More Joy From Endless Ocean 2

Endless Ocean 2 is the game that just keeps giving for the fan of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in games. Here's how I called it a mere 70 hours in. Put another twenty or so hours into it and there's still plenty of new stuff to see.
But for my purposes the most important new discoveries in this game are the Cambrian predator/poster organism Anomalocaris, pictured above and the Ordovician giant nautiloid Cameroceras. Both of these creatures can be found bobbing around and require a double take before realising that they are creatures out of time. Prehistoric marine life often doesn't get much of a look-in in many video games as most games are terrestrially based. I'm chuffed to bits that Arika really ran with their imagination in this game and found a way to sneak these two prehistoric animals in as cryptids.


After what seems like forever, I finally got around to finishing Syberia. It may seem stupid for a game that's nine years old but I'm gonna put a SPOILER warning up here. If you like Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in games then Syberia is definitely worth a play. Then come back here. Okay? I don't know if it is just because I'm a jaded old gamer or because I haven't played a solid point and click adventure for a longtime but I really enjoyed Syberia. Probably more so than normal because it's a dinosaurs game that isn't a Pokemon clone or FPS. It's pretty standard fare really. Point here, click there, pick up this item, give it to this person who'll give you another item to give to someone else. It isn't free of the frustrations particular to the genre and if you played it like I did over a space of months rather than hours you'll need a number of trips to the excellent Universal Hint System for some of the (subtle) clues you end up forgetting between plays.
The game takes you on a fantastical journey in the shoes of lawyer Kate Walker, sent to a weird French town to settle the estate of an eccentric woman whose automaton factory is due to be bought by a big toy company. Unsurprisingly, things don't go as planned and Kate ends up tracking down the deceased woman's brother, a curious savant obsessed with mammoths. The game takes you to some really amazing places and I found myself forgiving the linear nature of the game (item A to place B to get to item C etc..) because the environments you visit are so fantastic, the writing and characters are compelling and solving the puzzles to progress are normally just the right side of head scratching. There's also a snazzy little gimmick in that Kate has a mobile phone and occasionally gets phoned by her boyfriend, mother and best friend. LIKE HOW MOBILE PHONES WORK IN THE REAL WORLD! The phone does a good job of giving an insight into who Kate is beyond the person you mercilessly puppet about the place as well as being key to progressing at times. I've said too much already just go and grab it. Sure, it's dated but it's less than a tenner on Steam,just under 12 for both Syberia and Syberia 2. As a fan of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in games I really like that this game is palaeontologically themed rather than just a palaeontologically skinned generic game as so many DiGs are. Mammoths, biology and palaeontology run through the game and kept me playing. It's just refreshing still, even from a nine year old game, to see that the Syberia team actually did a bit of research rather than just pick up My First Book Of Scary Dinosaurs, bung in the usual suspects and then copy and paste the "facts" in the ubiquitous dinopedia. Anywho, down to the regular bitness...
Dinosauriness: Remember that spoiler warning? Well you don't actually see any real virtual mammoths in the game, the three screenshots in this post is as near as you get. Early on you find a prehistoric mammoth doll and make a mammoth rubbing (pictured above). At the Barrockstadt University the skeletons of Megaloceros, Mammuthus primigenius, Platybelodon and some other extinct mammals that are hard to identify (speculatively equid and elephantid) can be found. In addition to the amazing statues you can see above there's a pair of sabre-toothed tiger statues although I wouldn't like to guess exactly which 'sabre-toothed tigers' they are (sabre-toothery in mammals is an amazing example of convergent evolution).

Scientific Accuracy: So far so good. You don't see any real mammoths although the game foreshadows an encounter in Syberia 2, apparently there's a cryptic population of mammoths possibly alive on an island called Syberia. More outlandish is the automatons, wind up robots, you meet throughout the game. But this is Dinosaurs in Games NOT Robots in Games.
Buzz Bonus: There's so much to say, there's a sequel that's on my to play list and the sort of announcement of a third one to be released for PS3 and PC with the demand that Sony stop their Syberia PS2 denial.. This game was also released on the DS in 2008 and was the version I originally wanted to pick up but the handful of sites that reviewed it all recommended picking up the 2002 PC version. My last buzz bonus is that in the Barrockstadt University library you can see Aristotle's principle 'Natura non facit saltus'- nature does not make leaps a famous proposition invoked by a number of the brightest luminaries in science throughout time and just one of the biology geek references that endeared this game to me even more.

Dino Strike and Zoo Entertainment

Sad news about Zoo Entertainment. Let's hope it doesn't affect our preorder of Dino Strike which has already been delayed by a bit. I was expecting it sometime next week. Theit website still ists it as avialable "February 2011".

Ahh, gotta love game companies and their bad websites...