Friday, April 26, 2013

Loonatics Unleashed - Acmegeddon: Part Two (Snark)

Last time on Loonatics Unleashed, a new uber-villain with about the worst possible choice for a voice actor freed some of the Loonatics’ old enemies to plant some kind of device in their headquarters for no adequately explained reason. When the villains failed he sucked them back to his headquarters with Daffy tagging along for the ride. Then Zadavia showed up to explain how the new villain is…her brother!!

“My brother will exterminate anyone close me.” We’re going to find out something about her that makes that sound kind of dickish of her, not that Zadavia wasn’t pretty dickish anyway. But for the moment, also consider “If we do not act soon, Acmetropolis will be destroyed.” Everyone on the entire planet’s close to her, then?

After the theme song it almost sounds like Bugs is finally doing a little something to call Zadavia out on all her mysterious bitchy behavior throughout the season as he asks, “So chief, you gonna spill the beans or do we wait for Duck to end up as your brother’s main course?”

She does indeed answer, explaining she’s from the planet Freleng (get it?). She and Optimatus were born into the royal family, but Optimatus was…not very nice. Which nobody found out until the day he was a young man and announced to some kind of council or other that he wanted them to help him take over the universe. His megalomaniacal tendencies seem like something that would’ve come up before. I don’t care if you like this show, there's not much in the way of shades of gray.

When the council refused to back him, his (of course) robotic minions took them hostage and Optimatus installed himself as dictator of Freleng. Fearing his pacifistic sister would plot against him, he tried to capture her too, but she easily fought off his stupid robots and slightly less easily Optimatus himself with rainbow lasers from her hands. Because she has quite a bit in the way of superpowers herself, it turns out. Ultimately she fled Freleng in a spaceship. Optimatus was “accidentally” caught in the thrust as the ship blasted off, explaining his mildly mangled features.

She fled to Acmetropolis. “I thought I left no trace for him to follow. I was wrong. Somehow, my brother found me.” He was the one who tossed the meteor at Acmetropolis that gave everybody their powers, you see. It was her intervention, via some really big rainbow cannons, that prevented an apocalypse and just resulted in the show as we know it.

Let’s think a little about how, by Zadavia’s own admission, she just left Freleng under Optimatus’s absolute rule. No mention of all the other planets in the universe he intended to conquer she left to fend for themselves. No mention either of her intending to gather allies and go back. Zadavia came to Acmetropolis to hide out from her brother and that’s it. The creation of the Loonatics was a nothing but a happy accident. Ain’t Zadavia great?

But here’s what I really don’t get. If Zadavia had such great powers at her disposal, and Optimatus already knew she was there because he tried to destroy the planet with the meteor that empowered everybody…why has she been hiding behind the Loonatics all this time? What did operating at a remove achieve? At least say she was trying to get them ready to take them back to Freleng and overthrow Optimatus with her. I’m sorry, I just don’t get that. I get instead that she was too chicken to do anything but run and hide, and had a convenient excuse to keep doing so when there was a superhero team to do the dirty work for her. Until Optimatus finally decided to stop fooling around and get directly involved, anyway.

Hell, think back to The Comet Cometh, where Wile E. had to build the team a ship so they’d have a way to get to the asteroid that was about to pulp the planet. He mentions that now and the upgrades he’d have to install to get to that volcanic asteroid thing (where Zadavia detected his presence). She tells him no need, they can just go in her ship. And she made Wile E. build a spaceship from scratch when her new home was facing meteoric annihilation for the second time, because of her presence, which she damn well knows was why, because…??

He probably meant it as a joke, but I found it a little gratifying when Bugs looks at the ship and quips, “You been holding out on us.”

On the asteroid Optimatus berates the villains again and has one of his robot troopers take Daffy away. Because there’s no reason to just kill him and have it over with. Other than the writing sucking like I just described…

As the Loonatics speed to the rescue, Wile E. finds a gizmo that looks just like the chip the villains used on the Loonatics computers (which was supposed to do what, again?). Zadavia explains that her planet’s technology is universal and can be used to control any kind of technology. It makes even less sense than the problem it's used to resolve.

