Review: Beached II
Written by: Marc Boxall
System 7.0 or later
68020 or faster or PowerPC
Ahh, the tropics. Gin-clear waters. Glorious sunshine. Desert Islands.
The latter is the setting for Mark Boxall’s new strategy game, Beached II. Once I read the description of the game, I had to get my hands on it. I am a big fan of strategy games, and it’s a refreshing change of pace when I come across one that doesn’t involve warfare.
Boxall sets the stage for his game when he writes:
Whilst traveling out on the open sea your boat sinks. You and two others are washed onto a tropical island. The island is a paradise with trees bananas coconuts and vines. However you suddenly remember the long range weather forecast. A tornado will form in this area in about one week. You must work hard to build a raft to get off the island but also make sure you keep alive by eating drinking and sleeping. The other survivors must build their own rafts too. You must decide if and when you help them or if you line your own pockets with gold.
As in the classic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, there are three implements which our stranded heroes can use to achieve their ultimate goal of survival—a saw, a desalinator, and a fishing pole. The saw obviously helps in the felling of trees, the desalinator keeps our heroes from dying of thirst, and the fishing pole helps stave off starvation. The catch is that during the game set up, each player only has two of the implements, so bartering becomes a valuable skill to master.
However, not all of the implements are created equally. If you don’t have the desalinator, you can still harvest coconuts and drink the coconut milk. If you don’t have the fishing pole, either coconuts or bananas are available as sustenance. Unfortunately, the only way to fell trees is with the saw. I have been playing the game for a few weeks now, and have yet to get off the island without it.
Besides eating food and drinking water, the player must manage the amount of rest they get, lest they die of fatigue. While players may sleep anywhere on the island, they get the most benefit from sleeping in a camp which they set up.
The camp is more than just a place to sleep. In order to build your raft, you have to cut trees and harvest vines. Since you can only carry so many trees and vines at once, you have to stash your materials at your camp as well.
Building the raft is as easy as collecting the requisite eight logs and four vines and building the raft turn by turn. I was disappointed the first time I completed a raft because there was no indication from the game that I had succeeded in my task. Suddenly, my character just ceased to be on the island. An announcement that I had been saved would be a nice addition to the game.
One strange activity Boxall has included in the game is the ability to mine for gold. I was reminded of the scene in Titanic when Kate Winslet’s rich fiancé offered the ship’s mate a big wad of cash for a spot on one of the last life boats. The ship’s mate threw the money back at him and asked what good it would be to a dead man. With the ever-present threat of starvation and dehydration, and a storm-imposed deadline a few days away, mining for gold was the last thing I would consider doing in the game.
Game control was difficult at best. Each game began with me moving the mouse over each of the three characters to determine which one I was controlling. I also found it challenging to make my character move in the direction I wanted him to go. The mouse controls were pretty sloppy, and I wasted several moves having to correct errant mouse clicks.
Technically, I found myself very disappointed. Fully one quarter of the times I played this game, my LC 580 froze or gave me a bus error. This is way too frequently for my taste. However, the author has encouraged users to report bugs so he could improve the game—I will be sure to forward this to his attention.
And, one side note. Living in Florida has give me a real education in severe weather. We see the fourth largest number of tornadoes in the United States here in Florida, and we always keep a wary eye turned to the sky during hurricane season. All of the exposure to these weather phenomena has taught me that tornadoes are random, unpredictable events which touch down without any warning, while hurricanes can be observed and tracked for days on end as they chug across the Atlantic. By telling the players that a tornado is expected in a week stuck with me every time I played. I guess I have to start watching less of the Weather Channel.
So, if you are looking for a strategy game that doesn’t involve warfare, you had best put on your steel pot and march back to war. Beached doesn’t yet have the right stuff.