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USK: For all ages
Recommendation of the publisher: 12 years and up
A review by slydos 25th January 2004
In the series of edutainment adventures Heureka-Klett and developer Ruske&Puehretmaier flip open the chapter "Earth" this time with "Geograficus". It deals mainly with physical geography and history of the earth. Regional or cultural geography is excluded to a large extent in this adventure, but the selected topics are already wide enough.
The learning part, represented by a crystal, can be accessed during the whole game. The earth crystal is divided into 6 multi colour segments: The Blue Planet gives information about the earth within the solar system, Structure and Age of the Earth about the inside of our planet, The Dynamic Earth about continental drift while Unsettled Earth talks about volcanos and earthquakes. The topic erosion is found in Modeled Landscapes and the topic Mineral Resources is self explaining. Who believes now that "Geograficus" is a dry, academic game, can calm down, since the actual story of "Geograficus" is an imaginative fairytale far off disdainful data study and statistics.
In a far country in another time the young Geo is called to the famous scientist Geograficus. Reason is that Balvin disappeared, the last still living fire dragon of the earth. Geos task is to find Balvin. Therefore Geograficus gives him the stone of wisdom, in which the fire dragons stored all their knowledge about the world (this is the knowledge part of the game). Geo starts with his flight-mobile towards Dragon Island, the homeland of Balvin, and keeps track. In the process of the game he meets fairytale beings, an only relatively evil sorcerer, (if one became acquainted with his wife!), a talking book and a carnivorous plant until he uncovers the secret of the castle on the volcanic island ...
"Geograficus" comes on 1 CDROM together with the manual in one of Heureka-Kletts known sumptuous flip-boxes. The installation runs automatically and smoothly. During the installation we must enter once the attached copy protection code and leave the CD in the drive during each program start. With the first installation the system check and display of the detected values are very practical. But once would have been enough (similar to Historion 2), instead one must click away this screen with each new start of the game. If you stop the following intro, you find yourself in the starting scene, where you can load a savegame using the option menu.
The Intro acquaints us with the old Geograficus, who gives his instructions in the style of the poor poet" (= name of a well known painting by Spitzweg) from his bed. He talks about long ago times, when his homeland Silvania was still no island and the earth was populated by the wise fire dragons, who stored their knowledge of geography in the stone of wisdom, which they left to Geograficus to care about. We dont get to know, why the dragons became extinct, but Geograficus could spot the last survivor, i.e. the now disappeared Balvin. With the stone in his pack the young Geo starts to search for him.
"Geograficus" is exclusively mouse-controlled, but there are some short keys, e.g. to save or load fast. In this 1st-person-game one navigates step by step through fixed images by mouse-click on arrows á la Myst. Other interactive areas, where you can take, use, manipulate or talk to characters, are indicated by different hand-cursors.
In the lower right display area there are three buttons for the inventory, the option menu and the knowledge section. The inventory box opens by clicking and shows 8 objects at the same time. Should there be more items, one must scroll. On mouse-over a description text of the respective item is faded in. Inventory objects are used by drag&drop and slip automatically back into the inventory, if not matching. Objects can also be combined in a special combination area.
A click on the options button opens an overview, in which one can adjust different program settings, e.g. switch on/off animations or the speaker of the knowledge texts, adjust volume, brightness and crossfades.
Loading and saving as well as quitting or restarting the game are likewise possible from this overview. There are 24 savegames, which are arranged chronologically descending, so that you have to scroll, starting from the 7th savegame. We can enter short texts (with umlauts). Strg-S creates a quicksave, which can be always found in the first row. Reverse arranged savegames and an overwriting warning would be appropriate. The loading procedures run quite fast. Terminating the game must be confirmed once and you get back to windows very fast either.
The knowledge part is symbolized by a small crystal icon. A click opens this part and the wisdom crystal appears. Per topic we can select a crystal module and first get the table of contents for the particular chapter. Within the chapters we navigate over a navigation bar, which resembles a media player. We can repeat animations shown in the knowledge part and zoom photos.
A very acceptable handling - the only critical comment can be made about the 3 buttons at the bottom, which are sometimes touched inadvertently, if one wants to turn around, clicking on an arrow at the bottom of the screen. Exemplary the exact documentation of really all functions in the manual.
The graphics consist of beautiful 2D fixed images, getting along with relative few animations. There is a green jungle island, a mine complex, the volcanic island with the magic castle, the ice island Nevergreen with a disused ship and Geograficus' home island. Every of these most different scenes has its very own atmosphere and particularly the castle seems very surrealistic. The few beings and other creatures are excellently animated, e.g. a speaking tree, the sorcerer Balthasar or his assistant.
