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Tristan


Release date: 2002
Developer/publisher: Montparnasse Multimedia (now Mindscape)
Game language: French

Age restrictions: 9+ years

Boxshots

 

 

A review by  MaryScots   22nd February 2005

 

There are worse ways of learning or refreshing your skills in foreign languages than through playing a nice adventure. Just when I was thinking about my slightly rusty French ‘Tristan et le Mystère du Dragon’ crossed my path. And I don’t mind at all that this is a game designed for children.

 

Story

We are in the Middle Ages. The farmers are desperate as their food supplies are dwindling and every new morning they find new black-burned spots on their fields. Could this be a dragon’s doing? The sovereign, not knowing what to do, hides in his castle while his subjects fear for their lives.

One day donzel Tristan finds a mysterious parchment nailed to the trunk of a village-square-tree by an arrow. The message orders its retriever to set out on saving the kingdom by finding the blood of the dragon. It also promises him fame and honour if his mission is successful. Well, this sure is something for our young hotspur!

Saving his kingdom, though, isn’t something Tristan is used to and so he can turn to the wise, old alchemist for help and guidance. And there is also pretty Sybille, the "Queen" of the forest, whose support is essential for Tristan. However, the medieval ladies don’t do anything just because you ask them to, they want to be courted by every trick in the book. After all, this is the age of courtly love, which follows its own very special rules.

 

Installation/Controls

We get ‘Tristan’ on one CD – a PC/MAC-hybrid – along with the manual containing a walkthrough in a DVD-case; all this nicely packed in an additional cardboard-folder.

After the setup – which ran smoothly on my machine - is finished we can directly start a new game in the start menu or adjust some settings like activating subtitles, separate volume-tuning of voices and sound-effects plus we have to make up our minds whether we play the game on the easy level or on the difficult one.

The introduction part is nicely done with a friendly female voice explaining to us by means of in-game sequences the way Tristan is controlled, which help options we can use and how we handle the inventory. Even the saving and loading procedures are shown in an example, also with regard to the young players.

The game is completely mouse-driven and in 3rd person view. By left-click we move our hero through the medieval locations, pick up items and talk to other characters as soon as the cursor transforms into a hand or interact with hotspots when it appears as a hammer, parchment-roll, mortar and the like. An arrow will show us possible exits.

The main menu will pop up at the bottom of our screen on right-click. Besides access to the start menu, the settings and an illustrated in-game manual, it also provides an encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages, explaining all sorts of objects and terms we come across in the course of the game. It contains a map for a faster passage from one location to the next, a journal where important facts are automatically noted and of course the inventory. On mouse-over the name of the stored object will pop up or we can double-click it for a close-up examination, which is for example very important when we receive books we have to read. Using the items for interaction is performed through simple drag & drop.

 

Puzzles

The puzzles fit nicely into the story and are easy to solve even for beginners. As usual, the collection of every item we can take is the most important thing, though spotting them can be a rather difficult task in the first place. As the cursor isn’t so very big it is possible that we keep missing the spot. Most of the objects, though, are large enough to catch our eye at once, else we go for a pixel-hunt.

The collected items help us solving tasks put before us, e.g. making new objects out of them. For example, in order to be allowed to exit the castle in the first place we have to fashion our own sword. All things needed are provided in the smithy, only we still have to figure out in which order we have to use them.

Easy dialogue-puzzles fill our inventory with new items from the hands of NPC’s or allow us access to an new location. We will also have to put together a kind of jigsaw-puzzle in the form of… well, you will have to wait and see. Besides courtly love alchemy was of major importance in the middle ages, which is why we also may experiment a little in the laboratory of the wise old man. Of course, it will never get really dangerous, after all this is a game for children.

Those who still find the tasks too difficult, maybe also because of the fast spoken French and the almost equally fast disappearing subtitles, can choose the lower difficulty level and then have the option to ask Sakar the falcon for advise who accompanies us through the entire game. In ‘easy’-mode he will give us hints and fool around sometimes, while in ‘difficult’-mode he will concentrate on merely fooling around when asked something.

