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Eric Heimburg
Like the ninth Beatle

Treasures of the Deep

A 3D-rendered breakout game, set under the sea. Relatively fast-paced, but it's still breakout.


Overview

This is a Breakout game on an isometric board. It's rendered in 3D but gameplay is basically 2D. You play on a square field, bouncing the ball towards various things which get blown up by the ball. Sometimes the things move. Often things are stacked on other things, and when you blow up the bottom thing, the other things fall down so that they too can get blown up.

There are lots and lots of power ups, but it's hard to tell one from another.

One unusual feature is that it comes with a screen saver. It is never mentioned in game or on the download pages, so it's unclear how you are supposed to find it, but perhaps it tells you how to get to it when you beat the game. When I ran the screen saver, it started in full-screen mode and showed the main menu background with the words "You must complete the game first to get access to this beautiful screen saver." This isn't an upsell feature, since they never mention it. I think it would have worked a lot better if it was made explicit, such as, "Beat the game and unlock a cool screen saver!" (See screenshot below.)

Fun Factor: Pretty boring. But I never thought Breakout was that great anyway.
Pacing: This game seems pretty well-paced for a Breakout game; lots of stuff happens even at the beginning. However, it's still a boring old Breakout game.
Story: None

User Interface

A fairly boring menu system is made a bit more lively by fish that swim by. For some reason it's rare to find a 3D casual game with menus that are really exciting or attractive. The menus here are subdued and no-frills, but at least they're not static. However, the game does commit the worst 3D UI sin of all, the one which automatically means I personally will never buy your game: the game doesn't recognize when the left and right mouse buttons are swapped ("left handed user" mode in the control panel). That happens because it uses DirectInput to read mouse input, and the programmers didn't think to add the one line of code necessary to see if the buttons are swapped. Arg.

Menus: Lively and reasonable. One complaint: The button click sound is way too loud (think the Doom machine-click GUI sound).
Pre-Game Instructions: You are immediately thrown into the game. A little pop-up window is displayed that explains the premise (see screenshot), and that's it.
In-Game Tutorial: None
Other Instructions: There's a "Help" button accessible from the main menu. This brings up a lengthy set of instructions, including about 20 pages of power-up descriptions. Tedious, and not really useful in helping you differentiate power-ups while playing. However, most players will never see this, so I guess it's sort of moot.
Save Game: Yes, partial (saves what level you are on, but not your progress on that level)
Player Profiles: Typical
Alt+Tab Works: Yes. However, the game always minimizes itself when not the active application, which can be very annoying if you're trying to play in windowed mode.
Alt+Enter Works: No. Doesn't work at all.
Lefty Swapped Mouse: No.

Art

Welcome to the Giant Aquarium Full of Collapsing Bricks. It's not bad -- the plants are especially attractive. The fish are very serviceable, though they don't make you go 'wow'.

Backgrounds: The background scenes for Treasures of the Deep are fish-tank like undersea scenes. You're apparently exploring the bottom of the ocean (or perhaps a large aquarium, who can tell?). The fish look nice enough. I only managed to get to the second background scene (you stay on the same scene for several levels). The second scene was not much different from the first (see screenshots).
Game Pieces: Simple polygonal objects. Many of them look like cardboard boxes that are inexplicably underwater. That doesn't mean they look bad -- but they do seem out of place.
Fonts: Stock, somewhat-hard-to-read 'whimsical' fonts.

Sound

Music: The initial track is soothing, low-key, and fairly appropriate for underwater gaming. I don't know if there's more.
Sound Effects: In-game, these are fine. No stand outs either way. For the menus, the button-click sound seemed out of place and inappropriately loud.

Technical

Resolution (Windowed): 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768. 16-bit or 32-bit color. Game defaulted to 800x600 even though my screen res is higher.
Resolution (Full Screen): Same as windowed.
Quality Settings: 'Low', 'Medium', 'High'. Defaulted to 'High' on my machine. Visual difference between Low and High seemed to be the removal of all fish from gameplay (but not from main menu). Check out the screen shots for an example.
Cursors: Specialized cursor at all times
Engine: Unknown. Uses a .PAK file for game resources. Doesn't look to use a 3rd-party sound engine. Some clues point to this being an Ogre 3D application, but I'm not positive.
Size Downloaded: 12.6 MB
Size Installed: 27.6MB
System Requirements: Windows: 98SE, ME, 2000, XP
500Mhz processor
64MB RAM
16MB Video Ram
Direct3D 7.0 or later
Sound Blaster-compatible Sound Card
DirectX 7.0 or later

Miscellaneous

Developer: Forge of Games
Distributer: Oberon Games (not just distributed; actually published)
Credits In Game: Yes

Links and Reviews

Credits

Screen Shots


Title Screen. It doesn't get any blander than this! Actually, there's a couple of bland screens that show up before this one: the 'Forge of Games' logo and the 'Oberon Games' logo, each on a black background, show up separately for a few seconds each before being replaced by this screen. Since there's no loading bar, I can't tell if any loading is happening during those earlier screens. I'd have to guess not. On another note: the fonts really are a bit blurry on the startup screen. (This is a low-res JPG which exacerbates the problem, though.)


Main Menu


Options Screen


The startup instructions hint. This is the only instruction that the game shows to you automatically, though there's a long and tedious manual accessible from the main menu.


One of the seventy billion pages of text that shows up if you hit 'Help' from the main menu


Gameplay. The red arrows are a power-up falling towards the bottom of the screen.


More gameplay. This is still the 'world 1' background art, which lasts for five (I think) levels. Note in this shot, the paddle is exploding. I missed the ball. That other thing on the screen LOOKS like a ball, but actually it's an opal or something worth points.


Finally we've reached 'world 2' background art. It's ... well, it's technically new background art.


This is the same scene but with Detail set to 'Low.' Notice the total change of plant life, and the complete lack of fish.


The screen saver. I hadn't beaten the game, so maybe it looks more interesting later on.


A crash that happened one time when I quit the game. I couldn't reproduce it. Even though this crash happened on shutdown, it did slightly hurt my opinion of the game's stability. I wonder what a normal user would think of a shutdown crash. Would that be a deal-breaker?


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