GameOver Feature - A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

GameOver Feature - A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

Published: Wednesday, April 25th, 2001
Written By: Rorschach

Day Four

Coming off a fresh restart, I?m back into Black and White. I would pay someone cash if I didn?t have to listen to the boatmen sing again. Or play with my monkey. And I?m kind of tired of dragging around this little island. I have yet to see anything in this ?game? that is any ?fun.? I take the grain away to a distant mountaintop, then give them wood to finish their boat. They sing about grain, but then thank me for grain despite the fact that none is around. Oy, think I, this may be a bug I can?t avoid without restarting from the beginning. I wonder if it is too late to back out of reviewing this title.

After they sing for meat, I decide to leave the boatmen alone and not get them any, and go look for the bear instead. He again teaches me to fight, and again during the fight the boatmen sing for meat, but this time it doesn?t crash. I have no idea why; bugs are like that sometimes. I beat the bear unconscious, just barely (no pun intended). He tells me that he has one more thing left to teach me, but it is very dangerous knowledge, and that he won?t tell me until I am ready. The bear wanders away, and the screen then pans over to a thin goblin that actually has fumes rising off him because he stinks so bad. Wasn?t there a company that made an aroma generator for computer games that had smells? I think it?s out of business now. Back in the early 80?s there was a movie called Polyester that gave out scratch-n-sniff cards when you went into the theater - it was said to be in Odor-rama. During the movie a little number would flash in the corner of the screen when you were supposed to scratch that number card, and if everyone did it the whole place would fill with the smell. No joke, this really happened. The strange thing about it (OK, it has many strange things about it, but perhaps the strangest one) was that instead of writing a movie and then taking certain odors out of it to put on cards, it was like they could only make certain odors, so they made the cards, and then wrote a movie around them. The wife?s having an affair with the pizza deliver boy - scratch card #2, pizza. A scene in a pool - scratch card #6, chlorine. The dog had an accident on the carpet - scratch card #9 (OK, no one scratched that one). I can only hope your generation learns from the mistakes of mine.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the stinky goblin. Old guy tells me he wants some food. Satan tells me to have my monkey beat him up. Given that the bear almost beat the snot out of me, I decide to go the food route. I drag across the island towards the food store, passing the guys on the beach with their boat. I think about getting them some meat now, but the sheep that were grazing on the nearby rocks have wandered off. Maybe later. Up the beach a little ways is another scroll over a house. I activate it, and this hippie wanders out of the house to show me an incomplete ring of stones in front of it. The stones ring like chimes, and the hippie tells me it would be so cool if I completed the ring to make them sound a scale. I have no idea why, but a few of the stones are lying right there, so I pick them up and try to put them in order. One of them kind of vibrates when it rings like a blown speaker, and I don?t know what to do about that. A couple of stones are missing, so I go out around the island looking for them.

On the way, I come across a woman jumping up and down on the beach with a scroll over her. She tells me that her husband and three friends were fishing when a freak wave washed them off the beach, and can I save them? I saved a kid way back when, so why not? Except I can?t grab them for some reason, and the old man comes and tells me that I need to use my monkey. (And after I asked you nicely not to make me play with my monkey.) I find the monkey way across the island where he last fought with the bear, so I leash him up and lead him back to the beach. It takes forever for him to walk the distance, and two guys drown. After a lot of misclicks, I save the other two. They say they?re a little thankful that some of them were saved. I?m sorely tempted to chuck the two I did save back into the water, but hey, I have rocks to find. I find another one that rings and vibrates like a blown speaker and add it to the group; I?m still missing two stones. I find some sheep while looking for rocks and give the boatmen some meat - they launch the boat and the game doesn?t crash, so I?m happy about that. While I?m back looking for rocks, the old man comes along and tells me that I?ve made the goblin angry now. Bummer, I forgot to get food for the goblin. The camera pans me there, and he and my monkey are already going toe to toe. Clickfest! And my monkey scrapes through another one. My reward is another beachball (whoopee!) and a healing miracle, which my monkey needs badly. I?m really starting to wonder if there is a game in here somewhere. I?m going around fulfilling menial needs - I?m more of a concierge than a god. Want that shirt cleaned and pressed? That?s probably my job too.

