LGR – Animal Quest – DOS PC Game Review


[PC speaker sounds] Kris: Hello, everyone. I am not the Lazy Game Reviewer. Although I am kind of lazy. I do review games… Eh, the point is that both Clint and I are
covering edutainment titles this month, and both of us decided to start
things off with Animal Quest. Now since it’s April 1st, we figured it’d be kind of fun to see if
we could handle each other’s web shows. And hey, after we’re done here,
feel free to head on over to www.pixelships.com/adg to check out MY
show, Ancient DOS Games. Now fortunately, Clint gave me a list here of things
I should be talking about on his show. So, let’s get started. First up, we have “Company History.” Hmm. Umm… Well, Animal Quest was made by Alive Software, and… they made a number of games, including a Billy the Kid game, which, um, kind of sucked, actually. Yeah, I don’t really know too much about them. Um, moving on. Let’s see: sarcastic comment, sarcastic comment, sarcastic… comment. Hmm. Uh… Well, Animal Quest is a game where you
just sort of go around questing with… …animals, kinda. Yeh… Hello? Uh, yeah? What the balls, man? You said you had this, brah. Look, I’m sorry, okay? It’s just I haven’t
worked without a script in over a year. Speaking of, did you fix my web show yet? Ha! Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah, uh… Dude, you wrote the whole thing in freakin’
PASCAL. I’ve never even seen a line of that in my
life. May as well be a flavor of sherbet or something. Oh! Please tell you me you didn’t try recompiling
the fourth-wall protection algorithms. Why… would you ask that? Ha ha! Really, what’s the worst that could happen? Happen, happen, happen, happen… hap-hap-hap… [stutters, glitches] Alright, so seriously now. What is Animal Quest? Well, it’s one of the many edutainment
games I played as a geeky youngster. And when you didn’t have many games
to choose from, it was pretty sweet. It was developed and published by Alive Software, also known simply as Alivesoft, in 1991. Alive was a one-man band, so to speak, comprising of the work of
Bill Dedes of Santa Clara, California. He worked as a software engineer at a
semiconductor company in the mid-’80s. But it wasn’t long before he decided semiconductors were only semi-awesome and computer
games were completely awesome and started Alivesoft in 1989. Initially, he was developing simple shareware
puzzle games and interactive thingamabobs, like Crazy Shuffle, Magic Crayon, and PC-Jigsaw. But it wasn’t long before he moved
onto action and adventure games like Alive Sharks and Billy the Kid Returns. By the time he was done, he had a catalog of twelve games released under
the shareware business model, and one of those was Animal Quest, a game conceptualized by Nancy Ayash. Back in the day, I had the early shareware
version copied to this disk here, but we’ll be looking at the full registered
4.01 version from here on out. Animal Quest starts with a title screen, with different musical compositions playing, depending on the sound device you have activated. Like in the case of the Sound
Blaster card selected here, it’s Mozart’s “Turkish March.” [MIDI of Mozart’s “Turkish March” plays] You’re asked if you are smart like a fox, strong like a bear, can leap like a frog, jump like a deer, howl like a wolf, squeak like a rat, soar like an owl, or sprint like a cat. If the answer is yes to all of the above, then chances are you are a mutated freak and should probably turn off the
computer and turn yourself in to the nearest school for gifted youngsters. You then come to an off-putting off-center
menu. That… really bothers me. With four options to choose from: Forest Animals, Ocean Animals, Jungle Animals, and Young Lion… …Animals. And that’s somewhat of an odd choice in Young Lion mode there. Although maybe not, since it wasn’t added
as an option until versions that came out shortly
after Disney’s The Lion King in 1994. So if this little cash-in wasn’t intentional, then color me surprised and just blame my
cynicism. Also, this isn’t the only difference
in the later versions of the game, as previous versions also included a lot more graphics and sound modes to choose
from, including a high-res SVGA display mode, which changed the interface of the game a
fair amount. This has to be one of the few games I know
of that significantly reduces the options available
to you on subsequent editions. I’m showing the latest 4.01
version with EGA graphics here, since the SVGA mode is really just EGA anyways with a bunch of ugly high-res menu options
on top of it. And I’ll start off with Forest Animals, since it feels the most appropriate at this
