Hype: The Time Quest
While fleeing from her father’s war-torn kingdom, Lyzothe found a child abandoned at the foot of the tree -- she adopted him and named him Hype. Soon after, she reached the kingdom of Torras where Taskan IV, the king of Torras, was taken with Lyzothe's beauty and the two were married. As Hype grew, his skills surpassed those of all the knights in the kingdom. Eventually Hype’s efforts ended the wars that raged across the land and Taskan decided to honor his adopted son with the legendary Sword of Peace.
However, just as Hype accepted the sword, a Black Knight appeared on a ferocious dragon and demanded the crown to the kingdom. Hype tried to stop the evil knight, but was no match for his powers. Powerful magic transformed Hype into a statue and he was flung far into the past where a young wizard found him and managed to break the enchantment. Now Hype must find a way to return to his own time and save the kingdom.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
I love Playmobil -- all the little characters and, even better, all the little gizmos that go with them. When I was young my brother and I used to stage epic battles across the living room between our Playmobil and Fisher Price toys. Ubi Soft has taken these fun little toys and brought them to life in Hype: The Time Quest. The game is a Zelda-like adventure that takes players into a fantasy world where Hype must fight epic battles and rescue a kingdom. Starting deep in the past he must find the magic talismans that will enable him to return to his own time. Along the way he creates a mythic legend of his exploits that spans the centuries.
The controls are fairly straightforward, but you’ll want to have a good eight button gamepad to play, as the keyboard controls are awkward. There is a simple tutorial section at the start of the game that teaches the basic gameplay, but some advanced maneuvers will take experimenting and practice to master. A large portion of the game consists of fighting enemies that range from wolves and bandits to skeletons and ghosts. Hype has three methods available to defend himself -- his sword, a crossbow, and magic. As I played through the game I used the sword in almost all situations. Occasionally I used the crossbow to hit enemies or targets that I couldn’t reach with the sword, but I only used the magic spells when I had to. Magic is the most awkward attack and I found that trying to activate a spell when pressed for time wasn’t easy.
As you journey, you’ll interact with a cast of townsfolk. Conversing with them will give you the clues you’ll need to find your way through the game. I only had one real problem with the characters in the game -- they were often inconsistent in how they treated Hype. As an example there is one character who complained that bees were causing problems in the town. If you go through and get rid of all the bees and return, the character doesn’t even thank you. In another case another knight you help immediately betrays you. This sort of thing happens throughout the game -- it’s not a big deal, but I find it somewhat annoying that a game designed for kids portrays a majority of people as ungrateful, dishonest, or deceptive.
Like all games of this style you have to pay attention to details in the game to find the clues you need to complete the quest. In most cases it’s not too hard to figure out where you need to go next, but I did run into a couple of places where I wandered aimlessly until I finally noticed the detail or location I’d missed.
The animation of the characters is absolutely darling. I particularly loved they way the younger characters stand twisting their toes against the ground and the fluid flight of the dragons throughout the game. Hype’s movements are detailed -- amazingly so for a character who is supposed to be made of plastic. The developers have managed to keep the feel of Playmobil toys, while bringing them to life.
While the characters are great, the backdrops in the game are more on the mediocre side. The textures are fairly detailed, but the 3D modeling of the world isn’t up to the quality of the rest of the game. Most areas are simple polygons with the backdrops painted on the walls. While this works inside the castles and other buildings, the outdoor areas look odd. The edges of the forested areas are simply huge walls with trees painted on them.
Most of the audio in the game is the voices of the characters and they are very well done. From the children you meet in town to the rich voice of the dragon all the actors are easily understood, entertaining, and each fits the on-screen character they portray. The effects are also well done and combined with the music they add a feeling of pageantry to the game.
Minimum: Windows 95/98, Pentium 200 MMX, 32 MB RAM, 3D Accelerator Card, 12X CD-ROM
Recommended: Pentium II or higher, 64 MB RAM
The Playmobil characters in the game are brought to life and combined with an interesting story to make a game that will challenge not only younger players, but more experienced gamers as well. While the game does have more primitive 3D modeling for the world than others of its type, it makes up for it in the cuteness of the character animations. If you’ve been looking for a game that kids will enjoy, take a look at Hype -- you won’t be disappointed.