Friday, September 09, 2016

Where Time Stood Still

Where Time Stood Still is one of those games that bridged my transition from the ZX Spectrum to Atari ST. It was developed by the legends, Denton Designs and published by Ocean Software in 1988.

For those too young to remember, Denton Designs came out from the ashes of the famous Imagine Software and I spent much of my youth playing (and mapping) many of their excellent games. I still miss playing The Great Escape, which I personally rate as pure retro gaming gold.

Your plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you and your three passengers survive the wreckage 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. Your name is Jarret, the classic hero type who probably has a chiseled jaw and an expensive designer stubble! The other characters are mostly controlled by the computer and follow you wherever you go, so long as you keep feeding them! They have their own unique personalities - Clive is a rich fat man who can moan a lot and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love and I hear Dirk has some rather nifty language skills under his belt. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

The world is viewed from an isometric perspective and scrolls along very nicely. Music is by Fred Gray (of Black Lamp fame) and it is truly amazing, however, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead. Controls are with either the mouse or a joystick (I prefer the latter) with a user interface that is both simple and intuitive. On screen information for health and ammo will assist during the times when you consider eating, drinking or resting.

Exploration is the key to success so take your time and make notes of the areas you visit and examine everywhere for useful items. Don't forget about team morale and I'm sure your group will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering with an injury. However, don't be too eager to waste supplies pandering to their every need because sometimes it's good to make them wait. But don't be too much of a slave driver because grumpy, tired people tend to make daft decisions like splitting to go it alone! Coming face to face with a dinosaur is scary and I always use cowardly stealth tactics when I can, which usually means walking a longer and wider route or simply taking cover in the trees. This game has it all and I feel I should be wearing a butchered animal skin when playing :-)

I've been playing Where Time Stood Still throughout "summer" and it's a satisfying feeling when you begin to make progress. We've made it through the swamps, found a box of dynamite, ran like a girl when I saw a scary T-Rex and even chatted to the nice locals over a cup of tea. However, later on, a nasty hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death! That forced me to rethink my strategy before advancing across the river, only to later wrestle with unfriendly (and hungry) natives. I'm really enjoying Where Time Stood Still and I can sense that victory is close!

LINKS

 - Download a hard drive installable version from 8BitChip which features a save game function you'll love.
 - Those needing a floppy disk image can grab that from Old Games Finder.
 - Fancy a map of the landscape? This will help players so much!
 - Here is an older map from Sinclair User magazine. It's small but still handy with a planned route!
 - Crash Online has a great Denton Designs web page.
 - Fancy a few tips to get you started?
          -> pick up the rope at the start otherwise you might get into a spot of bother crossing a bridge
          -> surprisingly, it's often possible to run away from dinosaurs and then shelter in the trees!
          -> refill your flask in the river
          -> just because someone (chubby) is moaning, he can be pushed to continue for a while longer...
          -> there are two native camps, the first are the friendly guys!
          -> keep moving in the swamp - don't stop!
          -> hands love a piece of fresh meat...
 - I always liked this advert - boobs and legs! But it's a shame the loading screen wasn't quite as nice. Boooo! :^)