Oh, and Bugs, who was already driving, doesn’t ask how the controls actually work until they’re halfway there. *Whimpers*

Remember how I asked why Zadavia made the Loonatics do all the work when she had so much power of her own? Optimatus calls them and sends a taunting message that they’re about to meet their doom, then launches some really stupid-looking attack ships to shoot them down. When the Loonatics start to get overwhelmed Zadavia herself flies out of the ship and blasts the bogeys or throws them into each other with her own powers.

She does get zapped and starts to get dragged away by one ship, but that’s probably because Bugs distracted her by telling her it wasn’t a good time “to go for a stroll.” Taking a page from his beloved leader’s book, Bugs tells the other Loonatics to get out there and save their boss. He does promise to cover them, but he wasn’t handling the weapons very well, and that really was the whole reason Zadavia had to go out there…

The other Loonatics fly out in some stupid-looking jet-equipped spacesuits that were no doubt figure variants for the toy line this show mercifully didn’t rate. They’re able to take out a few ships (but not save Zadavia), but then their ship is shot down with Bugs still inside. They’re all torn up inside at the demise of their leader…for about two seconds before he reveals he got out in time. Lexi hugs him with relief, and maybe that’s supposed to be an indication of a romantic subplot, but…neither of them have personalities and the writers have put no emphasis on their personal lives and I don’t care.

We then cut to Daffy in the hoosegow, and get an idea of just how the show overinflates Bugs’s greatness. See, Daffy escapes by tricking the robot into giving him a glass of water, then throwing it on the robot while it touches the electrified bars, shorting them both out. As hard as it wants me to believe otherwise, this show's version of Bugs simply can't come up with a plan that doesn't culminate in him shooting lasers out of his eyes.

Optimatus has his sister brought in to watch as he destroys Acmetropolis. The villains protest because he promised to let them rule it. Massive’s actually the one to point this out, even though he was the one who thought Optimatus might just be using them. Besides, they failed to live up to their end, ergo their reward is forfeit. The villains ought to be glad Optimatus thought enough of their potential usefulness to let them live at all…except for how they’re villains.

They attack him, but are easily overwhelmed. And Massive calls him a “one-eyed Cyclops.” From that line alone, I can’t imagine how Warner Brothers thought there was a chance to save this show.

Clash of the Third Rate Villains.

Daffy sneaks in and takes his powers back from the unconscious Sypher just before Optimatus gates his former accomplices back to Acmetropolis to await its demise. Daffy gets in Optimatus’s face to stop him from getting doomsday started, and wreaks havoc on the villain’s robot forces with their stupidity and his ability to teleport out of the way when two of them shoot at him from opposite sides. I don’t know if the show’s more down on him than it has any right to be or the villains just suck.

Then again, the robot who brought Daffy his water seriously did have a slice of lemon to go with it when he asked for one. I wept for the fact that I was supposed to see them challenge the heroes, but I will admit to being a bit amused. See? I can even compliment this show when it earns it.

He keeps the stupid robots busy long enough for the rest of the Loonatics to get there, and then Zadavia and Optimatus themselves grapple in a struggle for supremacy that’s about as pulse-pounding as the one between Edward Cullen and Victoria, with all the stupid rainbows flying around.

While this goes on our idiot heroes tries to stop Optimatus’s new plan to destroy Acmetropolis (why does he even care if his hated sister is right there in his lair along with her protégés, surrounded by his army?). This one using a giant wormhole to send Acmetropolis to “some kind of cosmic meat locker.” Because outer space isn’t cold anyway. By the way, Optimatus never said that on-screen. Maybe the script did say that. Maybe it even explained that the chip he gave his flunkies to install in Loonatics HQ was necessary for that part of his plan. But neither made it into the show.

