September 20, 2020
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Publisher: Fantasoft    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 130 MB

August 28, 2002 | Chris Barylick

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Control Factor
Control is another issue to be rectified in Down, and while the keyboard controls are configurable, there are moments where the interface is completely counterintuitive. While player movements are generally number pad and arrow key based from the get-go, instances like the game not loading when a key is pressed (as per the instructions on the screen) until a mouse button is finally clicked and store menus not responding to mouse clicks but to obscure arrow commands get in the way, especially if there seems to be no documentation for this.

The level design, while visually impressive could stand to see some improvement, as obstacles sometimes stand in the way of player movement even after theyíve been overcome. Not that general movement around the screen is obstructed; the truth being that it flows rather nicely. The problem arises when the player needs to negotiate their way around several obstacles at once, the borders not seeming to be well defined and even if the player seems to be clear of the obstacle from their perspective, itís still entirely possible to be stuck behind the obstacle. This doesnít help things, especially when your character is in the middle of trying to fight several opponents while removing themselves from an obstacle they visually donít seem to be stuck behind, but for all intensive purposes are.

Odds and Ends
Down sets out to tell a somewhat original story, and it does so, especially via its effective cut scenes and strong audio/voice acting. Unfortunately, there are some glaring errors that need attention in the next build. Level loading, first and foremost, is where the game falls on its face a fair amount of the time. While I can understand that the levels take a fair amount of time to load, there were times both in OS 9 and OS X that the level failed to load entirely, requiring a force quit to continue. Not pleasant stuff to say the least.

The other inconvenience within the game that canít be ignored is the serial number, which drove me insane. Fantasoft has decided to enforce the registration numbers to a secure degree, and while this can be admired, they may have taken it a bit too far. Every time the player opens the game, Down demands the registered user name and intricate serial number, both under OS 9 and OS X. While Fantasoft may be in the right to demand this, it seems to have missed the simple logic that their user base wonít be too fond of having to dig up their serial numbers every time they double-click the gameís icon. Not even Windows XP is this severe about proving ownership.

To its credit, Down is at the very least hardware accessible, requiring a G3 processor, 64 MB of RAM, 256 MB of hard disk space, OpenGL-capable 3D accelerator (even low-end video cards are capable of this) and Mac OS 9 or OS X since the application is carbonized. With so much working against the title that could be fixed with additional quality assurance testing, the reasons to buy Down online for $25 or spend $30 for the CD-ROM with the registration number seem to be few and far between. Jelly and Fantasoft have taken the first steps to making a good video game, but until they step back, take another look at the larger picture and make some crucial improvements, Down wonít be worth your time, attention or frustration.

Publisher: Fantasoft


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