Gooka 2 - The Mystery of Janatris
Release date UK: 07/2004
Developer: Centauri Production
Game language: English
PEGI: 12+ years
A review by slydos 18th August 2004
Gooka - The Mystery of Janatris (sequel to the Czech adventure game Gooka of 1997) is a fantasy adventure with role-playing-elements. Point&click fans shouldn't turn around yet, because Gooka indeed doesn't come up with the classic point and click control-scheme but with a perfect direct mouse control! People, who still state that realtime-3D in combination with 3rd-person-view needs a keyboard for the PC to send the character directly and comfortably in each possible corner, will be tought by Gooka otherwise.
This comfortable direct one-hand-control of all movements and actions of your character(s) were for the first time ideally converted by Centauri Production and Cenega from the Czech Republic in the sense of the PC users - and they have a mouse-fixation as we all know.
The story is based on the book 'Gooka and Yorimar' by Vlado Risa. Gooka, first judge of Janatris, returns from a journey and while he's brought home from his ship, he has a vision about the death of his wife. And in fact his house was actually torched and his son Yorimar has disappeared. His wife Lidra was transported to the near monastery, critically ill and as turns out later, poisoned. There she lies like Snowwhite in a glass sarcophagus, whose technical innards should supply her with sufficient life energy, until a remedy is found. During Gooka's search for his son and rescue for his wife, he meets helpful and hostile characters, among them the dragon God Glux, offering him a combat training. He must not only settle tasks in reality but also in his visions and one by one discovers, who is finally wirepulling and why.
Our 3D-hero Gooka can be freely moved by mouse in the likewise 3dimensional real time environment. Here we find the possibility of direct motion transfer to our character compared to The Westerner e.g., where the character is moved by indirect mouse control (point&click) over given paths to clicked points on the screen. We can turn him with slight movements of the mouse to the right or left. Pressing the right mouse button lets him run and a forward or backward move of the mouse changes the camera position from diagonal from above to diagonal from below. All movements take place relative to the view of the character.
Of course we can accomplish all types of movement at the same time. If we have a wheel mouse or a mouse with a middle button, we can click it for continuous running of our hero. A second click will stop him immediately.
The left mouse button is for actions, e.g. talk to other characters, take objects or select them in the inventory, press buttons, make selections e.g. during a game of dice or a turn-based combat.
Of course we can control everything by keyboard too, but those, who would like to use the mouse exclusively, must only memorize 3 keys: ESC for the main menu, TAB for the screen-filling inventory and SHIFT, in order to let your character run faster.
Turning the mouse wheel makes it possible to browse through the inventory objects one by one without having to open the inventory itself. The actual selected inventory item is shown in the lower left corner of the screen.
The mouse control reacts to finest changes and those who are accustomed to move the mouse fast and expansive to search the screen for hotspots, must get used to it and practice, until Gooka stops turning around like a Dervish and look at the ground under his shoes at the same time.
We always recognize hotspots without positioning problems (if you have played the two King Arthur games you know what I mean) when our hero moves into a spacious thought radius, by three indicators at the same time: a screen text, an acoustic hint (like the loud tick of a clock) and Gooka's head, which turns towards the object or character, with which we can interact.
I'm really enthusiastic about Gooka's controls and I even didn't change over to keyboard control, when in an advanced part of the game increasingly action sequences turned up (very similar to Ring 2), since it depends there apart from reaction also on thinking and precision.
Beside Credits and Quit (leaving the game works really fast by the way) the main menu offers the possibility to save and load. Unfortunately there are only 10 saveslots, the last saved game is always on top. The savegames are automatically labelled with name of the scene and time. If our mouse slides over the description line of the savegame, also the respective screenshot shows up in a window above.
The game has also an autosave function and before fights and other dangerous situations usually the game is saved, but I wouldn't depend on that.
Beside graphics and sound settings one can also switch on/off the barely realistic blood splatters during fights.
In Gooka - The Mystery of Janatris there is (in the 'easy' difficulty mode) a large number of simple inventory-/object-based puzzles. Among them we find standard tasks such as opening doors or locks, but also devise diversionary tactics and deliver messages. In the 'easy'-mode the puzzles don't go beyond beginner level. But there's more going on, there are always new scenes to discover, new interlocutors to meet and of course always new opponents to fight, sometimes in the shape of rats in the cellar, an aggressive, big insect or the many human and monster enemies.
