In an attempt to break into the comic adventure game circuit, where titles like Virgin's Toonstruck and Sierra's Leisure Suit Larry series receive top billing, Broderbund has stepped up to the mic with Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge. This collaboration with Colossal Pictures delivers its mature themes, high-brow remarks, and twisted puzzles with the finesse of a seasoned Las Vegas lounge comedian. And their routine deserves a loud round of applause.
With opening credits and a theme song, Koala Lumpur begins like a Saturday morning cartoon show - not too surprising, since the characters were originally created by Colossal Pictures as a cartoon series. Koala Lumpur is the wacky story of Zen Master Koala Lumpur, a mystic, enlightenment-seeking marsupial, and his faithful canine companion, Dr. Dingo Tu-Far, who are on a mission to locate pieces of a scroll in order to save the cartoon world from the Comedy Apocalypse. The pair travels to strange places - including Dingo's brain - searching for scroll pieces and solving a variety of puzzles along the way. And although a few of the puzzles take more than a little patience - like maneuvering through the corridor while avoiding a force field and exploring a maze of tunnels - most are easily solved and fit well into the story. As a bonus, a few of the puzzles could even be considered educational - like learning the names of obscure phobias and even a foreign language - although the ability to speak Dog may not help you in your next job interview. (Then again, it may not hurt either.)
While the plot and characters are highly entertaining, the interface makes Koala Lumpur a unique and fun experience. Instead of the typical point-and-click cursor setup where the player uses the mouse to search the screen for active areas and objects, in this game the mouse turns into an animated fly which is also a character in the game. As Koala's familiar, Fly buzzes around the colorful and highly detailed screens searching for clues to puzzles and picking up objects, including Dingo's brain matter. In addition to leading Koala and Dr. Dingo around, Fly can leave and explore the other areas without his pals.
Koala Lumpur, a silly and twisted tongue-in-cheek ride until the very last screen, is well worth your time. It proves that Broderbund can go beyond educational and wholesome entertainment titles and, more importantly, that they have a sense of humor. They pull the trick off so well that it's hard to believe that Koala Lumpur is the company's first attempt at a comedy title. The previously conservative Myst makers show that they can loosen their ties, throw back a few drinks, and deliver a silly comic adventure just like the pros. Let's hope that they hear the cheers and answer the crowd's applause with an encore.