Goes to the Academy
Trek: from boob tube to CD-ROM
By Steven Bilodeau
from Fox Interactive for Windows 95 and Power Mac
"Star Trek: Captains
Chair" from Simon & Schuster Interactive for Windows 95 and Power
The Simpsons and
the various Star Trek shows are some of the most popular shows on television.
They each have millions of fans who tune in every week, and now your computer
can let you enter those shows to explore their worlds.
In Fox Interactives
Virtual Springfield, you can walk through the Simpsons home town.
All of the sites from the show have been recreated in detail and placed
appropriately in a 3D version of the city. You dont just click on
a static map to get where youre going; you actually walk there in
a first person point-of-view.
You start your journey
at Town Square, welcomed by your host, Troy McClure. From there, youre
on your own. You can check out Krusty as he tapes his latest show at Krustylu
Studios, poke around the Library with Lisa, visit Mos Bar or go
shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart. Your map will help you navigate to the 16
different places you can visit. Once you enter a location theres
lots to do. For instance, go to the Simpsons home and you can wander
around the whole house. Every room is accurately drawn with all of the
shows characters making appearances. You can go watch the latest
McBain movie at the Aztec Theatre and throw candy at the audience.
There are an incredible
number of "hot spots" for you to interact with, that is, objects
which will respond to you. Barts room is full of toys that move
when you activate them. All desk drawers open, and you can check out the
magazines he has hidden there and in his closet.
Jokes are everywhere,
both in the objects themselves as well as the characters dialogue.
Youll see references throughout the game to different episodes plus
new material, including two original "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons.
designers have avoided the fault which is common to these "virtual
tours." Many such titles have so few things to do or see that the
player ends up playing "hunt the pixel" where you just scrub
the screen with your mouse looking for something to do. That is not the
case with Virtual Springfield. Even if you just stop and do nothing, characters
will walk by with funny comments or activity will occur around you. For
instance, you can simply listen to Grandpa Simpson as he dictates his
letter complaining to the New England Journal of Medicine about their
"nudie pictures and potty talk."
There are a number
of mini-games throughout town, like "Super Slugfest" at the
Arcade, or a carnival watergun shooter using Seltzer bottles in Ned Flanders
basement bar. Collectors cards are well hidden throughout the town
for you to find. Once you do, extra portions of the game become available.
The animation is nicely
done and the characters voices are provided by the shows actors.
Both of these factors are important because it makes the experience so
enjoyable. Theyve even managed to capture the shows humour
Simon & Schusters
Star Trek Captains Chair is set in the Starfleet Virtual Fleet Museum.
You can tour and interact with the bridges of five of Star Treks
most famous ships. Theres the original Enterprise NCC-1701, the
Enterprise-D from Next Generation, Deep Space Nines USS Defiant,
the USS Voyager and the brand new Enterprise-E from the latest movie,
Each bridge is presented
in complete detail with working panels and full descriptions. You can
walk anywhere you want and zoom in and out on the different sets. Each
bridge comes with a guided tour from one of the ships officers.
Like any museum, the
first thing youll want to do is start pressing buttons. When you
do, youll hear them make the sounds youve heard on the shows.
But unlike a regular museum, these buttons actually work. Arm your phasers
and hit the fire button youll see an original movie of that
ship firing its weapon. You can land the Voyager, separate the Enterprise-D,
even look inside Spocks viewer to see what hes been staring
at for thirty years.
There are hidden nuggets
throughout the game, like buttons which will play a personal message from
the actor associated with the particular show.
to put yourself behind the consoles that you see the characters using
each week and to actually use their controls and displays. Michael Okuda,
the artist who is responsible for the distinctive Star Trek look, is a
co-producer of Captains Chair. This means that the controls are
authentic to the show with details that correspond properly.
Virtual Springfield and
Captains Chair are two titles that I would highly recommend to any
fan of The Simpsons or Star Trek. Theyre easy to set up, fun to
play and ran without a hitch. If you like the show, youll love these
is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns
can be reached via e-mail at StevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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