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Product: Pandora's Box
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/games/pandorasbox/
Estimated Street Price: $ 19.95
Review By: Dennis Gregory
Thanks to Microsoft for supplying the screenshots.

Introduction

Like Tetris? With Tetris being probably the first successful computer game, the creator of Tetris struts his stuff in the new game developed by Microsoft and Alexey Pajitnov the creator of Tetris. With 350 puzzles that range from easy to hard you'll never get bored. Its guaranteed to make you think!

Microsoft has changed relatively simple games into an exciting storyline including a trip around the world showing you different works of art of different cultures around the world. The puzzles are all closely related in each city, so if you like seeing Egyptian people, pharaohs, and other Egyptian pictures, Pandora's Box lets you play puzzles of exciting fun from putting statues together to putting ancient hieroglyphics. Microsoft keeps you addicted on those rainy or even SNOWY days this upcoming winter.

Don't know if you know, but MSN's Internet Gaming Zone has a game called Mind Aerobics, in this game are games including a game where you combine puzzle pieces that overlap, this game has been incorporated into Pandora's Box and
that was one of the first things I saw as I already knew how to play it.

If you're already interested in this game click here while you read to download
the Pandora's Box's trial version.

Installation & Story


Installation seems to be the same in all the Microsoft games now including Asheron's Call. A instlalation screen which is graphical and usually includes sounds encompasses your entire screen showing you how much it has copied and usually gives you a little music to dance to.

Pandora's Box has an interesting story line as we previously stated earlier in this review, while the story could have been worked on a little bit more it definitely is enough to keep you playing. Basically, the story is based on the greek mythology that Zeus gave Pandora a box full of all the dangers in the world.



Microsoft has led you to believe that these "tricksters" are the dangers of the world and they have been let out, and you are to find and capture the tricksters' pieces and eventually the actual tricksters to rid the world of these dangers.

Apparently you have to discover pieces of Pandora's Box by traveling around the world olving puzzles to capture the trickster you are currently looking for.


Each piece has a different story and they do a good job of describing the story with what sounds to be like a professional story teller's voice.

Games/Puzzles

With 350 puzzles and lots of different kinds of puzzles, there's no way to get bored in this game, unless your on a tricky one and you give up! This is one game that depending on what your style is you may like or may not. Most people do.I don't want to get into the types of games as I want that to be a surprise for you, but I will mention a few:

  • Rotascope - Compose the picture by sliding tiles on concentric rings.

  • Overlap - Reveal the image by placing overlapping fragments.
  • Focus Point - Swap pieces of a picture to assemble the original image.
  • Outer Layer - Replace the surface of an object by attaching the pieces.
  • Slices - Rebuild an object by rotating, fluipping, and stacking the slices.

Those are only 5 out of 10 different kinds of puzzles, Here are a few of them in action:

Graphics, Sound & Music

Considering this is not really a 3D game, the graphics are hardly worth speaking about. They do their purpose which is to help you enjoy the game. While it may not be Asheron's Call quality its certainly something worth watching.

Sound and music makes the game, with its unique sounds and animations is some puzzles makes the games easy to play and easy to think.

Tricksters

Tricksters? I bet when I mentioned the tricksters in Pandora's box you got
confused, well I'm going to straighten them all out. The tricksters you are trying to catch
have flown the coop or have broken out of Pandora's Box. Here are the tricksters you are trying to catch:

  • Puck likes nothing so much as a jest, especially when the joke's on mortals.
    he's forever laughing at them, except when he's laughing with them.

  • Maui is endlessly inventive, but never takes anything very seriously. He has a
    thousand tricks to play, and you never know what his next prank will be.

  • Eris steps in and shakes things up when there's too much order in the world.
    She's contradictory and contrary, and doesn't like it when things go too smoothly.

  • Monkey played tricks on the gods and got himself thrown out of heaven for his
    mischief-making. On earth, he's king of the monkeys.

  • Anansi likes playing jokes on those who think they're smarter than he is. He
    can make anyone believe anything, but he's been fooled himself a time or two.

  • Coyote has been tricking mortals since the word was young. Whenever people get
    too full of themselves, he can't resist taking them down a peg.

  • Raven likes mortals, but can't seen to resist having fun with them. you can
    never tell if he's doing you a favor or playing another joke.

The game is relatively simple and doesn't require you to be smart just a good thinker, or someone who's ready to sit down to a good puzzle. Some puzzles are hard and may require you to go further in the level to get Free tokens or Hints which I am going to talk about next.

Help

Some puzzles will take just too long to figure out and you want to capture the trickster! That's why Microsoft has incorporated some help on some puzzles if you've earned it.

Here are some of the kinds of help they provide:

  • Hints - Hints are hidden in special puzzles and if you solve one of the random
    puzzles you receive a hint which can be used on a later puzzle anywhere in the game. A hint is usually small and should only be used if you're stuck. A hint is something like where a particular piece goes in Overlap game or where a piece goes in a Rotascope.

  • Free Puzzles - After solving 10 puzzles you are given a Free puzzle which means
    you can use this anywhere in the game that will solve the whole puzzle for you. Usually showing you how its solved so you can see what you could have done or what you should have done. You only get these every 10 solved puzzles so don't use them without making sure you need to use it!

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Originality: 90%
Gameplay: 85%
Story: 87%
Graphics: 60%
Sound: 95%
Music: 96%
Manual: 87%
Interface: 90%
Multiplayer: N/A
Overall: 86%

 


Microsoft has developed the perfect game for newbies! Without knowing how the game works like in Asheron's Call. You don't need to know the game, all you need is your computer and your strategic skills! This game can be addicting in fact when it was in beta under the code
name Rubik some testers and their children were hooked! If you want to know... Pandora's Box Anonymous next week at the ActiveWindows Chat. See you there!

 

Specs & Package
Overall Score 86%
Version Reviewed Version 1.0
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 CD with Manual
The Good Points Great Fun!
Addictive
Great Story
The Bad Points Not so Good Graphics
CD and Manual Together
Reviewers PC Setup AMD K6 200
Windows 98 Second Edition
80 Meg SD-Ram
3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 - 16mb
DirectX 7
Crystal PnP Soundcard
15" IBM  Monitor
Microsoft Natural Keyboard
Microsoft Intellimouse Pro
PC Required Multimedia PC
Pentium 100 or faster microprocessor
Microsoft Windows® 95, 98 or Windows NT® Workstation operating system version 4.0 or later with Service Pack 3
16 MB RAM for Windows 95, 98, (32 MB recommended), 32 MB of RAM for Windows NT (64 MB Recommended)
100 MB of available hard-disk space; 50 MB of available hard-disk space for swap file
4X CD ROM drive or faster
Audio board and speakers for audio
Super VGA video display (with 1MB VRAM)
Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

 

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