Reviewed: July 12, 2010
Released: July 6, 2010
App Store Price: $4.99
Anyone familiar with the world of PC adventure titles has heard of Benoit Sokal or played one of his games and didnít even know it. I originally became aware of Benoit Sokalís works in 2002 with the release of Syberia, a title that I hold in high regard, and have played every title he has done since. Paradise, released in 2006, was considered to be B. Sokalís masterpiece, was another favorite of mine. |
In 2008 Paradise was re-released under a new name, The Last King of Africa, on the Nintendo DS a suitable place for the title to find a new home. Now, two years later, The Last King of Africa surfaces again, this time on the iPhone, which Iím reviewing here today. The differences however between the PC version and the iPhone release were obviously noticeable for me and probably anyone else who played the original version.
The biggest factor is that The Last King of Africa is to be released in episodic bites that last about 3 hours each. The first chapter entitled Madargane kicks off the story with a short cutscene featuring King Rodon, the ruler of the fictional African country of Maurania and the main character Ann Smith whose plane is shot down by rebel forces. Ann was on her way to meet with her father after many years of being separated. The plane crash renders Ann without her memory and an unusual scar upon her chest.
The on screen interface in The Last King of Africa is a bit distracting at best. Most adventure titles, even those on the iPhone, are hidden out of the way or very minimal at most. The menu and item interface takes up about an 8th of the entire left side of the screen, which is kind of substantial on the iPhoneís small screen.
As we all know adventure titles suffer from the unfortunate ďpixel-huntingĒ curse, especially in the 90ís. This hasnít changed even today. The Last King suffers from the same problem and in certain areas it is even harder to find these hot spots thanks to the low lighting in the game. After a little searching I was able to solve the one particular puzzle that was giving me grief due to this problem. There is also a sensitivity issue that proved slightly troublesome during the one slider puzzle. Though after a couple run through, I found this issue to be sporadic at best in the current release version. Perhaps they will release an updated version to handle the sensitivity issue.
While it might seem that I am trying too hard to find the faults in The Last King of Africa, it is far from the truth. There are several things that I really like about the title. I do like the variety of the puzzles and each of them are challenging without being overly hard. Just good old-fashioned puzzles that are almost spot on to the PC version. The small glimpse into this adventure presented the same events as the PC though slightly altered in some area due to the change in the inventory system.
Instead of the inventory bag setup prominently as in most adventure titles, The Last King of Africa features a system that relies on having a few items in your possession at a time. It almost seemed as you only could pick up things that pertained to the task at hand. There was one instance where you didnít get film until much later in the game instead of almost immediately. This works out well though for the sake of the iPhoneís display.
Speaking of the display, The Last King of Africa looks great on the iPhone. Paradise was beautiful on the PC several years ago and this new version carries that same excellence. The environments are well designed and sharp as ever with only minor hindrances to the actual gameplay such as shadowing. The cutscenes dotted throughout are the best part of the title and I loved the animation on the leopard. The most noticeable change to the title is that it is played from a first-person perspective instead of the third-person angle that the PC version used. This is not really an unexpected change though due to the restrictions portable devices come across.
The sound only adds to solidify the realistic visuals and animations. The score for the first chapter feature only two main pieces that I could hear of and were pretty good and not annoying after a while. There is no spoken dialogue available besides the cutscenes, but The Last King of Africa functions just fine without it. The only thing that I wasnít really fond of was the little chime you hear every time you pick up an emerald piece of King Rodonís treasure.
Value wise, you only get about a three-hour glimpse of The Last King of Africa for the $3 dollar price tag. This isnít bad all things considered but one has to wonder how the remainder of the title will be released. At three dollars a pop the overall experience might get a bit pricey.
The developers did add a hidden object element that does feel a bit out of place in an already established title. Scattered all over creation are the various sized emerald pieces that I mentioned above. After two passes I was only able to walk away with 88 of the 90 emeralds, which I though was pretty impressive considering some of them are no bigger than a pixel on the screen. Better bring that magnifying glass, detective.
I had high hopes going into this review once I learned that it was a remake of a great title that I played years ago reborn. What I felt after playing The Last King of Africa was a touch of nostalgia mixed with a feeling of frustration and confusion at some of the titlesí shortcomings. Is Paradise welcome in its new home? Personally, I have to say yes it is...with a bit of tweaking here and there. The Last King of Africa definitely has the opportunity to bring adventure to a while new generation of mobile gamers.