Review by DGreenwood

Reviewed: 04/17/00 | Updated: 04/17/00

A pleasant little trip...

One of my passions is collecting bizarre or curious games and dead video game systems. One of the prizes of my collection is this plotless wonder, which against all odds was actually released in America. Tail Of The Sun is in concept the perfect game: a pleasing experience lacking any sort of cheap difficulty curve, but not so easy that it isn't fun. In execution, it falters a bit but still remains memorable. But on to the numbers.

Few companies would actually attempt to have a game design this loose, and fewer would succeed, but Artdink has pulled it off masterfully. Essentially you are a caveman or woman (which you can pick from any number of cavepeople in your tribe, all of which resemble hideous mutated freaks) attempting to evolve, feed yourself and let your tribe reproduce. What this means is more or less randomly running around the great plains of prehistoric earth eating vegetation, occasionally clubbing animals. These animals then dissappear and suddenly are transformed into chunks of meat which your caveman eats. If you don't eat enough, you die. When you die, however, you can just pick another caveman and the cycle repeats itself. Every few minutes, your caveman gets tired and just falls asleep flat on his face. The beauty of the game design is that there's no pressure. Some could complain that the game is plotless and repetitive. This is true, but not necessarily a bad thing. As strange as it sounds it's really fun to just run wildly around clubbing animals, then just deciding ''You know, I think I'll go explore this cave here.'' And you never know where you'll find little surprises such as nifty caves with mammoth bones in them, or giant stone buttocks carved out in the middle of nowhere (supposedly there are crop circles somewhere, but I have yet to find them). It's an extremely tranquil experience.

On a technical level the graphics are horrible. On a conceptual level, they work very well. When your caveman falls asleep you can just look up to the sky and look at the pretty stars and moons floating around in swirls of color. The animals are perhaps intentionally funny looking, all looking like masses of polygons slapped together like rejects from God's creation lab. It works.

Sound-8 There is very little music, although occasionally this little snippet of tribal music plays to get you in the jungle mood. The chirping of crickets and rain falling works nicely to enhance the mood of the game. Also the sounds of the caveman and animals are appropriately wacky.

Story - N/A
But this is the game's one problem. There is actually a point to all of this, wherein you are collecting mammoth bones to build a tower to the sun (to catch the TAIL of the sun). This is a nice little goal to strive for, but when you spend untold hours pursuing this goal, you get to see an EXTREMELY disappointing ending that doesn't even make gramattical sense. Another problem is that Mammoth bones are only found in the Arctic, so most of your time is spent heading north. Perhaps if it weren't just mammoth bones, or if nonsensically mammoths lived randomly all over Earth. Still, I am really nitpicking here. You don't have to go after mammoths all the time, and I suggest you don't.

In short, This game practically defines ''quirky''. No game even approaches this level of absurdity. But not only is Tail of the Sun unusual, but it is indescribably fun. Unlike most games where I spend half of the time cursing the screen, I spent my time with TOTS in a dreamlike state where are my problems were replaced by ''I need mammoth''. I implore you all to either rent this game, or if you have a penchant for the bizarre to go out and buy the thing. I did, and haven't regretted it.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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