FLIGHT OF THE AMAZON QUEEN / Warner Interactive / PC

Flight of the Amazon Queen does a number of things right, chiefly among them some neat graphical tricks and an overall level of polish surprising for what was a little two-man indie operation for most of its development. As a long-time adventure game fan, however, it just doesn't work for me, mostly because it just feels like a watered-down, semi-inspired hybrid of Monkey Island and Fate of Atlantis, but without the sharp writing or puzzles of either. This sort of gets borne out by the fact that the engine feels like they sent ninjas into LucasArts to steal SCUMM, but then hid their dastardly deed by changing the graceful verb menu and inventory system into a clunkier icon-based system that frequently requires one too many clicks to get things done.

The interface is a bit annoying, but as mentioned before, the main problem I had is just not being drawn into the plot or characters at all. Picture a Fate of Atlantis sort of plot and setting, but with Monkey Island's silliness and dream logic, and you have this one. Not a bad setup, but the writing and characters are just too flat, and the humor rarely comes off all that well. It just feels like the K-Mart budget clone of the superior LucasArts games.

So, the game begins as "Lucky" Jake Mas Joe King, a dude with a biplane and an inexpicable sidekick, gets a contract to fly some movie star to the Amazon for a photo shoot. Only, his main air cargo rival dude locks him in a hotel room and sends goons to make sure he doesn't get out. So you start the game off with a puzzle sequence of escaping from the hotel, then we're off to the Amazon from there, where the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere and is where the bulk of the game takes place.

The game is far from terrible but it's far from excellent as well. The graphics are impressive, yet the music is bland and forgettable at best and loops every 5 seconds at worst. Puzzles tend to jag from too straightforward to way too "dream logicy" without ever hitting a nice stride or feeling authentically integrated into the environment. It's impressive that a budget title implemented voice acting during fully-animated cutscenes, but the voice acting is amateurish and generally poor.

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