Unfortunately Wile E.’s too unfamiliar with Freleng’s technology to stop it. But then he remembers the chip Zadavia told him about that can be used to run anything, like Optimatus's computer. But the chip's still an example of that planet’s technology, and he presumably still has to program it to make the computer do what he wants, so I fail to see how we’ve moved from our starting point at all.

But it does let him stop the doomsday weapon, and honestly I’d rather they not try to get scientific. My head hurts enough already. The Loonatics keep the robots busy while Wile E. tinkers with the doomsday machine. And remember what I said about Zadavia hiding behind the Loonatics when she has so much personal power? Yeah, she wins the fight with Optimatus.

The “good guys” get away, Optimatus gets sucked into his own wormhole into “some cold, remote part of the universe.” And Optimatus is indeed shivering in front of a pathetic little campfire in the ruins of his command center. Look, Loonatics writers? I already know you guys aren’t very good, but space is cold. By default. There’s no reason for any part of space to be colder than any other if they’re equally distant from stars. And I suck at science. And I'm only bringing it up because they did.

Back on Acmetropolis everyone starts to realize the world isn’t about to end after all, including the villains. They figure the Loonatics probably sacrificed themselves to stop Optimatus and nobody’s left who can stop them from taking over the world. Even though they didn’t trust each other even when they were working for him. What’s to keep them honest now? They are freaking villains.

As usual it doesn’t matter because we know the Loonatics aren’t dead. They appear and rush to battle their lesser foes as things fade to end credits.

And that, my friends, is Loonatics Unleashed season one with the just plain lame episodes omitted. I don’t know about you, but I can sure tell this was a redesign slapped together in a hurry by people trying to develop a concept that was fundamentally unworkable in the first place. When the first version got smacked down hard, it seems they decided to play it as safe as a comic book-type cartoon as humanly possible. No characterization, no world-building, minimal explanations, an absolutely pathetic attempt at an underlying plot, and no effort made at all on the freaking jokes.

I know I’ve said multiple times I don’t usually take behind-the-scenes factors into account when I make my observations in these reviews, and I meant that. But I’d be interested in hearing what executive decisions took place after the change from the original “scary” version to the bland finished product. It doesn’t feel like a superhero show or a Looney Tunes vehicle, and barely feels like the latter even in the second season. It just happens to have more familiar faces than the main characters by then.

If anything, the first season’s many failings probably came from a tight deadline and the desperate push to salvage the show after the much worse original concept was thankfully dropped. But failings are failings no matter their source, and this was one of the lamest excuses for a climax I’ve ever seen. Technically Breaking Dawn's is worse, but after three books of nothing there was no possible way for me to be let down.

Did the show get better after this? Yes. A little. But was it doomed from the start? Yes. A lot.

The DVD set came without much in the way of bonus features, mainly the option to watch all the trailers again, but also a very dumb Dragon’s Lair-style game where you use the direction buttons on your remote to shoot down meteors. If you fail the Loonatics are annihilated in a blast visible from orbit.

I lost a good couple times before I got bored, let me tell you, buddy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Loonatics Unleashed - Acmegeddon: Part One (Snark)

Just for the record yes I’m skipping the stupid time-warp episode. Here we go guys, the senses-shattering season finale of Loonatics Unleashed!

Loonatics HQ is prominently framed against the Acmetropolis skyline. Despite the city being the whole planet, it never seems much bigger than a regular city on a superhero show, does it?

Look, if I shouldn’t think about it, they shouldn’t mention it.

Then a train whizzes by. I could mention there’s no way in hell it got from where we first saw to where it was in the distance a second later, but I think I’d better pace myself. This is a two-parter, after all.

This proves to be a train transferring supervillains. A loudspeaker warns a group of guards, “Today we’re transporting four of the most dangerous criminals to a new maximum security facility.” Which sounds like something everybody would’ve been briefed on already, but then everybody’s a moron on this show.

Those villains are Sypher, Mastermind, Weather Vane (who was never actually captured) and Massive. We’re informed, “They’ll be under the supervision of one of the most courageous members of the Loonatics.” The show’s predictable joke powers running full-tilt, this turns out to be Daffy.