Objects can be combined within the inventory too, but that runs off automatically, when clicking one of the appropriate items. We get objects e.g. from interlocutors and opponents, simply find them or produce them. We get money by donation, exchange, game of chance or fights. With the money we can buy e.g. healing potions, but also objects or weapons, which we need for our tasks. In the inventory you'll also find a note book, which records our tasks exactly, so we can e.g. look up the ingredients of a prescription at any time. You don't have to make notes of your own.
The players know, not at least by that note book, always exactly what has to be done next. In principle we have to deal with a linear gameplay. But we are usually free in the temporal succession of subtasks, which even don't have to be completed sometimes to get ahead.
Gooka possesses the ability of clairvoyance from the beginning of the game. And like the clairvoyant heroine in Egypt 3, this ability is administered as inventory object. If one applies it to humans, one might learn about some secrets.
Amongst others, Gooka must solve mechanical and musical puzzles, put together a magic square, brew healing potions and e.g. induce some aggressive cave inhabitants to turn their back parts to him in a certain order.
Nearly all dialogues run off automatically. But it turns out to be helpful, to begin a second or third conversation with the same character to attain information and objects. During some few dialogues theme icons can be selected. With dealers a special communication window is opened within the inventory, which indicates the offered goods and the available money.
The inventory keeps us informed about our current physical and mental special abilities, which we can increase by fighting. The current weapon selection affects Gooka's four basic characteristics directly: it adds or subtracts body or mental strength, health and speed.
Selection of weapons, the use of special abilities and healing potions affects Gooka's success and surviving depending upon sort of opponent during turn-based combat. At the beginning of our adventure the dragon God Glux informed us also about the fact that we can transfer body strength to the mental level and vice versa. We must consider all this for the selection of our tools in each round of the numerous fights.
When first meeting with an opponent we will be surely defeated, because thieves, monsters or rats emerge unexpectedly. Gooka dies and we must use a savegame. During the first fight against one or more individuals it's more about finding out how strong they are and with which abilities and charms we can defeat them best. Even if the fights can run off very different and by chance, players are naturally faster victorious, if they observe exactly, what the opponents do and how much points of life they lose with certain actions. In the higher difficulty levels the opposing points are not shown.
In the process of the game companions will join and support us with puzzle solution and fights.
You can select one of three difficulty-modes for fights and puzzles - unfortunately however only in combination with one another, so that you can only choose 'easy fights together with easy puzzles'.
Gooka learns more and more skills and becomes stronger during the game. If he uses more mental abilities, his mental potential is increased, if he makes more physical attacks, then his physical abilities will rise. The fights become more complex with several opponents and sometimes several friendly fighters, for whom we must make the fight decisions too. We get money after won fights, sometimes also by donation or exchange. Dealers sell us healing potions, weapons and other objects. If we don't need an item necessarily for the rescue of our family, these business is optional.
One needs luck and brain not only for the turn-based fights but also in the gambling den, which is accessible only at night. We can fill up our purse here at the roulette table. This part of the game is optional. But we cannot avoid a dice game against a scaundrel, since he won't help us, as long as he has two pennies to rub together.
You really get into a sweat with the game elements, which require a certain dexterity, speed and precision: for example to cross some pendulum swords. With these or similar, not very new challenges, a bit thinking can help either: e.g. one can overcome a pendulum sword better, if one tries to go to the highest point of the pendulum swing.
The stringing together of several fights or dexterity games sometimes is of course to increase intentionally the degree of difficulty, but number and similarity of the tasks get rather boring than exciting. So there are very many GameOvers, but we're lucky, Gooka can't have an accident while running around by an inaccurate move of ours (as e.g. in Uru), but knows always automatically, where the landing stage or a bridge ends.
