New York Daily News Cover-Up At Roswell Review

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The following appeared in the NY Daily News on December 22, 1996. The citation is Li, Kenneth (1996-12-22). A CD-ROM(P) on grungy side. Daily News (New York); Business, p. 48.


Nearly every book and TV show that debuts turns up a few moments later on CD-ROM shelves as companies scramble to franchise even mildly successful titles as games.

The newest CDs, designed to complement the flagship product, often excel, not in any novel approach, but by further bringing to life your favorite author's book, or that TV program you just can't get enough of.

Two new titles do a fine job of doing just that and more.

"Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland" follows on the coattails of R.L. Stine's best-selling series and Fox TV's Saturday morning show.

The other, "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Cover-Up At Roswell," is inspired by Hanna Barbera's swashbuckling teen once with the tidy blond mane, but now reworked with a more contemporary mop of grunge cool mess.

Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland

Kids familiar with Stine's book, "One Day at Horrorland," will find DreamWorks Interactive's CD-ROM sequel, "Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland" a pleasing, if decidedly disturbing, disc.

You're led on a virtual leash through Horrorland, a macabre, rundown amusement park in the nether regions by a ditzy pre-pube named Lizzy. Again, she must rescue her brother and friend from the clutches of evil and return home.

Along the way, you get to meander sans Lizzy through a confusing map of the park, collect trinkets, tips and solve assorted puzzles like any other interactive adventure.

What sets this apart from its competition is the unexpectedly campy (Judy Tenuta plays a vampy diva who guides you along the way), but nevertheless spooky context in which the story is set.

You find out early in the game that Horrorland is the mad opus of a child-abused adult with a perverse penchant for chocolate. He demonstrates the latter in a tasteless QuickTime movie. It's lower-case sick, not enough to slap a parental advisory on it, but plenty to keep players glued like an episode of "Tales From the Darkside."

Although it might be a bit much for younger folks, it does provide for a convincing and scary underworld you can enjoy for hours.

One note of caution: be prepared for jumpy, staccato video and kung-fu movie-style mismatched dubbing voices if you plan on running the CD on anything short of a Pentium-class PC.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Cover-up At Roswell

Capitalizing on the renewed interest in all-things extraterrestrial (e.g. "Independence Day," "The X-Files," "Mars Attacks," etc.) is Virgin Sound and Vision's newest installment to Hanna Barbera's remodeled Jonny Quest saga.

In "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Cover-Up At Roswell" you do not play you at all. Rather, you maneuver the collected conscience of the young Quest and his two spunky mates: the tough and savvy redhead, Jessie Bannon, and Quest's adopted, omniscient Indian brother and yoga master, Hadji Singh, around the globe.

There, you are set off to investigate a mysterious malfunction in the system computer at Quest's compound a mixup that somehow sends UFO projectiles raining on five locations around the globe, including New York.

The title then gives you a rough view of our city, post projectile pounding. The "Escape From New York"-like setting is teeming with gangs of wilding youths and set in a bleak, roach-infested urban blight of a stereotype most New Yorkers might find grossly exaggerated, maybe even insulting.

In this and other landscapes, you are armed with various high-tech gadgets, including an electronic tracker unit, to locate the projectiles; a homing beacon, to find the illustrious dad, Dr. Benton Quest, at any moment; and a global positioning system unit to find your own exact location.

With these, you navigate the somewhat vexing maze to, again, solve puzzles, take in the scenery and basically nose around until you reach the end.

Details like having to use the GPS unit to locate yourself in the game are unusual and bring a level of sophistication to the title that many CD-ROMs don't have. The downside is that some young kids may find "Quest" too complicated, but it's likely to be a big draw for teens.

Included in the game is a free pair of 3-D glasses that enhance the effect of certain scenes. The glasses are great. In fact, my hands even looked more 3-D with the specs on.

That made for a great CD-ROM experience except for the massive headache those glasses gave me. Now I'm on a "Quest" for two Advils.


Goosebumps (Escape from Horrorland)

3 Stars (out of four)

Windows 95

Dreamworks Interactive $ 44.95


Jonny Quest

2 Stars

Windows, Macintosh

Virgin Sound and Vision $ 34.95


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