Release Date: 2004
The Sherlock Holmes of the paranormal, the Encyclopedia Brown of the unexplained, the Spenser of the supernatural … why, it’s Ben Jordan, of course! And this time he’s in the fictional California ghost town of Dunesburg to find a woman’s husband who went missing after looking for the Lost Galleon – a legendary treasure ship hidden in the depths of the infamous Salton Sea. Francisco “Grundislav” Gonzalez strikes gold in this independently developed adventure, adding more length and difficulty to top Ben’s first case.
As I mentioned, the plot mostly revolves around the Lost Galleon and the missing diver. Unlike the previous game, where you learn very little about the topic at hand, Lost Galleon provides each character with a bit of history to add to your notebook – especially one very important character who is over 130 years old. The biggest positive aspect about this game, in general, is that there is MORE of everything.
The same Sierra interface from Case #1 is used throughout the game, except that your notebook is now a separate toolbar icon and keeps track of your important tasks throughout the game instead of case notes. Inventory is easy to use, especially when combining items. Every action earns you a designated number of points, the total being 205. I only finished with 203, but that did not affect the ending in any way.
The graphics are improved from the original game, with more detail and more consistency. Characters continue to look more realistic and Gonzalez is taking more risks with things like positioning (i.e. sitting, lying down). He obviously works hard to improve with each installment and that is something to take advantage of.
Dialogue is longer this time around, as each character – er, most characters – have a lot to say about Ben’s investigation or small talk about themselves and the town. While this is sometimes boring to sit through, seeing as it does nothing to help nor hinder the case (or your intelligence, for that matter – hello,Longest Journey!), it does make the game seem longer and makes the characters come alive.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge in this installment, the puzzles are sure to please. While they are not ridiculously difficult, some again require you to think just like Gonzalez. For example, you might be going crazy trying to find a key for a locked door when you should be trying to pickpocket an old lady’s credit card (OK, so Gonzalez doesn’t stoop as low as Mystery of the Druids). In other words, I found some puzzles to be a stretch of logic that I just couldn’t fathom, but I suppose that the solutions to those puzzles will come to those who think on that particular brainwave. There are also a few puzzles in places to which navigation is a bit challenging. Overall, most are logical and fun to solve.
There is more music in this episode and I am pleased to say that it is absolutely amazing. It is enough reason to check out the game even if the plot does not interest you. The ghost town theme hits the nail on the head and several other locations also feature great tunes. Hopefully this quality will continue throughout upcoming cases.
Alas, there are some paranormal bugs that our hero’s magnifying glass seems to have missed. The biggest problem for me was that my saved games did not save. Thus, I had to play the game in one entire sitting because the Load menu appeared empty of all of my saved games, which required me to use Alt-Tab if I became stuck. This was a huge nuisance because at first I diagnosed it to be a simple error, maybe something I pressed since I found that during saving the game would freeze temporarily. But, almost at the end, I saved my game and came back the next day to discover that I had to start from the beginning again. Argh! Talk about testing one’s patience (and I, for one, have very little, especially when it comes to things not going the way I want them to).
The other technical difficulty I had was a sound problem that occurred twice during the five times I loaded the game. An error message would pop up and then the game would have no sound. In order to correct this had to run the Setup program again and save my options, then reload the game. While not a huge problem, it was not a pleasant experience.
It was unfortunate that very aggravating tech problems got in the way of this otherwise wonderful game, but I highly recommend Ben Jordan’s second case as long as you have 45-60 minutes in which to sit down and complete the game from start to finish.
Final Grade: B+