there, shipmates. Those cut-throats from Psygnosis have once again
wandered from the straight and narrow in desperate bid to prove to
the world that not only do they produce the highest quality racing
titles, but they can match the best in other genres. Already this
year we have witnessed a quality shoot-em-up in the form of Tenka,
an adventure that included some of the strangest puzzles I've ever
come across in City of the Lost Children, the futuristic sports sim
Riot, a top down racer called Speedster and a space adventure titled
Sentient. Their most recent release, the stunning G-Police, covered
almost every remaining genre (bar Platform) with it's helicopter sim
/ shoot-em-up / mission based / strategy / adventure format. How
about that for variation?
what on earth will they come up with next? Well basically it's a
game of pirates and furthermore it crosses several genres. It's a
strategic sea fairing adventure. It is definitely a shoot-em-up.
It's a puzzle game. It is also a maze game. You can float. You can
fly. You can burn. You can sink. It's fun. It's challenging. It's
probably the most original games I have played. You can play it on
your own. You can play it with a mate. You can even invite the
five-a-side football team around for a game if you own a multi-tap.
Quite simply it's Overboard and it's so refreshing.
short intro is a cute cartoon sequence that crams in every
conceivable association to those rouges from the high seas.
Galleons, Jolly Roger flags, parrots, pirates, treasure maps and
compasses all play their part to set the scene. There is a nice
little distraction on the loading screen where a worried looking
parrot is perched on a bomb that will explode when loading is
The in-game graphics are very tidy indeed. Your galleon,
complete with raised sails, floats on top of a large area of water
that is divided into a maze-like course. When moving, little ripples
break out on the surface of the sea while a sudden spurt sees your
ship cut through the waves leaving a trail of foam from your stern.
Every obstacle, item or piece of scenery is reflected onto the
surface of the water, while shorelines feature waves rolling onto
the beaches. Passing clouds add a sense of realism to the
proceedings as do the shadows they cast over the surface below.
Destruction of a guard tower leaves a realistic trail of rising
smoke from the smouldering ashes. Another nice touch is when enemy
ships have been scuttled their wrecks remain visible just below the
waters surface for the remainder of the level. These act as an
excellent beacons should you accidently backtrack over revealed
Weapons are well animated. Groups of cannon balls can be fired
from your aft, stern and bow while the resulting explosion from a
launched rocket creates a glowing ball of fire as they explode.
Should your ship catch fire the sails will be engulfed in glowing
flames and if this is not doused quickly your crew will haul
themselves overboard into the ocean crying aloud for help.
out there remember the soundtrack to Waterworld? Neither do I, so
it's just as well that the music which accompanies this game bares
more than a passing resemblance to the old cartoon adventures of
that scallywag pirate, Captain Pugwash. It's a foot-tapping jig
provided by the ancient mariners favorite instrument, the accordion.
The music ups tempo during the Caribbean world into a... well,
Spanish-Caribbean style of music. You know the type, a mixture of
big brass sounds, clicking castanets, shaking moracas and a few
'YEEE HAH's'. Very Gloria Estefan.
All of the in-game sound effects are accurately portrayed from
the swooping bomb dropping parrots to the screams of drowning
sailors. The game is full of cartoon type sounds with every whizz,
bang and crash adding a little more enjoyment to the game.
opening menu is divided into three treasure chests for single
player, multi-player and game options. Within the options you can
decide on the difficulty setting from land lubbers (easy) to seamen
who truly have salt in their blood (hard). The games controls are
extremely user friendly. The R1 button feels so natural as your
accelerator while the other shoulder buttons allow you to change
weapon and access the map screen. The face buttons can be configured
into various weapon fire actions. So simple and easy to use.
Passwords are offered to record your progress but the options also
include a 'quick save' feature that allows you to quickly save your
position onto a memory card (obviously).
The first thing you will notice is how much accuracy and
precision you have over the ship. Within a couple of minutes you
will be whizzing around the opening obstacle course without a care
in the world. It almost feels like you are sailing a remote control
Initially you command a galleon with three lives and the object
of the game is to collect all of the floating bottles that are
bobbing around on the sea. Each one collected will unveil a section
of the terrain on your level map while the final bottle will unlock
the end of a level. Your secondary objective is to haul aboard an
allocated number of treasure chests. By using your map you can
search for the many secret areas where some of the chests are hidden
alongside a wealth of power ups. These are accessed by blasting
through walls and sailing under waterfalls. Health may be
replenished by picking up the chests marked with a first aid cross
and collection of ammo crates will upgrade your firepower. On screen
you have a compass for plotting your course, a weapon select menu
and a running total of the treasure chests that have been collected
on each level.
Now this all may sound quite simple and straightforward but
there are a couple of things I should mention that may slow down
your progress. First you are not travelling across the open sea but
moving through a network of small harbors. Moving from harbor to
harbor involves solving a puzzle to open the gates. This usually
requires the shooting of a floating buoy, launching a rocket up
towards an air balloon or destroying a selection of targets within
the area you are confined. Sometimes you can transform into an air
balloon or sail inside a bubble to float over a boundary wall.
Basically you are in a maze and must work out how to get through to
the end of a level. Unfortunately these harbors are riddled with
enemies that appear in many forms. Ships will attack you from all
angles with a range of firepower that will have you quivering on the
deck. Cannonballs rain down on you, rockets and fireballs will burn
down your mast and mines will be laid to scupper your progress.
Ships are the least of your worries as kamikaze submarines and
stubborn sharks will attack from below, heavily armed airships and
bomb dropping parrots rule the air, guard towers will fire from the
shores, even the odd cloud will attack you with lightening. Of
course your ship will be armed with an appropriate weapon to tackle
each enemy. Rockets, broadsides, depth charges, oil slicks and
flamethrowers will help, but survival in Overboard will depend on
how you use them.
The levels are divided into themed worlds which are Caribbean,
Inca, Arctic, Industrial and Middle Eastern. At the end of each
world a boss must be defeated before you may advance. These appear
as giant sea creatures such as killer lobsters and fire breathing
monsters and to make matters worse you are trapped within a confined
space with them in a fight to the death.
Overboard includes an excellent multi-player option. There are
ten specifically designed levels for two players, or five players if
a multi-tap is used. Each player receives a different colored ship
then they are all dropped into an enclosed arena that is packed with
power ups. Then it's basically a fight for survival as quite simply
the last boat sailing is the winner. This is a novel idea and
although the boats are quite small I am sure this will prove to be
the as much fun as the highly popular Micro Machines multi player
modes. There is a separate option screen for this mode where various
changes may be altered to suite your style of play such as time
limits, available weapons and number of round required to win.
a single player game Overboard is definitely worth checking out.
Pleasing graphics, music that you can't get out of your head for
days and a gameplay that is more fun than frustrating. Add to this
the many hours that will simply fly past when enjoying the
multi-player levels, then it looks as if Psygnosis have another hit
on their hands.
soon as you begin to feel that Overboard is becoming a little
repetitive, up pops another world with fresh ideas, new scenery and
a host of different enemies. The puzzles are not too challenging but
have enough variation to hold your interest. As a multi-player game
this stands up there with the best as it has that 'just one more go'
feel to it. Simple, but effective. Nice one Psygnosis.