Review by Snow Dragon

Reviewed: 06/10/02 | Updated: 06/10/02

One thing's for sure, the Ninja Turtles don't live under this manhole

I had this on PC once upon a time when I was small and not really a picky gamer, even though it is stated that it was a Macintosh game. In a weird way, however, this isn't really a game. Even though you do a lot of mind-numbing exploring á la Myst, it's all in clean fun, and nothing you do is of consequence. It's a point-and-click romp that lets you explore a world of fantasy that was clearly inspired by visions from a drug that enhances the mind. Its quirkiness is good for kids, who will find hours of enjoyment in it. If you are not below the age of ten, however, this will bore you to death. Why? Because if you have the slightest inkling of Stalwart Explorer Blood within you, then you will have everything found and exhausted in less than an hour. Since you're all doing is looking around at someone's imaginative creation (or whatever is), I wonder if I could coerce you into taking a quick guided tour of The Manhole. I can? Great!

It all starts innocently enough: you stand far away from a manhole. You approach it by clicking it. Soon you get close enough and you open it by clicking it. A beanstalk pops out! (This game is in trouble!) Click on it to climb it - I think you can go up or down it, I'm not sure. Along this weird and intriguing journey you'll find several weird things. There's a turtle who speaks French, and a translator to tell you that he said, ''Hello. My name is Mr. Turtle!'' There's a picture of a walrus who says ''Indubitably!'' in a stuffy politician voice whenever you click his elegant picture. You can explore a tower and the many things in it. There are many undersea possibilities and a trip you can take through a tunnel in a gondola, if I recall correctly. Even though this all comes from the recesses of my memory, I'm almost sure I covered everything noteworthy.

Actually, the graphics are a treat, though it does have that 16-color feel to it that you see mostly in Microsoft's Entertainment Pack games. I have a feeling everything looks exactly the way the designers wanted it - and that scares me, in a way you could never possibly understand. They are fun to look at, but do not make this experience. I am quickly finding myself lacking for things to write.

There's no music in this game. You're lulled along by the ambience of the background sound. When you go through the tunnel in the gondola (which I forget where that takes you - it's probably best that I don't remember), you hear only the soothing sloshing of the water. A lot of the sound, as I said in my Gex review and will repeat here, is derived from people and animals talking to you. The voices they have are so annoying, and that turtle sounds so stuck-up and snooty that I wish I could tear him out of his shell. Control isn't really up for discussion; this is an exercise in seeing how well you can target an object and click on it to make it do something. If you can, give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star, if one is handy.

But I digress. Silly me - I'm discussing this game as though the audience in mind was me! It's not. This is a game for kids, and this rating is a reflection of what I think kids will think of it, as opposed to my opinion which is what I usually dispense at my own discretion. Half of the kids in the computer class or in your home will love the chance to be an Intrepid Explorer going on many a Brave New Adventure; the other half of the kids in the computer class or in your home will be bored to tears. It should be enough to pacify your crying child for a while, but not your crying adolescent or crying old man. Well, maybe your crying old man, but I wouldn't bank on it.

Indubitably! Good
--Plenty to explore (kids)
--Odd yet hypnotic graphics

--Not enough to explore (older folk)
--Voice samples are INCREDIBLY annoying
--No point to it!

Score: 5

Rating: 5

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