December 31, 2008
Release Date: 1995
Adventure games and side-scrollers are two of the oldest genres in computer gaming. So why not mix them together? Short answer: The Bermuda Syndrome.
If The Bermuda Syndrome were a Hollywood film, it would surely be an instant hit. I mean, it's got dinosaurs, dinosaurs getting their heads blown off, primitive villagers, primitive villagers getting their heads blown off, and a topless female lead. Unfortunately, nudity and violence don't always make for good adventure gaming: The Bermuda Syndrome is essentially a crummy side-scroller and a crummier adventure game mixed together.
The Bermuda Syndrome basically chronicles the adventures of pilot Jack J. Thompson, a World War II fighter pilot shot down on an island in the Bermuda Triangle (now I'm no history buff, but I really don't think any aerial battles were fought in the Caribbean). Unfortunately for Jack-o, this island happens to be inhabited by dinosaurs that would like nothing more than to disembowel and cook him with a bit of cilantro. Jack is joined by the Princess, a native girl who wears about as much as Britney Spears in her recent Pepsi commercial (sans the suspenders and, uh, half of her bra).
Jack is controlled in the typical side-scrolling fashion of the left, right, and up keys. There's nothing wrong with that. However, there is something wrong with the fact that Jack is about as responsive as a Ford Expedition. There are only about ten possible places to stand on each screen, as opposed to about a hundred in more recent side-scrollers like Jazz Jackrabbit.
And, believe it or not, the adventure facets of the game are even worse. Jack interfaces with the world by selecting an inventory object and then pressing enter. As if that weren't enough, various "action-only" segments are sprinkled throughout The Bermuda Syndrome, where Jack jumps, shoots, and meanders through caves of enemies. Playing The Bermuda Syndrome is about as fun as listening to John Denver's greatest hits (alternate sentence for people who like John Denver: Playing The Bermuda Syndrome is about as fun as listening to Eminem's greatest hits) (alternate sentence for people who like John Denver and Eminem: Playing The Bermuda Syndrome is about as fun as going a day with no hallucinogenic drugs).
In all fairness, the graphics and sound in The Bermuda Syndrome are very well-done. Each screen has a beautiful pastel background, and the dinosaurs are lovingly 3D-rendered (especially for 1995 technology). Music is excellent, as is voice acting. Jack sounds like your typical 1950s tough-guy hero, and the Princess is, for some odd reason, French. The dialogue is very campy, very fifties B-movie. Lines like, "Kiss me, Jack Thompson," are really corny, but hey, they work!
But eye and ear candy are nothing if a game's no fun to play, and The Bermuda Syndrome is definitely not fun to play. There's no hope for the side-scroller/adventure genre, and somehow I doubt any tears will be shed over it. And if you see a Bermuda Syndrome movie, don't be too surprised.
Final Grade: D
If you liked The Bermuda Syndrome:See: A psychiatristPlay: Jazz Jackrabbit 2Read: Jurassic Park by Michael CrichtonWatch: King Kong
System Requirements:IBM-PC 486 DX66 MHz or faster processor8 MB memoryWindows 952x CD-ROM drive or faster256-color SVGA video graphic cardSound card