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This is quite a jolly little arcade adventure which contains enough original features to make it stand out from the crowd. The graphics are all big and jolly, and although sometimes rather slow, add atmosphere to the game. The soundtrack is also very attractive and suits the game nicely. The whole game is presented nicely and the icon system is easy to use. If you're after a more unusual action adventure then take a look at this -- you could well like it.

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I think
Ark Pandora is a very nice arcade adventure, with pretty graphics and music, and I enjoyed playing it a lot. The icons are very simple to use, and although the pace is slow, they give the game speed. Being able to design screens with the screen designer supplied is a nice touch. Overall, this is one of the more unusual arcade adventures to be released, and is certainly one of the nicest.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Ark Pandora
1986 Rino Marketing
Programmed by John Stevenson & Johnny Meegan
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the thirteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: April 20th, 1986).
 

ARK PANDORA
Rino Marketing, 9.95 cass, joystick or keys


For those of you who have always dreamed of becoming the squeaky clean hero, the type in whose mouth Krona wouldn't melt, had better avoid Ark Pandora since it's not that type of game. If you're the sort who fancies being a murderous pirate, a man for himself and no one else, then Ark Pandora and you may well make perfect companions. The story flows like this: Society isn't that stupid and in their wisdom they've imprisoned you, the pirate, on a fantasy island where you can do no harm. Chopping peoples' heads off, capturing other peoples' treasure and shouting rude words in honour of the skull and crossbones may all be jolly good fun, but it's a bit anti-social -- hence your remote prison island penance, and you're stuck there till you draw your last breath. Well you would have been had it not been for the evil cult that suddenly sprung up overnight. The villagers are now a most scared bunch indeed and since none of them are particularly used to fighting and things like that they turn to you, offering freedom if the island is rid of the demonic religion. A non too easy task, since brains as well as a fair amount of brawn is needed.

Fred the pirate is an athletic sort of cove, who can at the drop of a key leap into the air: handy for the avoidance of any floor-bound creatures that might be encountered. Fred also has the amazing ability to run left and right at a fair furious pace. That's at the top half of the screen, though, where Fred is shown in his full two dimensional glory as well as a slice of the surrounding scenery. Underneath the graphical bit are a number of icons for more subtle manipulation of Fred. Ark Pandora is an adventure, and a graphical one at that, and the six icons along the lower half allow access to many of the commands found within many text adventures. To toggle between control of Fred at the top and icon control at the bottom, you hold down the fire button and pull down on the joystick. An arrow is at your command and when placed over an icon and activated, the little sprite bursts into life and issues a window. The six commands are as follows: Look, Inventory, Drop, Use, Take, Save/Load and Quit.

When controlling Fred at the top of the screen, the joystick lets the pirate go left, right and jump, fire uses the object icon currently selected. There are a lot of objects to be found but only a limited amount may be carried at any given time. Using this control method, Fred can only be moved in the scene currently occupied, and flipping to the next screen is done by using movement icons -- under the graphic display up to four arrows indicate possible exits; position the pirate over one of these and it's possible to exit in that direction.


[This pic of the screen designer wasn't in the original review]

There are goodies and baddies on the island; animals are usually good bets to avoid since walking into them depletes valuable energy. This life force is constantly displayed and if it hits zero then you're dead. To fight the baddies there is a sharpened star which can be collected and then thrown at them. This causes them to explode and, not unsurprisingly, renders them quite harmless.

To complete Ark Pandora a lot of the usual adventure type stuff has to be done, ie rescue people, use objects and kill the nasties. Apparently the path to freedom is quite tricky and Rino know it. Quite nicely the cassette inlay explains that if after a few months AP is still eluding a solution, then a stamped addressed envelope sent to them will guarantee an answer sheet. Can't say fairer than that.

     

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Though quite a nice concept I must admit to not having gone wild about Ark Pandora. Then again I can hardly claim that arcade adventures are exactly my cup of tea. Still if you do like arcade adventures and are not adverse to the odd bit of action, this could be just right. An impressive feature in Ark Pandora is the soundtrack which rumbles in quite nicely with the main game. Also handy is the screen editing facilities, making the game quite a bit more versatile. As I said I don't really like this type of game, though it seems a fairly competent attempt at this genre.
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Presentation 79%

Quite usable icon system though nothing earth-shattering.

Graphics 81%
The backdrops aren't amazing but the game seems to be animationally above average.

Sound 89%
Boppy and varied theme tune that mixes quite pleasantly with the game action
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Hookability 76%
The pleasant presentation is fairly captivating and the icons easy to handle, making it immediately playable.

Lastability 77%
Depends on what you like, not a game for the alien zappers of this world though it should be fairly lastable for the adventurites.

Value For Money 79%
Little below what an average price now is, though the game itself is average.

Overall 80%
Not an exceptional release though it could cause pleasure to fans of this genre.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (19 Jun 2005)

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