point in my current reality’s plane of existence. You’re then given the option to
choose a creature to remote control, separated by difficulty, depending on how many predators it has and what it can eat. Choose your destiny and you’re then dropped into the game with absolutely nothing happening until you
tell it to. You see, Animal Quest is a turn-based game, so with every individual tile you move, the other creatures on-screen will move with
you. The entire goal of the game is to
demonstrate the food chain in action by hunting down prey and avoiding becoming the hunted yourself. Plants and animals are scattered
throughout each screen, placed on individual tiles, and you use either the mouse or the keyboard to move one at a time. I use the keyboard because I like it, and the mouse just doesn’t feel right to me on tile-based games like this. And really, using a mouse to control a lion is like something straight out of a freakin’
Aesop’s Fable, and I am simply not prepared to endure such morality lessons right now. Basically, all you do is move up, down, left
or right, and eat everything you can on each screen to try and get the most points. Move off the side of the screen to the next
screen. Rinse and repeat. Once you reach 49 points, you gain the ability to… launch the “Charge” song. [MIDI of “Charge” song] And move diagonally, which is absolutely invaluable for outmaneuvering the more dangerous animals. Especially the most dangerous animal of them
all: man! Oh, man, you so evil. Hunting down anything and everything just
for sport. Screw you, man. If you happen to get killed by something, you’ll lose a certain amount of points, and perhaps lose your diagonal ability in
the process. Before long, you’ll get through all twelve
screens and reach your home, where your mate and babies
are just chilling in their tiles, waiting for you to arrive and not give them
anything because you ate it all on the way there, you
dick! And that’s really it as far as gameplay goes, even with the other modes. Ocean, Jungle, Young Lion, it’s all food chain stuff pretty much. So just go out and chain that food up and
enjoy. Well, Young Lion mode deserves a quick mention, since its inclusion is impressively pointless. You already had a freakin’ lion in
the freakin’ Jungle Animals mode, except now you’re controlling Anti-Simba here, and your only predators are… …pink hyenas. It– really, did they get blasted with paint by anti-fur PETA protesters or something? You’re supposed to wait until AFTER
they’re skinned, you silly vegans. All kidding aside, this mode is really dumb and totally pointless. But disregarding the tacked-
on Young Lion cash-in thing, I guess Animal Quest is effective enough at teaching kids about the food chain. But really, even as a kid when I was playing
this, I already assumed that a bear that sounds an awful lot like a cow has to be totally awesome. [moo] While a mouse is pretty much nature’s whipping
boy and is screwed no matter what. I mean, basically it comes down to
if it’s smaller than you, you eat it. You’re not really learning any specifics here, since it doesn’t bother to tell you
what each thing is as you’re eating it. Well, I guess there are those buttons
along the bottom of the screen that give you more information on things like the complete food chain and factual details of each animal. But as a kid, I never looked at this stuff. I just wanted to go around
and devour everything in sight. I didn’t care what I was eating or why, just that I was eating things and having fun. So, really, it could be argued that Animal
Quest both succeeds and fails for the same reasons. It’s kind of effective in teaching kids the
food chain because it lets them play around with it in
a fun way. But because it’s fun to play, the food chain
details tend to get a bit lost amongst all the primal
snacking. In a way, it’s kind of a timeless game since it’s so straightforward, Although getting a copy of the registered
version is probably not going to happen. The website for Alivesoft still has the game
listed but you can’t actually buy it anymore, it
seems. And I’ve received no answer
from the email address provided. Now that’s fine, though. You’re not missing much at all by just trying out the shareware game. It’s got nice 16-color high-res graphics, some decent music and sound effects, lets you gorge yourself on tons of animals without somehow exploding, and the high score system kept me
playing it over and over as a young lad. But nowadays, it’s just a nostalgic memory of
childhood and nothing more. And I’m totally okay with that. [MIDI of “Figaro’s Aria” plays]

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