Visit Atarimax Store

Free-Net Logo
The Atari SIG Historical Archive
Created and hosted by:

Article #58 (79 is last):
From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX: Dracula the Undead
Reply-To: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Posted-By: xx004 (aa399 - Len Stys)
Date: Thu Dec 24 13:57:02 1992

1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? No

    If Bram Stoker were alive today, would he have written "Dracula" as an
interactive novel? Atari thinks so, and their reinterpretation of the horror
classic is DRACULA THE UNDEAD, a gothic adventure for the Lynx. You play the
part of Jonathan Harker, who is visiting Count Dracula to conduct real estate
business. As the story begins, Jonathan has awakened from an overnight sleep
at Dracula's castle, ready to work. However, the Count has affairs to attend
to, and will be gone until the evening. With a day of waiting and no Lynx to
spend the time, Jonathan decides to explore Dracula's quaint home. In your
travels, you will discover many unusual secrets; your goal is to escape with
evidence proving that Dracula is a danger to mortal men and possibly destroy
the Count himself. Of course, Castle Dracula is filled with danger, not the
least of which is its tall, imposing owner...

    As the plot summary attests, DRACULA THE UNDEAD is not your ordinary video
game. If nothing else, its gets credit for diverting from the usual sword-and-
sorcery fantasy scenario. Game control is similar to the method in computer
adventures such as KING'S QUEST and THE ADVENTURES OF MONKEY ISLAND: each room
is a graphic image, and you use the joypad to move Jonathan around and explore
it. Complex actions are done by choosing verbs and nouns from a scrolling
window to form commands like "examine drawers", "open door", or "use lamp with
tinderbox". Room features that you can interact with are indicated by having
its name appear on-screen when you pass by it. You can also talk to people by
selecting your dialogue from a number of sentences.

    The actual adventure is a fairly challenging affair, though a little bit
linear. Many times, there are several possible goals, but usually only one
will lead to progress which advances the plot. Puzzles are not easily solved,
and often nothing can be done without a certain item that you haven't found
yet. Hints are few, coming from Jonathan's musings and an occasional
narrative from Bram Stoker, and red herrings abound. It is also possible to
finish the game without winning it, since Jonathan must make enough notes to
build a convincing case against Dracula. The game assumes a little knowledge
of vampire lore, but nothing too complex, while dialogue and descriptions are
brief but appropriate.

    There are only two weak points with DRACULA THE UNDEAD, the first being
the control scheme. Each room is shown from a single viewpoint, with the LCD
screen being one of the walls, so some features are unseen, either because
they're off-camera or part of the screen "wall". Since their names appear when
Jonathan approaches them, it's only a minor nit, and enforces the need to
explore rooms thoroughly. The greater flaw is the lack of a save-game feature.
You must finish this game in one sitting; the game disables the automatic
shut-off feature of the Lynx, but if you haven't finished this title already,
it's best to play with an AC adaptor.

    DRACULA THE UNDEAD is drawn in shades of brown and tan, using impressive
"brownscaled" images that look almost like digitized aged photographs. Most of
the animation comes from Jonathan walking around, with a little gratuitous
scaling as he moves towards and away from the player. The game is sprinkled
with animated scenes, such as the conversations with other characters, and
Bram Stoker flipping pages while reading the latest plot twist.

    Sound effects are a respectable mix of machine-generated and digitized
effects, such as creaking doors and the howl of wolves, but they are few and
far between. Instead, the game's most consistent sound is a moody background
tune that plays continuously. It can be disabled with the Option 2 button if
it proves wearisome, however.

    DRACULA THE UNDEAD offers traditional adventuring fare with an unusual
premise, with enough challenge and appeal to satisfy most adventurers. The
inability to save a game in progress hurts, but dedicated players who are
willing to live with this flaw are encouraged to give the Count a visit.

                GAMEPLAY:        7.5
                GRAPHICS:        9
                SOUND:           6
                OVERALL:         7.5

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.

Visit Atarimax Store