A blue wormhole suddenly appears in the train and sucks the villains inside. They’re shit back out on some generic barren asteroid and find themselves face-to-faceplate with this show’s idea of a master villain, Optimatus (op-tuh-mot-us).

Not only is that a woefully stupid name, but they hired Charlie Adler to do his voice. Look, I have plenty of respect for Charlie. He’s got a good range, but the one role he’s no good at is this one. He probably can’t help it, but the way his voice sounds, there's this smarmy quality underlying all his lines like he’s parodying the kind of world-beating master villain he’s supposed to actually be. Which is probably why this show’s one of the few where he plays this kind of villain instead of a goofy one or a serious villain’s goofy sidekick.

And I never would’ve guessed that spelling from that pronunciation, but later we have characters referring to him with nicknames like “Optomato.” Must make life a lot simpler when you can read people's names off a script.

Wait, Daffy's voiced by...Peter Pan??

Our villain for the evening offers to let the four of them rule Acmetropolis “and all its resources” if they’ll get rid of the Loonatics for him. The villains huddle up and discuss the merits of throwing in with Optimatus, and even though Massive notes he probably just wants to use them as pawns to take over Acmetropolis himself, they agree to do his dirty work because the writing isn’t sophisticated enough for them to do anything else. Even though Sypher tries to cut a deal to be allowed to steal the other villains’ powers and handle things by himself (which the other villains shut down).

Optimatus gives his little task force a computer chip to insert once they take over the Loonatics’ headquarters. Not what to insert it into, just to insert it when they’re in the Loonatics HQ.

Speaking of Loonatics HQ, Daffy’s terrified of when Zadavia checks in and finds out how the villains disappeared on his watch. Who put him in charge of that anyway? In-show at least he’s supposed to be the least competent team member. Did Zadavia/Bugs figure that was a job even he couldn’t screw up and gave it to him to give the others some peace and quiet?  Wouldn’t that make this their fault, really?

Actually, for once the others are willing to cut Daffy some slack. Zadavia already knows about the villains escaping and seems uncharacteristically worried when Daffy tells her what happened, confirming something powerful and far beyond Daffy’s control was responsible. She then disappears and we see where Zadavia lives, which apparently is Center Neptune from Battle of the Planets. She talks to herself about how she’s running out of time and “he” is coming for her. Look lady, when your face is popping out of giant billboards, you don’t seem all that concerned with laying low.

And oh dear, are we finally going to hear the backstory of this character who never existed before this show? Sorry guys, you waited a little too long, screwed up making certain characters sympathetic or otherwise a little too badly, and made your fictitious world way too stupid for this to be worth the wait.

Back to the Loonatics and Daffy’s brandishing around a bunch of those laser guns most of the Loonatics have no need for except for looking “cool.” He promises to track down and recover the missing villains, with Bugs piping up, “I don’t think so.” And what do you suggest, Mr. Ace Hero Team Leader? That’s exactly what your exalted Zadavia told you guys to do.

Lexi explains “this is just another sad, desperate attempt to kiss up to Zadavia and hog all the glory.” Excuse me? All Daffy said was he was gung ho about finding and recapturing the villains, as all of you should be. Lexi’s just seizing the moral high ground because the writers seem to think she and the rest of the team automatically have it over Daffy. Sorry writing staff dudes, despite what twifans might have thought that’s not how characterization works. If one character’s supposed to be less likable than the others, you have to actually make the other characters more likable. And the other Loonatics are…nothing. They’re not even stereotypes, they’re that flat and boring. Lexi herself just comes across as kind of a bitch who’s overly concerned about looking fat in the one or two other times the writers deemed to give her another character trait.

Bugs does agree to let Daffy go off on his own to find the villains, but only if Roadrunner goes with him. Daffy refuses until Roadrunner plays on his ego, saying he could be Daffy’s sidekick rather than his partner. After they’re gone, Lexi voices suspicion that Bugs did that just to get Daffy out of the way. He coyly replies he has no idea what she’s talking about.

