Space Bar Preview

Rocket Science prepares to release a strange new graphic adventure that boldly goes where several have fallen before

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The Space Bar (get it? eh? eh?) is gonna be a weird one. Created by Steve Meretzky (responsible for such classic text adventure games as Planetfall, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Zork Zero and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and featuring the art direction of Ron Cobb (Concept Designer for Aliens and The Abyss, and - most appropriately - responsible for the aliens in the Star Wars Mos Eisley Cantina scene), The Space Bar is a kinda-noir, kinda-goofy tale of a human gumshoe tracking a ruthless alien criminal on a world (Armpit VI) where humans are a despised minority.

Experiencing the game first-person as pseudosleuth Alias Node, players scour a seedy spaceport bar (The Thirsty Tentacle) and interact with 60+ characters of some 17 alien races while attempting to locate the extraterrestrial evildoer. The humor in the game is along the Hitchhikers' Guide lines, if a tad more juvenile, and has some some absolutely hysterical moments - one particular conversation is with a dim-witted, fanged grunt of an alien who makes Douglas Adams' "Shouting Officer" Vogon look like Carl Sagan in comparison.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of The Space Bar lies in the method by which players determine each alien's secrets - telepathy. In short, each of the alien's lives are viewed by the player, through the alien's eyes in a series of telepathic flashbacks, complete with alien perspective touches such as bug-eyed segmented vision, bat-like sonar, etc. Of course, the nifty gadget which allows the player to have this ability takes a little while to warm up, so the only way to experience these first-person - or whatever - recollections is to engage the creature's attention and keep it talking idle bar-chat until the telepathic mechanism kicks in, whereupon flashbacks entail mini games-within-a-game in their own right.

Exploration of The Thirsty Tentacle and its unique sub-areas (the Earth-themed Winky Howdy's Cowboy Saloon comes readily to mind) is achieved via smooth 360-degree panoramic views, and the various & motley characters. one enounters are mapped, modelled bodies such as those found in The Dark Eye or Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Harbinger, albeit more detailed and, on the whole, with more legs.

Meretzky fans will find Space Bar's humor to be quick and clever, offering the same sort of light laughs as Hodge & Podge (Boffo's other big release), and sci-fi fans will probably find enough inside jokes to keep them entertained as well. In the end, while it's still just another entry in a long line of graphic adventures, Space Bar looks to have enough diversity and depth to give an edge over the competition.

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