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Myst Review

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Developer: Hoplite Research Publisher: Empire Interactive
Release Date: May 13, 2008 Also On: None

The adventure genre started in 1979 with the release of the aptly titled Adventure for the Atari 2600. You played as a dot whose single goal was to return the golden chalice to the castle. You run across a few dragons that you can slay with swords and have to gather small items such as the chalice and keys. What started in the 70’s was not fully realized until 1994. Myst unleashed a world of puzzles and adventure upon millions of people worldwide.

Even though Myst started on the PC, it quickly saw ports on other platforms. Much like Tetris, every game system you have heard of has had a port of Myst. Sega Saturn, PlayStation, as well as more obscure systems such as 3DO, Jaguar and the CD-i. Sequels have been released on PC, PS2 and Xbox. One was also released in Japan on the PSP, although it was a remake and not a direct port. The Nintendo DS version that I am reviewing is one of the direct ports that has been seen across countless platforms before. The advantage of the Nintendo DS version, of course, is the touch screen.

That is about the only advantage this version has over its predecessors, other than its portability. The dual screens are rarely of much use. In many situations, the Myst title picture appears on the top screen, although you can use it as a map or as a slightly enlarged view of the bottom screen. Furthermore, you can jot down notes using a type writer. Why didn’t they just allow a PictoChat-type interface for note taking? The experience is further hampered by a dimly lit small gameplay area on the bottom screen.

For the five people who aren’t familiar with Myst, the game takes place on an island full of riddles and puzzles to solve. There are books to read, an observatory, a power generator room, a sailboat, a lighthouse and as you find out later, other ages to explore. That of course is the goal of the game and the most fascinating part of playing Myst. Other than that, you are mindlessly pointing and clicking things until you figure something out. There are never any directions and very few hints are given. You simply are left on the island on your own playing around with things until something happens.

For most of us, this meant that playing Myst over a decade ago ended within less than an hour of struggle. The problems with the tiny Nintendo DS screen and lighting just add to the sense of frustration with the game. There are some puzzles you will solve and direction is given from reading the many books laying around, but this obviously takes patience, concentration and will require note-taking (of which the in-game tool is rather useless). I should also note that there is no cursor present in this version of the game. I find the DS stylus refreshing because I was dealing with the Sega Saturn controller as opposed to a mouse, but if you have never played the game before and have no idea what you are doing, then the lack of a cursor may be a problem.

As far as graphics go, everything is unchanged from the original as far as I can tell. There is no real 3D game environment, just still frames where you point in a direction and the next frame comes up. This was a game meant to show off the CD-ROM, so there are some short videos, but these are equally small and often very grainy. It would have been nice if some effort had been put into making the lighting better and possibly bringing Myst a little more into the 21st century.

As someone who has played Myst before and found it intriguing (if somewhat boring), the DS version holds up relatively well. There are some major pitfalls in the lighting and sound department, but for anyone who has played Myst before, these should not be intolerable impediments. It’s a good game for the Myst veteran who wants to take it with them, but for anyone unfamiliar with the game, I would just suggest getting the PC version.

Graphics: 4
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 5.6
Written by Kyle Review Guide