They don’t elaborate further, so let me ask, what’s the plan? There’s four supervillains out there, all of whom were able to menace the entire team on their own. And Bugs is depleting their powerbase to keep Daffy occupied and out of the way for…what reason? If Daffy’s just dead weight when they’re facing this big of a threat, why do they keep him around in the first place? PR reasons or something?

The Loonatics seem like they’re supposed to be basically a cartoon animal Justice League, but nobody on the writing team seemed to understand that the reason a superhero team puts up with a member who’s (supposed to be) an asshole is he’s still useful to have around. Usually because of a reason like he provides capabilities nobody else on the team does. But the show never asks that question. Daffy’s an asshole because that’s always been his role, and nobody ever even gets a moment where they get to display a different side.

That’s awfully lazy and unobservant for people trying to create something to appeal to the demographic hooked on the darkness and sophisticated writing of anime shows, is all I’m saying.

Bugs doesn’t appear to have any plan in mind anyway, since he asks Wile E. to scan for any power surge, gravity anomaly, anything at all suspicious. It doesn’t take them long to detect Sypher raising havoc at the Acmetropolis Zoo, and they jet out to confront him.

When they get there, after trading some lame insults Sypher reveals he’s juiced up for the confrontation by stealing some of the animals’ abilities. “The kangaroo’s hop, the falcon’s speed, and the grizzly bear’s strength.” Wile E., not showing off much of that vaunted brainpower, tells Sypher to give up since he’s outnumbered four to one. Maybe if it seemed like they’d actually brought anything or developed any tactics to take into account his powers (let alone the powers of the other villains they know are on the loose).

But no, that’s just a handy opening for the rest of the villains to step out of the shadows and announce their teamup with Sypher. Even though we already knew about that. Look, it’s not a given that the villains would’ve teamed up, but it’s a possibility. And one the Loonatics didn’t anticipate at all.

It still being pretty early into an episode of an extremely mediocre action show, the Loonatics have forgotten all about the tactics and/or devices they used to defeat these same villains before and the villains gain the upper hand with ease. Bugs tries to zap Massive, even though none of them were able to hurt him before, and gets smooshed against the ground. Lexi gets blown away by a tornado from Weather Vane (although it’s purple like Taz’s spinning and for a second I thought they’d fallen to fighting amongst themselves).

Taz tries to throw something big at Sypher only for Sypher to throw something bigger at him first. Wile E.’s so off-guard he doesn’t even guess that the silver dust Mastermind blows at him is in fact nanites that start up his jetpack and smash him into a wall.

The Loonaturds wake up in Mastermind’s old cell. She gloats at this reversal. I’d ask if the villains had to take over the prison and why they didn’t release the other inmates because we never hear about that, but astoundingly we hear a throwaway line later that the prison was shut down. No word of what happened to the other inmates and if the villains were being shipped to a new jail just for their ilk, but at least we got that one bit.

“Hey Craniac, you ever get premonitions? Cuz here’s a psychic flash!” So saying, Bugs shoots his laser vision at the bubble. What the fudge…? What kind of witty banter is that supposed to be?! What does that have to do with anything, or what he actually does?

You kinda deserved that, Bugs.

And did he really think a jail cell intended for a supervillain wouldn’t give him any problems?
“Prisoner-specific defenses? Nice,” Wile E. admits. That’s pretty standard fare for supervillain incarceration. Shit, how long ago did they publish Escape from Stronghold, anyway? Besides, the pods the villains were in when they were loaded onto the train were supposedly responsible for neutralizing their powers. We didn’t see how that worked, but that still sounds like the technology’s already been implemented elsewhere.

And did Bugs really think a super-genius wouldn’t lock them somewhere they couldn’t just zap their way out of easily? Then again, this is the same guy who thought she wouldn’t lock the obvious ways in after taking over their headquarters, too. Way to go, idiots.

