Friday, September 09, 2016

Where Time Stood Still

8-Bits of joy!

Where Time Stood Still is one of those games that bridged my transition from the ZX Spectrum to Atari ST and was developed by legends Denton Designs and published in 1988 by the mighty Ocean Software. In fact, Denton Designs came out from the ashes of Imagine Software - I spent my youth playing/mapping their excellent games! I really miss playing The Great Escape, which sadly never made it onto the Atari ST. #TotallyGutted

Our plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you, and three passengers, survive the wreck but find yourselves in a land inhabited by prehistoric creatures, dodgy bridges, quicksand slutch, killer rock-hands and even strange tribal dudes who anger easily at their new white friends.

I bet now you're wondering about the graphics? Just don't, you idiot! Read on...

Day and Night doesn't slow down our family of budding adventurers!

Let the adventure begin!

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the user interface that shows health/ammo and will assist during times you consider eating, drinking or resting. The display is simple but will initially be confusing using the character's inventory/etc. Control can be using either the mouse or joystick but oddly, I found the joystick was best.

Your name is Jarret, the classic hero who probably has a chiselled jaw and designer stubble! The other characters are mostly controlled by the computer and follow wherever you go, so long as they're happy! Each person has their own unique personality - Clive is a rich man who moans and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love and I hear Dirk has some nifty language skills too. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

The characters themselves are ace and really do add, well, character to this whole adventure. If you begin and are wondering what to do or where to go - don't. Experiment and take a gander at your surroundings. Check out items and see what you are capable of doing. Here are a few examples of what is initially possible. Common sense not included, bring that yourself!

1. Grab the rope at the start otherwise, you might get into bother crossing a bridge.
2. Surprisingly, it's often possible to run away from dinosaurs!
3. Refill your flask in the river.
4. Just because someone (chubby) is moaning, he can be pushed to continue on...
5. There are two types of natives and the first are the friendly guys!
6. Keep moving in the swamp - don't stop!
7. Wandering hands love a piece of fresh meat!

Right then, this bridge looks completely safe so let's go!

Sounds a bit boring?

Hardly. This game is brilliantly designed and played over an enormous map, so exploration is the key to success. Not only should you make a basic map of the area as you venture out but, take your time, there is much that isn't as it first appears. Look out for anything useful that you think could assist in some way later on. Think ahead.

But be a careful explorer - what's your rush? Who knows what nasties are around the next corner or if the ground is even safe to walk on. Rocks fall, things break and even the natives aren't always guaranteed to be nice. Coming face to face with your first dinosaur is a scary moment so perhaps it's a good idea to be stealthy? A longer route might be a safer route? Hang on, I see woodland nearby that would be great for cover and shelter...

Be a people person, don't forget about your team and their morale. These guys will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering an injury. They are quite needy and a bit clumsy too but that doesn't mean you should pander to their every request. Push them a little harder, without being a slave driver because tired people are often grumpy people. And grumpy people are harder to control and often go off by themselves!

Bugger, I've lost all my friends so I'm going to sit here and sulk!


Visually speaking you might be confused by what your eyes are seeing? No, this isn't a trick using a ZX Spectrum emulator! There are many 16-bit differences, along with improvements like better scrolling and a higher detail level. However, it is basically faithful to the original as much as it could be, without being a boring copy. Or worse, full of bloatware.

The music is by Fred Gray (he of Black Lamp) and is truly amazing so perfectly suits the gameplay style and atmosphere. However, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead. Unless you're mad, stick with the chipmusic!

Watch out you don't slip and die!

The CryptO'pinion?

I've been playing throughout the "summer" and made significant progress: my team has made it through the swamps, found a box of dynamite, ran like a girl when hearing a scary T-Rex, and chatted with the locals. Then a hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death which forced a rethink of strategy. However, advancing across the river wasn't a good idea when hungry natives are waiting. Imagine being eaten alive? What a terrible way to go...

As you can tell, I am really enjoying myself and I can sense victory is close? (I hope so). You know, this is what an (almost) open-world game should be like - a huge potential to have your own unique adventure. Where Time Stood Still has it all and I feel I should be wearing a butchered animal skin when playing it? What a fantastic adventure game this is!!

Download for HDD or FLOPPY

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