Few will argue the need for fun in education. Making dry, boring topics more interesting will increase the comprehension and the number of followers. Tivola International has brought us Bioscopia, a game by Heureka-Klett of Germany. This is first an adventure game, and secondly a lesson in the biological sciences. Or maybe it’s the other way around, but it surely is a fun game. Chemicus and Physicus are other edu-tainment games available in the USA by this company. We can only hope that their other games will also be translated and distributed in America.
We begin the story as a young female scientist is dropped off at a remote enclave where there seem to be no living inhabitants. She is immediately overcome with an illness, and kept hostage by robots. Our mission is to determine the cause, find a cure for her, and rescue her as well. The station is a large round enclosure, with different segments for each of the biological sub-specialties. We will travel through Zoology, Genetics, Biology, and Botany to find clues, solve puzzles, and seek answers.
The game is a 2D slideshow, point and click, first person adventure game, where you will use the inventory to collect items needed throughout the game. Inventory management is a bit awkward at times, as it can be hard to hold onto an item for use when removing it from the tube-like drawer at the bottom of the screen. There is also, in many of the rooms, a “brain machine” where you may seek answers to the questions asked of you, as well as related information in that branch of science. This is done both visually and with a narrative, and presented in small bites for easier comprehension. A passcard is used to enter each room, but it needs to be “charged.” This is accomplished by answering questions on the appropriate specialty at machines that will grant to the bearer, either three or five entries to other rooms. Because you must travel from one room to another, you must keep your passcard charged, though the machines to do so are present in many of the rooms.
Puzzles are not generally too difficult, though there is one where you need to recognize animal sounds, voice recognition scans, and a corresponding picture of the animal. There is a maze of sorts, going through the ventilating ducts in one area, but it isn’t too long or too difficult. Most of the puzzles are logical, and clues are given often, with the odd red herring or two. There is a fair amount of back-tracking from one area to another, but because of the layout as segments of a circle, the distances are short.
The navigation leaves a bit to be desired. Finding the “hot-spot” where you can move can cause a bit of hair-pulling. There are three or four places where it is necessary to spend several minutes locating the correct place to stand to aim for something you would like to pick up. In one room, navigating to the rear is very difficult to maneuver, yet necessary. There is a walkthrough for the game that loads on your PC, that can be printed off to assist, though it is not a thorough one; when it comes to finding specifics this one isn’t very much help.
The graphics are realistic, but not great, and there are places where a “hot spot” could be better high-lighted against its surroundings. The screen usage could be better: there is a window for the game imposed on a largely black screen, with the inventory drawer available at all times below, and a CD picture above for menu access. There are a few cut scenes, which seem blurry compared to the game graphics. The voices are average or better, and the narrative voices are well done. There isn’t much music, but it is good for the areas it is used in. Sound effects are very well handled throughout.
To summarize – this is a good game, and while it probably won’t make your top ten, it still is worth playing for the unique use of educational environments in a game setting. It was fairly short, less than ten hours for an experienced adventure gamer, but there were no boring or repetitious areas. The game was paced very well.
Pentium II 233 MHz
64 MB RAM
120 MB free hard disk space
SVGA graphics card, 32 bit
8 x speed CD-ROM drive
Mac OS 8.1 or higher
233MHz Power PC
64 MB RAM
120 free hard disk space
32,768 colors graphics card
8 x speed CD-ROM drive
Many thanks to the editing expertise of Mystic Rainbow and Bacardi Jim.
Mystery Manor Home