Sypher asks to be allowed to steal the Loonatics’ powers—and thus no more superheroes to bug them--but the other villains still don’t trust him and leave him to stand guard while they go to track down Daffy and Roadrunner. The three villains easily get inside Loonatics HQ by having Mastermind use a hologram to make herself look like Daffy.

That’s another element of bad world-building I probably should’ve touched on before. That is, when super high-tech stuff is everywhere, these gadgeteer types likes Mastermind and Wile E. don’t seem so special. These characters are a lot more notable in a modern setting where things like laser rifles and hoversleds aren’t commonplace. Or if they are available, it’s only to people like large-scale peacekeeping organizations or well-funded criminal enclaves.

With how little focus the aspects of life in Acmetropolis that don’t involve super battles get we admittedly haven’t seen a lot of examples, but they’re still there. Like how antigravity technology’s used for snack carts in this show. For these kinds of characters to stand out still in this kind of setting, you should probably make an effort to show where the lines are drawn between common future-tech and super genius future-tech. But of course, they didn’t do that.

Massive plugs Optimatus’s gizmo into a slot in a computer bank because “That looks like a fit.” Would it even have mattered what it was plugged into? Probably not, with the shitty decision-making with future-tech I just got done whining about.

Right about then Daffy and Roadrunner come back after having given up on looking for the villains. The door refuses to let Daffy back in because it thinks he already is in, but opens up when Roadrunner lets it scan his face (good thing there are no other anthropomorphic animals on the entire city-planet).

But that’s another thing. As they go in we see these meters on the wall behind them that say “New Acme” and “Los Acme.” What the hell are those? Are those the names of places on Acmetropolis? If they are then once again, why in the flying fnck is every location the Acmetropolis reservoir/zoo/power plant/jail/mini mart?

As they head into the meeting room Zadavia pops onto a monitor and warns them to get out, but this seems genuine since right then the villains attack them. So what did Optimatus’s chip thingy do?

Since we’re farther into the episode now the villains start becoming less of a threat. Massive and Weather Vane take each other out with their respective blasts, giving Daffy and Roadrunner  the chance to escape. Never mind that their powers are teleporting and super-speed, meaning they should have the least trouble of running away from people of any of the Loonatics. In any event they give the villains the slip, and Roadrunner magically figures out that their buddies have been captured and taken to Mastermind’s old cell.

Chipped meeting table...

...intact meeting table?

Cut to the cell and it looks like Bugs and Wile E. were trying to disable the cell from the inside. Which is yet another stupid oversight for a super-genius, and doesn’t matter anyway because that’s when Daffy and Roadrunner show up. Bugs rather loudly tells Daffy to keep Sypher busy while Roadrunner tries to hack the security code to get the rest of them out. You make me glad I’m dead by the time all this happens if you’re the one I’d be counting on to save my life, Bugs.

Luckily for them Sypher’s a moron and falls for it, jumping around trying to catch Daffy like a clod without all the speed and agility he took from the zoo animals. And whatever he took it from has to touch him again to take it back, so did Mastermind make him climb back into the zoo cages and give back everything he stole?

Eventually Daffy slips up and Sypher absorbs his powers, and threatens to zap into the bubble and do the same to them. Luckily for them he’s still a moron and decides to wait on the easy pickings when Roadrunner reminds the villain he’s still there too. While he chases Roadrunner around, Wile E. realizes he knows the secret code to open the cell after all, and tells it to Daffy. The code? Mastermind’s old locker combination, which she shared with Wile E. back when they knew each other in college. The resolutions in this show are so dumb!

The other villains show up and the expected battle royale begins, but the Loonatics soon decide discretion’s the better part of valor. Both groups make it to the surface but then Optimatus appears in a menace-destroying rainbow beam just like Zadavia’s. He berates the villains for failing to do their job and creates another wormhole to send them back to the asteroid from the beginning (and when they come out the other end it’s the exact same footage as before).

Daffy jumps in after them and gets pulled along for the ride, trying to get his powers back from Sypher, but evidently grabbing his legs doesn’t count and Daffy doesn’t get his powers back yet.