From Geos strange aircraft over the bizarre structured rock islands up to the ice needles of the island Nevergreen all elements are magically-strange breathed on. Likewise "Geograficus" actually gets a breath from Myst, by the island worlds and the so similar sound of the sea. The video scenes, especially of course approaching by aircraft to the unusual places, are not inferior to the ingame graphics, and fit perfectly.
Music and sound effects are unobtrusive and become rarely conscious as such at all. At the beginning however the too loud music prevented that one could understand the softly speaking Geograficus problem-free. Unfortunately there are no sub-titles and also the volume of language, music and sound cannot be regulated independently.
Surprising, not only in "Geograficus" but in many games played in ego-perspective, is the fact that our alter ego can make noises, if we open e.g. a door, but no step sounds and leaves no shade and we are also unable to see the character in the mirror, as if he would be a ghost. But the young Geo is really there, because we see him briefly in some animations, even if only very small.
The dubbing voices of the few interlocutors are selected suitably and sound professional. The sorcerer, who suffers under his clamouring wife and dreams of a spell, to conjure her away, lets you smile and the talking book is funny too.
In "Geograficus" inventory/object-based puzzles alternate with knowledge puzzles. There is also a kind of jigsaw-puzzle, in which one must reconstruct the earth before umpteen thousand years. The knowledge puzzles can be solved by your own global" knowledge treasure - if capable, but in each case youll find the solution in the detailed knowledge section of the game. Sometimes the knowledge questions are linked with other puzzles such as coding/decoding puzzles, placed sometimes as pure quiz. A little task that expects dexterity can be found too, which is relatively simple however. One can also get into fatal situations followed by a Game Over. An example is a lorry ride through a mine. Altogether the puzzles are well integrated into the story and can be mastered without stumbling by the easy degree of difficulty. But one question remained open: Why do these poor parrots (this time a pink cockatoo) always have to be drugged in adventure games?
There were some sudden crashes back to Windows, so that constant saving is advisable and several times the CDROM wasnt recognized when starting. Otherwise the performance was smooth and fast.
I must remark a thing: This beautiful fairy tale story of sorcerers, talking trees and fire dragons in strange, partly surrealistic environments represents such a huge contrast to the real world and thus also to the contents of the learning section that one must ask oneself, how and where the dragons may have gained at all the knowledge laid down there? Surely not in a fantasy world, in which one can reconvert frogs with a magic spell into their normal shape! While you are on the one hand strictly scientifically informed and everything should be plausible, real and coherent, the laws of science are not taken so exactly, as diamonds dont come from earth, but are produced by dragons. Inconsistencies. It is like making the stork the main child-bringing character, while one would like to obtain teaching subjects about the stages of embryo development.
On the other hand the game makes fun and learning functions by the way - and thats the way it should be. Im not quite sure, whether I will know exactly what subduction zones are one month later, but I will at least be able to still remind that it concerns a greographical topic and thus Ive already won in todays "Millionaire-show"-times.
On no account one should be kept off by the demand for knowledge transfer to engage in this entertaining game. This game is particularly recommendable for younger players and genre beginners. Experienced adventure gamers, who look for challenging puzzles, are not really tested and will admire the outro within approx. 12 hours.
Total rating: 76%
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
System requirements PC:
Processor: 450 Mhz, Pentium III
Operating system: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
RAM (memory): 64 MB (128 MB RAM recommended)
Hard disk space: 100 MB free on hard disk
Graphic card 32 bit
16 bit sound card
Quicktime 6 (on CD)
System requirements MAC:
Processor: 450 Mhz, Power PC from G3
Operating system: 8.6
RAM (memory): 64 MB (128 MB RAM recommended)
Hard disk space: 100 MB free on hard disk
Quicktime 6 (on CD)
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Landing on Dragon Island
Those parrots always!
You need the target coordinates
The stone of wisdom serves as topic selection bases
The knowledge part
Some mushrooms - they come in handy!
The sorcerer's wife
This hammock can serve as slingshot
The tree-house of a gold-digger
One of many knowledge puzzles
The dragon cave is empty
Trust no frog that makes promises
The carnivorous plant prevents entering
Unfortunately there is no picture in the mirror!
The last fire dragon
A puzzle of the world
The ice island
The sorcerer Balthasar
Only the heart of fire can save Balvin