Arctic Adventure

Moby ID: 716
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Six months after the events of Pharaoh's Tomb, the young assistant-turned-treasure hunter Nevada Smith yearns for another discovery. Not willing to take his previous exploits as "beginner's luck" as accused by so called experts, Nevada has been determined to find another great prize to find.

One night while scouring old tomes in the university's library, Nevada finds mention of a band of Vikings who, after a large looting raid, had hidden their ship-full of ancient treasures somewhere in an Arctic cave. Being distrustful of each other, the band of Vikings, tore up the map that lead to the cave into four pieces and hid them as well. Only by putting the map together again would they be able to return to their treasure but as fate would have it after hiding their loot and map pieces the Vikings hit a powerful storm on their venture back and were lost at sea taking with them their secrets.

Deciding that he must go in search of this treasure our determined hero asks his old professor Dr. Jones to assist him on his quest. Dr. Jones, though flattered, turns down Nevada due to his large workload but not before tossing Nevada a little parting gift to help him on his quest. There, inside a wrap of cloth if Dr. Jones' trusty old .38 caliber revolver. After running back to his apartment and quickly packing Nevada hitches a ride on an Arctic bound freighter to start his Arctic Adventure.

In this sequel to Pharaoh's Tomb, players again control Nevada Smith. As opposed to the first game the player this time around starts out on a map of caves. Some caves need keys to unlock them while others are accessible only by finding a boat first. In this way the player has some choice over which level they'd like to tackle first. Control-wise Nevada can walk side to side, jump and shoot a gun, for which ammo must be collected on levels. Pick-axes must also be collected to break blocks of ice in your path. Along your journey the player will run into multitudes of enemies from, Yeti to penguins which can be either avoided since they are restricted to moving in strict patterns or dispatched with your revolver. There are of course traps abound in the caves and most will be found too late by players. Natural hazards and obstacles such as spike pits, rolling boulders, and piercing icicles are another thing to be on the watch for. Lastly another introduction in this sequel is the presence of icy cave floors. Players must judge their movements carefully to control themselves and predict the predicament they may find themselves in by stepping on to the ice covered platforms.

The entire game is split into four volumes comprised of twenty levels each with the first volume being the shareware version of the game. The volumes are simply titled Vol.1, Vol.2, Vol.3 and Vol.4. Keys and special items must be collected before advancing on to locked levels. The players have five lives but a save mode is available allowing the players to prolong their adventure. Saves can be made on the map screen and cannot be made while part-way through a level. A high-score table is available from the main menu displaying the top five scores.

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Average score: 2.8 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 1 reviews)

Nevada Smith goes from ancient pyramids to the Arctic

The Good
Apogee was the king of platform games back in the day. Since its inception, the company released two adventure games and the legendary Kroz series, and helped other small independent developers get their games out. But it wasn’t until a newcomer named George Broussard came on board that Apogee really rose to stardom. The company suddenly shifted their focus to platform games, and the first games Broussard made for Apogee were Pharaoh’s Tomb as well as this sequel.

Both games feature Nevada Smith, an Indiana Jones-wannabe who collects treasure, kills enemies, and overcomes traps. After finding his way to the pharaoh’s tomb, he now travels to the Arctic to seek out the map that belonged to a band of Vikings, who tore it up mainly due to their distrust in each other. When all the map pieces have been found, it will lead Nevada to the cave containing their hidden treasures. Although the story and conclusion is presented in text, I didn't have a problem with this, as I could picture what was happening in my mind. I knew what Nevada and his surroundings would look like. I did the same thing when I was reading the text in Pharaoh's Tomb.

Nevada starts his journey walking around a map of the Arctic consisting of twenty levels, most of which he can enter. The idea of this is quite clever, and it is something that Apogee repeated in Crystal Caves and Secret Agent. Some of the caves are in locked passages, which can be opened by collecting keys from certain caves. The cave entrances are well designed; you can see a little passage in them. Also present on the map are lakes with more caves in them, but the only way you can get to them is by getting a boat. One of the caves is blocked off, but an avalanche occurs when you have finished the second-last cave, allowing you access to it.

Each cave is completed by getting the required number of pickaxes used to break the iceblocks blocking the exit, and there are enemies such as abominable snowmen that you need to deal with beforehand, either by shooting them with your pistol or jumping over them. There are also traps you need to avoid such as stalagmites, stalactites, and rolling snowballs. I love how Apogee gives a nod to Super Mario Bros.; if you go down the pipes found in some of the caves, you are taken to a treasure room. Upon returning to the map, the cave is replaced by the word ‘Done’ and you can’t enter it again.

Arctic Adventure is one of the few games to make use of CGA graphics, alongside Pharaoh’s Tomb and The Monuments of Mars. The blue-white-pink color palette blends well with the game’s setting. Each character and hazard is well animated, and the blocks that form the layout of each cave look good. I like the hidden messages that Broussard left in some of them, like the initials that he left in one bonus cave. In a later cave, he hinted what the secret cheat code is – by using blocks to write it. The title screen featuring the illustration of Nevada overlooking an ice shelf with caves cut into it is well done. After you complete one of the volumes, the way you get to see a newly-obtained map piece is rather neat.

The controls are easy to get used to. All players need to know is how to move Nevada left or right, how to jump, and how to fire his weapon. There are three different keyboard configurations to choose from, but if players aren't happy with each one, they can just use the arrow keys to control Nevada's direction and use the keys Z and M to fire.

Nevada’s adventure is split across four volumes, with the first volume being free to copy and distribute among your friends. You were required to pay a small donation to Apogee to get the other three and a few extras. Known as the “Apogee Model”, its rival companies such as Epic MegaGames and id Software embraced it. Fortunately for all of us, the game was made freeware after it was discontinued. If you are a fan of platformers, there is no excuse not to play this.

The Bad
In Pharaoh's Tomb, players could save the game in up to nine slots, so that they can save at different points in each of its volumes. In Arctic Adventure, however, players can only save to just one slot, giving them no opportunity to save at different points. And there is no “Are you sure?” confirmation message, just like that one that appears when you are about to leave the game. What if players mistakenly hit the key used to save the game, rather than load the game instead?

The Bottom Line
This is Broussard’s second game from Apogee. Split across four volumes, you control Nevada Smith, the archaeologist who goes off to the Arctic to explore caves, collect treasure, kill monsters, and overcome traps. As I said before, Arctic Adventure makes use of CGA graphics, but the palette used here blends in with the game’s theme. Although the sound is standard PC Speaker stuff, this was commonplace for a lot of small companies. If the ”now-reborn” Apogee made a remaster of the game, Nevada could do with a bit more animation. As it stands, he is not programmed to face forwards or backwards.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2021

Discussion

Subject By Date
becoming part of the story... Pseudo_Intellectual (65508) Jul 16th, 2017

Trivia

Development

The game was originally developed as Journey to The Center of The Earth as teased in the end credits of Pharaoh's Tomb. The similarities between the novel and the finished game are that the novel starts the adventure in Iceland while in the game the setting is in the Arctic. There is also an underground sea in the novel while the game features an underwater river/lake which the player must traverse.

Freeware release

Released as freeware on March 20, 2009.

Information also contributed by Depeche Mike and PolloDiablo.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Retron.

Windows, Macintosh added by ZeTomes.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Pseudo_Intellectual, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 10th, 2000. Last modified September 13th, 2023.