The bear comes back and tells me that it is time to tell me the great secret. He leads me to a mountaintop and starts to tell me about the secret of the gods, but clouds gather, and a voice booms from above telling him he must not reveal the secret. It?s his master, Nemesis. He?s come back, and he sounds angry. The bear defies him and tells me something about finding and lining up The Creeds to defeat Nemesis. I have no idea what he is talking about. Nemesis is yelling, and the bear tells me to run. My monkey is standing there like a big, stupid doof. Lightening strikes the bear, passes through the bear, strikes my monkey. The bear falls over burning (the little devil shows up and assesses the situation ?He?s toast.?) My monkey is lying on the ground smoking, which I figure is not a good thing. I go back to where the goblin was to get the healing miracle that was there. Some chick that sounds like Paula Cole starts whispering ?death? over and over again. It?s pretty disconcerting. The old guy tells me that my village is under attack and I had better do something. All this dragging around the island takes a really long time - the controls are starting to severely piss me off. My village is being struck by lightening bolts, and houses are burning. Paula Cole is apparently notifying me of people dying. I grab a water miracle and start raining on burning houses. Like pissing on a forest fire, I?m fighting a losing battle. Nemesis, with his 200-foot bear, which he roasted with ease, and lightening miracles, is clearly more god than I.

A giant vortex opens on the outskirts of my village. A child of Half-Life, I figure bad things will be coming through it any second now. The old man on the cloud tells me that there is another land through the vortex, and I should lead my people through it to safety. I chuck the contents of my granary down there, a bunch of lumber, some people, and then jump through myself. Welcome to a brave new world.

This island looks a lot like the one I just left only with a different shape. There is a god there who tells me that he opened the vortex. He is at war here with another god, an ally of Nemesis, and he is losing. He?ll help me build up a new village, and then the two of us will defeat the enemy. Sure, why not. The devil recommends that I let him help me, then attack him while he is weakened by the enemy, then deal with the enemy myself. I?ll take that under advisement. The god gives me a master builder villager who helps my people construct a temple, and an altar, and a public storehouse (it holds wood and grain). I?m busy trying to keep enough wood and food in supply with my little miracles. The monkey is helping out by ripping out trees and breaking them into wood. Way to go, little guy. I assign people as foresters or farmers or builders as I see a need.

The other god tells me how to use a workshop to build scaffolding, which tells my people where to build and what to build - houses, civic centers, soccer fields (really, soccer fields). He tells me how to cast miracles in an easier way than the bear taught me. He also teaches me how to get my people to pray for me to give me power for miracles. I learn how to use status flags to see what the needs of my people are - food, housing, wood, children. I?m not helping people finish boats; I?m not saving drowning fishermen; I?m not finding sick husbands in the forest or lost puppies in the park. I?m doing godlike stuff, RTS stuff, and most importantly, something that at least resembles a game. This is the stuff I actually need to learn to play the game. That first tutorial was like insanity. What the hell were they thinking? I have no idea how I am going to help this other god fight this third god, if I choose to go that route. My monkey isn?t really combat ready, and all my miracles are happy ones - healing, create water, create food, create wood. If you make it rain wood, and it lands on someone, they can get killed (I did that by mistake to one of my own people once). Still, in an offensive sense, not as impressive as lightening. I suspect the other god will tell me about that when the time comes. For now, I?m going to take a break from this marathon 3-hour session.

He's getting the hang of this, let's go to Day Five!

[ Day One ] [ Day Two ] [ Day Three ] [ Day Four ] [ Day Five ] [ Day Six ] [ Day Seven (Final Rating) ]
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