The Sacred Mirror of Kofun
Windows 3.x - 1996
Description of The Sacred Mirror of Kofun
The Sacred Mirror of Kofun is based around an ancient Japanese legend which tells the story of a magical mirror that was given to a warlord as a talisman by his wife. The mirror, which was supposedly used to defeat the warlords enemies with its reflection, was eventually buried with the warlord in his tomb. The tale of the sacred mirror of Kofun was handed down from generation to generation, and dismissed by many as a myth; until one day an ancient document was discovered containing information about the mirror, which was backed up by great historical fact.
The sudden speculation created by the ancient document sparks off renewed interest in the mirror, which is where you and your team of experts fit in.
Jean-Michel and The Mythical Mirror
In The Sacred Mirror of Kofun, players assume the role of Chris Young, a racecar driver, top gun and all round nice-guy, who is intrigued by historical myth/legend and specialises in marine technology. You have been summoned by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the owner of the high-tech ship Antares, and his scientific team, to lead an ocean expedition. Once you arrive aboard, however, you discover that the original mission has taken a turn for the worst, as an archaeologist, who was searching for the mythical mirror, has mysteriously disappeared.
The basic aim in The Sacred Mirror of Kofun is to complete the original mission, which is to launch a research lab called the Poseidon, and continue the search for the missing archaeologist. You begin the game on the bridge of the ship Antares, where you are given a mission briefing. To get any further in the game, you have to interact with the various crew members, and the onboard computer E.D.W.A.R.D. Later on in the game you can 'control' the onboard vessels, the Angel Sharks. These are underwater scuba subs, which you use for transport to take various photographs of the undersea wreckage's. You also get to visit various tropical locations which sometimes include Indiana Jones-esque booby traps.
Out of Control
Gameplay in The Sacred Mirror of Kofun basically revolves around point and click procedures. Although in theory, it should be fairly easy to execute movement using this technique, the control method is ropy to say the least, with pixel perfect mouse control being the order of the day. The screen update is pretty quick considering the amount of detail contained in each screen, with only a brief delay from one screen to the next. The interactive deep sea diving FMV sections, are fairly decent, with the camera panning through various underwater World War II ship wrecks. Highlights include close-ups of various aquatic sea-life, which include barracudas and muray eels. Although fairly impressive at first (featuring some idyllic underwater scenery), the monotonous 'on rails' gameplay and unresponsive controls lead to severe frustration. Sometimes there is absolutely no response when you press a mouse button, which can be highly frustrating when you have less than two seconds to perform the action.
The storyline, which tries to merge both futuristic technology and historical myth works quite well, but fails to introduce anything in the way of tension or intrigue - which the programmers obviously attempted to achieve. The tried and tested nature of the gameplay offers nothing new, and is very badly executed. The game also gives you the opportunity to swap from a static 2D view, to a real-time 3D view during most parts of the game. Although the 3D view features fairly grainy graphics, it moves fairly smoothly, and is strangely easier to control than navigating your way around the game using the 2D view. One useful innovation is that whilst you are onboard the Antares, you can switch to the 3D mode, and then click anywhere on the map of the ship and you will automatically be taken there. This saves clicking through about ten screens of scenery - very useful.
At various intervals throughout the game you have to interact with the onboard computer known as E.D.W.A.R.D. The onboard computer plays an important part in the game acting as an encyclopaedia, a memo, storage (to store various forms of useful evidence), and above all, a pain in the neck. Interacting with E.D.W.A.R.D is easy enough as it uses a fairly user friendly interface. The main problem with E.D.W.A.R.D is that it is played by an actor (who acts as a holographic image) who interrupts every now and again, either giving you useful advice, or cracking a terrible joke.
The sound within The Sacred Mirror of Kofun is a fairly mixed affair. Whilst on one hand the music adds to the overall atmosphere (the underwater sequences especially) the speech (which is provided by some pretty hammy actors) never fails to annoy. The photorealistic backgrounds, which are pretty as they are, don't work when interaction needs to take place, whilst the rendered 2D backgrounds are a bit on the drab side. Although the loading times for the screen updates are OK, the music skips every now and again, and has to load itself again every thirty seconds or so.
Kofun or Nofun???
At the end of the day, although you can appreciate that Enteractive have put a lot of effort into The Sacred Mirror of Kofun, the final product just doesn't work. The dodgy control method and uninvolving storyline mean that I can't really recommend this as there are far better examples of this genre to spend your hard earned cash on.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
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Windows 3.x Version
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