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Ocean Depths - The Atari Times

Ocean Depths


Here, fishie fishie...
by David Sherwin

May 18, 2004
In what must surely be a first for the Jaguar, StarCat Developments has released Ocean Depths (OD), a non-game "meditation program", for the CD add-on. A quasi-interactive slideshow of oceanscapes, OD is best characterized as the Jag's first attempt at "ambient entertainment," and is probably best for those who were enthralled by The Big Blue and can't get enough of the Discovery Channel. Fortunately, OD also contains a demo of the highly anticipated graphic horror adventure, Eerievale, and a finished minigame (JagMind) both of which make the purchase of this package justifiable to the average gamer.

OD doesn't really have any "gameplay." I simply loaded the CD (bypass cartridge not required), selected the OD program, and let the thing run. After a brief loading time, the first of OD's entrancing water scenes popped up on my screen. These static pictures are accompanied by rather distracting bursts of distortion, which are vaguely representative of the sound of waves breaking on a beach. Sound effects are always welcome, but I found myself searching for a "volume off" feature after being inundated with the sound of crashing waves for a solid five minutes. How 'bout replacing the sound of those breakers with Brian Eno's Deep Blue Day, Lars?

The ocean scenes themselves are quite pleasant, although they're clearly original works of computer art and not meant to be taken as representative of actual marine biology. Some of the screens do, as a result, have a tendency toward preciousness (how many leaping dolphins can one stomach?), but these are, in general, aberrations to the largely decent norm. I also note that many of the screens are quite monochromatic, but suppose that this is supposed to be representative of the underwater colour spectrum. All those blues and greens sure are soothing, in any case.

Those who have their fill of relaxation are encouraged to try a demonstration of the upcoming graphic/horror adventure Eerievale, which is included as a bonus on the disc.

Movement is limited to the environs of a creepy-looking house, and you won't be able to do much, but it does look great, and the player interface works well. Finally, after all these years, it looks like we'll have a game that will rival Myst in its graphic layout, but will actually be playable, too! I'm sure that StarCat will have another hit on its hands when this thriller is released.

Jagmind receives last billing on the Ocean Depths case, but I actually found this to be the most entertaining program in the entire package. A port of the popular boardgame Mastermind and its variants, Jagmind doesn't present anything new to the gaming world, but it sure is fun. It's easy to lose an hour or so attempting to solve the computer's "code", and I like the ominous gaming soundtrack. It certainly would sound nice in Eerievale...

In OD, Starcat Developments have given Jaguar owners everywhere a trio of tantalizing programs that offers something for everyone. At 20 Euros (shipping included), it's priced within most gamers' budgets, and is a considerable value for the money spent. OD is also the first Jaguar program to include mouse compatibility (Jaguar mouse sold separately), and is worth a look for that interesting feature alone. Clearly, StarCat remains committed to the cutting edge of Jaguar development, and OD provides strong proof that its forthcoming Jaguar products will be well worth the wait.



The DVD case.
It's either Flipper or Darwin (from SeaQuest)
The Eerievale demo.
JaguarMind is like Mastermind.
Ocean Depths
System: Jaguar
Publisher: Starcat Developments
Genre: Simulation
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: %
Control Score: 80%

Final Score: 73%

More Ocean Depths Reviews

Jaguar Ocean Depths by JagChris, 55%



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