!) Windows Me. Hardware requirements include a
Pentium II 266 or compatible, 64 Megabytes of RAM and 8 Megabytes of video
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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