RETURN TO RINGWORLD

YOU ARE A FUGITIVE FROM EVERY SOCIETY IN KNOWN SPACE!
Join a desperate crew of renegades in their fantastic journey back to Ringworld. Bountiful in mystery and rich in hostile beauty, Ringworld holds the secret to the greatest mystery in all of Known Space.

BECOME ANY ONE OF THREE FUGITIVES
Choose to play Quinn, a mercenary human, whose unrivaled thirst for information may lead him to riches or destruction. Become Miranda, a human engineer, who prides herself on her efficient practices and independent nature. Or select Seeker-of-Vengeance, a member of the cat-like Kzin species and captain of the ship.

EVADE POWERFUL ALIEN ENEMIES AND BATTLE AN OMNIPRESENT POLICE FORCE
The Kzin race calls you enemy! The Puppeteers were to be annihilated - their entire race destroyed - but their plans for genocide were thwarted by you and your comrades. Now the Puppeteers are safe, but your troubles have just begun.

EXPLORE THE FAR REACHES OF KNOWN SPACE
Journey through the catacombs of Ringworld's Flup Tube system. Descend the Spill Mountains in a hot-air balloon. Escape the Spaceport Ledge in a transport vehicle you've created. Ringworld is a vast land of beauty and excitement, but it is also the hiding place of a dramatic technology that may lay waste to all of Known Space!

FEATURES
  • Command arcade-like flight simulators.
  • Explore countless virtual environments, including Spaceport Ledge, Spill Mountains, Ring Wall and the denizens of the Vampires.
  • Engage in multi-directional conversation. Digitized speech supports realistic communication.
  • Experience Known Space through realistic VGA-rendered, 3-D cinematic graphics, and full-motion animated effects.
~ from the back of the box

Despite a decent enough premise and some imaginative locations, the non-interactive nature of the first Ringworld game made me hope the passive/interactive scale would be more balanced for the sequel. It sounds like Tsunami Media took criticisms to heart in our Return to Ringworld as there is a lot more game here. This time, however, the scale has tipped too far to the other side.

After the events of the first game, Quinn, Seeker and Miranda are fugitives from those they saved and those they fought. Man, the Puppeteers and the Kzin all want their heads so our heroes head to Ringworld to hide out and hunt for evidence to clear their name. It's not long before another conspiracy is uncovered - complete with a maniacal villain with dubious motivation - that threatens the universe once more.

The overarching plot is pretty basic stuff. The kind of story you'd find in cheap Star Wars knock off. If anything is going to keep you playing, it would be the smaller plotlines that take place in the remote villages found on the ring's surface. As before, the locations are inviting and steeped in a lore that feels incongruous with the futuristic sci-fi stuff surrounding it. This time, you'll be spending a lot more time within them because not only are they stuffed with the same long scenes of dialogue as before, but also a mass load of screens to explore. This is Tsunami's attempt at adding gameplay, and it's not entirely successful.

There are more puzzles, a lot of which are actually fun to solve, but there are also mazes. Large, boring mazes - plural. You'll first encounter this on a service platform on the outside of the ring where a massive area can be explored. Here, you'll traipse the vast expanse screen-by-screen until you find an unnecessarily large number of items - 9 in total. Some are seemingly placed in a random spot devoid of any scenery while others require a quick manipulation of the environment to add to your inventory. Cut out the superfluous dead and empty screens (I estimate about 90% in this instance) and it would be far more bearable. 
 
Later on, you have access to a shuttle to take you down a long service tunnel. This will take you to some elevators and one of them will provide access to the ring's surface. You can walk there in what feels like hundreds of screens, but the shuttle is much faster. Even so, it can still take a few minutes between stops - more if you overhit your mark and brake at the wrong time. 
 
Even the more traditional maze of service tunnels that you'll eventually come across is much larger that it needs it be. This area contains some vampires to vanquish, but with 18 to find the whole sequence took me fifteen minutes to solve, and that was with a walkthrough. It was so tedious that I had to give up playing for a while just to reinvigorate my brain.

The more traditional puzzles are much better and do improve on its predecessor. A moment requiring an inventive use of a gas torch and a glass dome harks back to my Year 7 science classes while the earlier use of super powerful electromagnet is just as inspired. Some of them are actually very entertaining to solve, proving that there is a lot of talent involved behind the scenes. I just wish there was more opportunities to show them off.

The visuals and game mechanics are mostly the same as before. You may have noticed that your inventory is permanently displayed on the lower edge of the screen, leaving a space free in the verb menu. Its spot has been taken over by the ability to switch between characters, Day of the Tentacle style, though I wouldn't say it's been implemented as well. You can play as all three members of your crew, each playing slightly differently. Quinn is your go-to protagonist, resourceful and good in scrapes. Seeker is strong with a violent streak and Miranda spends most of the game in a completely different location. This feels like a response to the first game, where other characters will often complete tasks for you. Now their character may complete the task, but you are still playing the game - no matter how asinine that task may be. Even so, I would've like this mechanic be put to be better use.

So, despite wanting to really get into the Ringworld games, their design does everything they can to put me off. It's imaginative in its art, derivative in its story and haphazard in its puzzle design. When either game is good, they stand up to some of the best in the genre - or at least close to it. It's just a shame that there's a whole load of tiresome bloat surrounding the good bits. I give Return to Ringworld the same half-hearted recommendation as the first, but for opposite reasons.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses ScummVM to allow the game to run on modern PCs. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 135 Mb.  Install Size: 363 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Return to Ringworld is © Tsunami Media
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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