Gooka's fantasy environment and graphics quality reminds very much of the adventure game Dragon Riders. The seashore, the caves, the place with the windmill, crabs and dragon eggs can be seen here too. And the medieval market place of Shadow of Memories seems to be godfather to Gooka's market place without ever coming near it's graphics quality. Textures and edges are rough, no comparison with the really noble Uru. however Gooka offers more and very different locations, not only in the material world of Janatris with the town Parenti and its environment inclusive monastery and harbour, a tropical island, the headquarters of the piratesses and the kingdom of Gooka's father-in-law with palace, observatory, caves and a village, but also in Gooka's visions, in which he visits places, which wouldn't be accessible otherwise to humans.
Many scenes can be visited at day and night and everywhere dark thunderstorm showers can surprise you - bad luck if you're just lighting a fire. Bizarre light and shadow plays are nice animations, while the glasslike sea belongs rather into the category abstract art.
All scenes are accompanied by very different music themes, which span from gentle piano play over austere medieval tunes and cheerful Irish folklore up to dramatic-exciting techno sounds, while we are attacked by anime-style moving robots. Only once I switched the music off: one of the dexterity-tasks required special speed and another rhythm than given by the music.
Also the character graphics are very rough-edged, the same with their movements. Only the faces are drawn fine and show a realistic mimic. The lip movements adapt well to the English speech.
The town and village are by no means dead, but sometimes clones are even used for interactive characters. At least one does not walk alone through quiet roads. Beside our hero we find interesting supporting cast, which we can even occasionally control in the fights. Some of them are particularly expressive like an one-eyed pirate, a female croupier, our father-in-law and the native Pythia. Our opponents in the fights, as far as they are human or manlike, nearly always wear masks, even a bandit at night puts on a knight's helmet, in order not to reveal their identity.
Not overwhelming and sometimes a bit tired, but nearly always lip-synchronous the English voice-acting. At the same time we can reread the spoken texts at the bottom of the screen, that makes it easier for not native speakers and of course also for people with hearing problems. Those who read fast, browse through the somewhat long-winded texts with left-clicks sentence for sentence. An estimable function, if you want to hear special information again without repeating the whole conversations.
During the fights the intensity of our hero's groaning is a better indicator of the degree of the wounds and weakening of his than the ridiculous blood splashes, which one can switch on and off.
As previously mentioned, the players can influence the camera perspective. Beyond that the perspective changes automatically soever we could possibly overlook something important, for example the hawker hidden in an alley. Thus one always keeps the overview, even if one should have missed to orientate oneself in all directions. The matching camera changes help to keep our hero in sight and don't let him disappear in the off. He still more rarely runs into pieces of furniture, but avoids most of the statical or mobile obstacles correctly.
Graphically pleasing by the way the main menu in style of a kaleidoscope animated by mouse movements.
The Gooka CDROM must be left in the drive after installation (240 or 360 MB) because of the copy protection check. A unique input of the key code and a Windows reboot must be done beyond that during installation.
A repeatable graphical bug shows up in the monastery library, where Gooka lost his head regularly! Likewise disturbing the slow motion speed during the last fight against the piratesses. The normal operation of the fights is already somewhat long-winded, until every participant has made his moves. There is the possibility of adjusting the graphic card settings before the game, which will affect the animation speed or the video sequences somewhat but who will stop the game and do that just because of one slow scene. Else the game ran without crashes, bugs or errors.
A varied game with an exciting story, which has to offer some surprising twists and turns. The adjustable difficulty level should give a relative unfrustrating chance even to beginners. GameOvers are unavoidable in this game - the turn-based combat produces suspense, can however be completed without time pressure and sleight of hand. Towards the end of the game the fights become more frequent on the one hand and on the other hand rather difficult what rises the frustration factor substantially (therefore no rating over 80%). With its sparse action, the useful and innovative mouse control and the successful mixture of RPG and adventure one can recommend Gooka - The Mystery of Janatris to all fantasy friends, who want to be entertained longer than 20 hours. Who had fun to play Dragon Riders, will also enjoy Gooka 2.
The German and French version are under way.
Rating: 79 %
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)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 98/2000/XP with DirectX 8.1
- Pentium III or Athlon 733 Mhz
- 432 MB nVidia GForce2 / ATI Radeon graphic card
- 256 MB RAM
- 8 x CDROM- or DVD-drive
- DirectX compatible sound card
- 400 MB on hard disk
- 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
Gooka is dreaming of his wedding with Lidra
To magnify click on the screenshots