Today on Games You Probably Haven’t Played, we have The Island of Dr. Frankenstein.
Visual Impact is the game’s developer while the publisher is Storm City Games. It was released on October 13, 2009. This game was a Wii exclusive. The only noteworthy thing about its release is that it somehow received a WiiWare prequel in 2010.
The backstory of the game is somewhat interesting. Apparently, Dr. Frankenstein grew weary of monsters being persecuted, so he rigged up a piece of land around his laboratory to be able to go floating off into the air. Unfortunately, some humans were having a picnic nearby when the piece of land took off, so they were taken with it.
The Island of Dr. Frankenstein takes place two hundred years later. You play as the guardian of this island, his great-nephew Frankie. Frankie’s job is to protect the island and make sure that the mechanisms used to keep the land afloat stay operational. Sounds like a potentially fun game, right?
It could have been, but it isn’t. Most of the game is spent doing one of two things. First, the inhabitants of the island need things, so Frankie will have to run around to get items and take them to the people who want them. Let me give you one example.
Frankie’s first need is to find his Steampack (I’ll explain what this is later) because he needs it to protect the island. The Werewolf has the Steampack, but he wants a gold coin to give it back to Frankie. The Mummy has a gold coin that he’ll give to Frankie if Frankie can find him a chicken. See how monotonous this sounds?
At least there’s a lot of platforming involved getting from person to person. Just kidding! You run around. That’s it. You can’t jump. You can’t drop from a ledge to a lower ledge. All you can do is run around. Since the game area becomes quite big over time, you’ll often find yourself having to consult your map just to see where the person is that you’re looking to give the next item.
“Why not just memorize the location of each character?” you ask. Because some of them move periodically as the plot progresses without warning. There is at least a slight exploration aspect beyond all this fetching since there are treasure chests on the island that you can open, but most of them don’t have anything too exciting in them.
Little white puffballs
The second part of the game is even less exciting than that, if you can believe it. Once you get your Steampack back, you can use it to suck in little white puffball-looking things that are all over the island, which are known as Vaporites. You need Vaporites on occasion to give to a character for one of the fetch quest advancements, but they can also be used for two other things. There are some spots on the island where your Steampack can be used to dig for buried items. The Steampack uses Vaporites as energy to do that. You will also need Vaporites to create the mechanisms that you need for some of the puzzles in the game, a topic I’ll cover more soon.
In addition to those two uses for the Vaporites, if you go too long without sucking in any Vaporites, they’ll overpopulate the island and cause it to crash into the ground, at least according to the plot of the game. I’ve never actually allowed that to happen. But, if it can, that would be the only possible way to actually “lose” the game. The Vaporites actually respawn whenever the area you sucked them off from are offscreen, so you’ll never have to worry about getting rid of them all. At least there are always plenty of them around so you can get them when you need them. It’s just tedious.
Making the process of sucking in Vaporites even duller is the fact that, in every location where there is a congregation of white Vaporites, there will also be a black Vaporite. The black Vaporites are at least twice as easy to suck in as the white ones. But if you suck in a black Vaporite, your Steampack will release white Vaporites back into the air. This doesn’t actually affect how many Vaporites are on the island. However, it does mean you’ll have to spend more time regathering white Vaporites.
So, I mentioned puzzles. On occasion, one of the characters will have something that isn’t working and will want you to fix it. You do this through a minigame where there will be a beam of light and you have to redirect it from its starting point into an ending point. You do this by setting gears on the screen to change the direction of the beam.
In order to create a gear, you need ten Vaporites and a Meteorite. Meteorites are gathered by either digging them out of the ground with your Steampack or finding them in treasure chests, but they are fairly plentiful in both forms. So you shouldn’t have any issues finding them when you need them.
That’s the game: fetch quests with a lot of running back and forth, capturing Vaporites while you’re doing so, and the occasional puzzle. If I’m making it sound boring and tedious, that’s because it is.
The game isn’t going to win any awards for its sound or graphics, either, although neither are bad. I will note that all interactions with the characters are done via textboxes, so you’ll be in for a lot of reading. Decent voice acting for those interactions might have given the game a mild saving grace. The music, while okay, gets repetitive after a while. I’d say if you do want to try this game, there’s no legitimate reason you couldn’t just listen to a CD or the radio in the background.
Still, if you’re one of those who enjoys running items back and forth between characters for sidequests in Zelda games, I suppose there’d be a nonzero chance you might find some entertainment value in this game. I wouldn’t risk too much money on that possibility, though.