 

Graphics/Sound

The medieval world of ‘Tristan’ is lovingly created. The 3D characters are placed in a background of around 40 pre-rendered locations being drawn very detailed but lacking animations. The motions of the characters are a little jerky but still quite realistic. Flickering flames in the fireplace seem to be the only animation there is and which doesn’t belong to an NPC or the falcon Sakar, who takes to the skies and settles down near Tristan respectively as the boy moves from one scene to the next. When we solve puzzles the items seem to be combined by an invisible hand or as if magic was at work.

One thing I found weird was that the waves in the harbour took on the square shape of the pier’s posts. And the falcon in proportion rather resembled an eagle, but I don’t want to get picky, after all he can talk, too.

The voices are chosen quite well and their pitches fit with the characters. A lively medieval soundtrack accompanies our exploration. The tune played on lutes and tambourines is sometimes getting darker and ominous while we are standing in front of the burned fields just outside the village, or it stops completely, so we can listen to the birds singing in the forest. All in all, the developers put some emphasis on sound effects, which does not make up for but compensates a little for the lack of animation. Each location and action is provided with appropriate sounds. The atmosphere overall is rather peaceful what with the soft music and the continuous sunshine.

 

Technical issues

A small bug occurred now and then when accessing the in-game manual or the encyclopaedia. The button to turn the pages was not visible but it worked nevertheless. After closing and re-opening these books everything was as it should be, though.

 

Summary

‘Tristan’ reveals its French origins especially with the aspect of courtly love bearing such great importance. Ah, les Français et l’amour – they obviously imbibe it from their infancy. ‘Tristan’ is a pretty little game and a diverting entertainment, which also manages to acquaint us with some aspects of live in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, the stress is on ‘little’ because even by choosing the higher level of difficulty it only took me 3 hours to disclose the secret of the dragon. Children, being the target audience for this game, or even unpractised players, might not need more than 6-7 hours presumably.

With a sales price of €29,99 if ordered directly from the publisher I cannot recommend it with a good feeling. Playing time and price are out of all proportion here. Unless you can set it off as educational expense against tax liability. Even as a collector I would tend to wait until the price is marked down or the game is available used.

 

Rating: 59 %

 

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)

Minimum system requirements:

PC:

  • Windows 98SE/ME/XP
  • Pentium II 300 MHz
  • 64 MB RAM (128 MB on XP – 256 MB recommended)
  • 8x CD-ROM-drive
  • 8 MB video card 100% DirectX-compatible at 800x600 pixels
  • sound card 100%-Soundblaster-compatible
  • min. 150 MB space on hard drive (750 MB full installation)

MAC:

  • Mac OS 8.6/9.2/10.3
  • iMac or G3 350 MHz
  • 64 MB RAM (128 MB on OS X – 256 MB recommended)
  • 8x CD-ROM-drive
  • 8 MB video card 100% DirectX-compatible at 800x600 pixels
  • min. 150 MB space on hard drive (750 MB full installation)

Played on:

  • Windows XP
  • Pentium IV 2,6 GHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 16x DVD-ROM SD-616 Samsung
  • ATI Radeon 9550 256 MB video card
  • Creative Soundblaster Live! 5.1 sound card

 

 

 

 

Copyright © MaryScots for Adventure-Archiv, 22nd February 2005

 

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Start menu
Start menu

Tristan discovers a parchment...
Tristan discovers a parchment...

 

...which appoints him to a heroic deed
...which appoints him to a heroic deed

 

The noble Lady ask for a service
The noble Lady ask for a service


The alchemist’s laboratory
The alchemist’s laboratory

 


Encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages
Encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages

 

The Black Knight must not be missing
The Black Knight must not be missing



Does the friar know about dragons?
Does the friar know about dragons?

 

There’s also a task waiting at the monastery
There’s also a task waiting at the monastery

 

In times of danger the harbour is guarded!
In times of danger the harbour is guarded!

 

Burnt crops - the deed of a dragon?
Burnt crops - the deed of a dragon?

 

Let’s see what we can do with our finds
Let’s see what we can do with our finds

 

Is this the dragon’s lair?
Is this the dragon’s lair?

 

In front of the stronghold
In front of the stronghold

 

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