Zadavia appears to the rest of the Loonatics in person then, and says Optimatus is her brother. They’re completely blown away by this, even though from everything we’ve seen they barely know anything about her, either.

That's how I look in reaction to anything this show wants me to believe.

Join us next time for part two!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Labyrinth of Time (Real Review)

When I’m asked what my favorite videogames are, the answers I give usually draw confusion even among people who play videogames themselves. My tastes tend to run to the obscure, for one reason or another, and to give one example, I’ve never really seen what the big deal was about the Super Mario series. One of my favorite, most oft-replayed games, is a case in point when it comes to obscurity.

You’re an officer worker living a dreary life represented by a monochrome filter. On the subway ride home one Friday night, you suddenly find yourself pulled out of your nice safe place in the space-time continuum by a strange man with wings. This proves to be Daedalus. Yes, that Daedalus, the legendary genius who created the Labyrinth of Crete to imprison the Minotaur. His old boss King Minos has indentured him again, taking advantage of his supernatural abilities as a ghost to create a new labyrinth. One that crosses time and space. With it, Minos can invade all eras and conquer them all at once. But not if you can find a way to destroy the labyrinth before he has the chance. With that, Daedalus vanishes.

As promised, the game does bridge various locations and eras from history, although some of them you’d only really know from the decorations on the walls and name on the text bar above your interface icons. You’ll be in a hotel one moment only to go through a door and find yourself on an abandoned fairground with a gigantic clown face complete with menacing laughter daring you to enter a hall of mirrors. Or in a 50’s diner one second and as soon as you try to get into the bathroom, suddenly in a hedge maze.

Yes, there are a lot of mazes in this game. It’s a labyrinth, there have to be. Let me hasten to assure anyone who hates mazes that it isn’t as bad as it probably sounds. In general, I don’t like mazes in adventure games myself, since I’m not a big fan of mapping. Particularly, because it usually involves tons of dying and reloading because of traps. The nice thing is, the game maps its play area for you as you explore it. There’s a fair bit of backtracking in this game, but as soon as you’ve solved a maze once, all you have to do is click the button on the bottom right of the screen to see how to do it again.

Even the part about lots of deaths to find where not to go is absent. This was around the time when the people who made point and click adventures started deciding, as a group, that it was rude to repeatedly murder the people who shelled out money to buy their games. And so, the long-running series that hadn’t been murdering their customers since the 80’s started not murdering them at all. There are two or three ways to make the game unwinnable, but in general if you seem to have hit a dead end, you just haven’t looked in the right corner or tried a key in the right lock yet.

Also, it's nice to see a game about saving all of creation that still has a touch of humor about itself.

The adventure game maxim of “save early, save often” to avoid getting killed or stuck is something of an awkward proposition in Labyrinth. Instead of doing what most games did and giving you a save game interface where you could type in a little description of the file to serve as an instant reminder of what you were doing at the time of the save, instead you get nine little check boxes. The only real way to have any idea of your progress is to open up a game and flick through your inventory and map to see how full they are.

While the game isn’t easy by any stretch either, the puzzles do make sense when you step back and think about them, and take the time to read the couple of notes and books there are to find. And ultimately winning the game does involve you finding a way to change history. Which it really should, you know? What’s the point of going back in time if you don’t get to dick around with it, after all?

Where the game really shines is in its soundtrack, however. Every track on it alternately made me feel like I was on a quest in a strange place and needed to do some investigating, or that I was alone in a place outside of space and time and that literally anything could happen if I wasn’t careful. I don’t mind saying that even though I enjoy this game plenty, the music is what really transforms it into something memorable.

But being memorable was the game’s biggest problem, in a way. It had the misfortune of hitting store shelves at about the same time as Myst and The 7th Guest. Those games hogged all the attention of the crowd that plays these kinds of games, leaving The Labyrinth of Time ignored. Just to pour salt in the wound, they always intended for it to go to sequel.

Still, guess we’ll always have…whatever that 50’s diner was called.

Oh, and in case you're stuck, here's a walkthrough.