Friday, December 02, 2005


Name: SubTerra
Author: Crystal Shard
License: Freeware

SubTerra is part boulderdash, part sokoban, part logic game, part action game, and a little blocks thrown in for good measure. You control the guy with the brown hood. Your goal is collect enough gems to activate the exit. To get to the exit, you have to navigate mazes, find keys to unlock doors, obtain special tools to pass through certain tiles (ice skates to pass over ice for example), and move items out of the way. Along the way you need avoid falling rocks, traps, monsters, and what not.

SubTerra is not a perfect game. In fact, it is far from it. The games contains 80 plus objects. This is the first problem with the game: there are too many items. The tutorial levels gently introduces the various items, and there is good documentation. However, it is difficult to keep track of how each item acts and interacts with other items. Let's see, when a rock drops on an egg, it becomes a diamond. On the other hand, when an egg passes through a blue transmuter, it hatches into a cryo bird monster. The rules often do not make any sense. Why does a safe when pushed into water become dirt? I think you get the point.

The second problem is more personal taste. Too many of the levels require quick fingers and little brains. I wish it was the other way around. Or at least, I wish there was one level set which is for thinkers only.

Another complaint is that the game is buggy. If you minimize the game, it will most likely crash. When you exit, SubTerra hangs with a white screen. You have to use the task bar to kill the game. This is very annoying.

With all this going against it, why am spending this week's entry on SubTerra? Well... it is a fun game. There are a huge number of levels, 7 level set with 459 levels, plus some hidden levels. And despite the frenzy finger work sometimes necessary, the levels are enjoyable and challenging. Also, this was released as freeware after being shareware for years (thank you!!!).

Another thing this game has going for it is a large fan following. This is always a good sign. CaravelNet (makers of DROD) hosts a SubTerra forum. In this forum, you can find out about new levels, get help, learn how those transporters work, or read up on rumors of a sequel.


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