Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill and Lela
The problem that teachers have always faced is how to keep their students interested long enough for them to absorb the material being presented. Chateau d'Or shows us how to do just that: make it an interesting game, but a game that can only be 'won' by paying attention to details and retaining the facts. It teaches you the highlights of the entire history of France, specifically Paris, from its beginning up to the Revolution, but it is all couched in an adventure game format that makes the learning almost painless and fun.
As you might expect, the story is scant and serves only as a device to set the scene for the game itself. A modern young French woman receives a letter from the trustees of her late uncle's estate notifying her that she may claim her inheritance now that she is of age: his home, the beautiful Chateau d'Or. She muses aloud about the old Duke's eccentricity and remembers that he spoke of his experiments with some so-called 'sensory focal devices', and of a treasure hidden somewhere in the Chateau.
When you both arrive there to look for the treasure, she tells you that the first order of business will have to be finding the ghost of the old Duke himself since you will need his help to succeed. And so you go your separate ways to begin the search. But it isn't long before you discover that to find him you will first have to solve a few puzzles, and when you finally do find him he refuses to help you until you have correctly answered some random questions about France! So you are off once again, but this time it is to acquire the knowledge necessary to pass his test and prove you are worthy.
This is a 2D, 1st person, point and click game with a small inventory and a choice of difficulty settings for both knowledge (how many questions the Duke will ask you) and gameplay (the puzzles). There are no subtitles and the princess' accent is strong, but fortunately her words aren't crucial to your success. Navigation is easy but it can be somewhat confusing at first, until you realize that one click results in a turn of 90 degrees sometimes but in a turn of 180 degrees at other times.
The interface is also simple and easy to use. You will find all of the tools that you will need at the bottom of the screen: your options and inventory, a map with your present location, your current objective, and a handy feature called the 'Hero's Information Manager', or H.I.M. for short. It contains your 'Notes': an indexed automatic record of the facts that you learn during your explorations. And unlike real world class notes, it even flashes when you have acquired the knowledge that you will need for the test, so you can then stop studying that particular subject if you so desire! You simply click on the correct response in it when the Duke asks you a question.
It is a short game of solitary exploration, learning and puzzle solving, with no character interaction except for your brief encounter with the Duke and an occasional update from the princess. The puzzles are few and vary in difficulty, but most simply require keen observation and experimentation to solve. And there is only one place where you can die: in the one timed (and consequently difficult) puzzle in the game, beneath the wine cellar.
With the exception of a few short video sequences, the graphics are static, like photographs. But they are beautiful, with realistic detail, and the Chateau itself is magnificent both inside and out. It is a joy to explore, with the lovely original soundtrack (which varies by location) adding much to the ambiance. And the information about France is both well presented and engrossing, including some fascinating details on such varied subjects as Gothic cathedrals, flea markets and a famous Paris cemetery.
We learned a lot and more importantly we enjoyed the process. This is an educational adventure game that should be of interest to both teachers and parents alike for their older children ..... or simply for increasing your own appreciation of that beautiful city.
© October 2001 Mr. Bill and Lela
Visit the Adventure at the Chateau d'Or Website to see some more beautiful screenshots, hear some music from the game and view a trailer.
Developed (2001) and published by Karma Labs.
Rated: E for Everyone (use of alcohol)
Minimum System Requirements:
Hybrid Win / MAC CD ROM! (Hybrid means PC and MAC versions are on the same CD.)
PC: Pentium 120 MHz Processor; Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME; 32 MB RAM; 4X CD-ROM Drive; 16 Bit Monitor with Thousands of Colors; Windows Compatible Sound Card; 70 MB of Free Hard Drive Space
Mac: Power PC Processor; System 7.5.5 or Later; 32 MB RAM; 4X CD-ROM Drive; 16 Bit Monitor with Thousands of Colors; 70 MB of Free Hard Drive Space
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Walkthroughs or Hints: