|Publisher: Lucas Learning Genre: Edutainment|
|Min OS X: Not Supported CPU: 603e @ 200 MHz RAM: 32 MB Hard Disk: 200 MB 4x CD-ROM|
|Star Wars Episode I: Pit Droids|
March 8, 2000 | Matt Diamond
Graphics and SoundThe graphics are very smooth on my 220 MHz G3 processor, so it should run well on any iMac. The pit droids are endearing as they march around, occasionally jumping with exuberance or glancing to one side. I found an occasional arrow, puzzle piece, or droid tool hard to see at some rotations, especially when the view is zoomed all the way out. Also, I found the different types of scenery for the various levels to be distracting rather than atmospheric. Sometimes they also cover up important pieces of the puzzle. Fortunately at any time the player can turn off the scenery to see impassable areas as marks on the ground.
The game runs only in 640 X 480 resolution. It would have been nice if the game had supported higher resolutions to reduce the amount of scrolling needed on the larger puzzles.
Pit Droids includes 16 tracks of good-quality looping music. The tunes are fun, matching the whimsical nature of the game perfectly, and if you listen closely you can sometimes pick out bits of a Star Wars theme worked into the melody. The pit droid actions are synchronized to the music, which makes the music feel like an integral part of the game.
The Quicktime movies that reward the player's progress come in three levels of quality. My Voodoo3 card (which does not accelerate Quicktime playback) plays the medium quality well, so I expect any G3 should be able to play the movies at medium - or high - quality without problems.
Documentation and HelpThe Pit Droids manual is very complete. There is also an online tutorial called the Puzzle Trainer, which is simply a series of 20 very simple one-step puzzles that introduce the different game elements. The voice of C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) guides the player through the tutorial. Although this is a simply an introduction to the game, as the player solves each lesson a picture montage of pit droids in action is slowly revealed. This is a nice way to encourage players to finish all the lessons.
Most game screens also include online help in the form of a small question-mark in the bottom right-hand corner. You can click on it to get a description of just about anything currently on the screen. This is especially useful in the Puzzle Maker, which has a lot of buttons.
Ugly BoxI can't end this review without mentioning the ugly box. I can't put my finger on what's wrong with it, but when I held the box in my hands I almost ended up not buying the game. The box isn't offensive or unprofessional-looking, it just doesn't manage to make the game look like much fun.
ConclusionAnyone who likes puzzles will probably enjoy this game. If you are an experienced game player who enjoyed games such as The Incredible Machine, Lemmings, The Tinies, 3 in 3, or Heaven and Earth, then your wait for the next great puzzle game is over.
Ignore the box.
Pros• Great puzzles, often with multiple solutions
• Good range of difficulty levels
• Player can accept partial solution to get past difficult puzzles
• Fun graphics and music
• Documentation and online help suitable even for non-hardcore gamers
• Internet puzzle exchange
• Demo available
• Simultaneous Mac/PC release
Cons• No easy way to know which puzzles you haven't played yet
• No returning to a puzzle in "The Game" mode after leaving it
• Scenery is distracting on some puzzles
• Some game pieces are hard to make out in a particular rotation
• I may have mentioned the ugly box