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SummaryExcellent collection of games based on the popular After Dark
The GoodPrior to Windows 95, Microsoft’s operating system lacked a screensaver, a program that will display an animation or a series of images if the display was left idle for a certain period of time. And so, it was up to third parties such as Berkeley Systems to fill the void, and one such product was Berkeley’s After Dark, a series of screensaver packages that were released for the Macintosh and PC. When Sierra acquired the company in the late Nineties, the company decided not to continue with the screensavers. Instead, they made a games package based on Berkeley’s work.
This package is comprised of eleven games, with each game being accessed within the Start menu. When you start one of them for the first time, you are asked to enter your name so that you create your own session. You can add another player, and that session is restricted to them. From anywhere within the game, you can set options for the game, view the instructions, or display the high scores.
Some of the games are influenced by popular culture, but the developers were careful to use original sprites. “Mowin’ Maniac”, for instance, is a Pac-Man clone featuring gardeners, dogs, and zombies. “Toaster Run” is a game reminiscent of Head Over Heels, but contains different objectives. All the games are good, but I really enjoy “Fish Schticks” and “Bad Dog 911”, where you have to enter as many words as you can without running out of time. They are ideal for improving your skills at Scrabble.
Each game has two or three pages of instructions, and they are worth reading if you are new to the game. The layouts of these instructions is excellent, with text often being restricted to one side, and graphics on the other. The options screen lets you change between three types of difficult and change audio settings. There are other options unique to a specific game. “MooShu Tiles”, the Mahjongg game, lets you choose the appearance of the tiles as well as their layout. There are eleven icons below the main game screen, and these allow you to jump to a game without going to the desktop first.
Sound-wise, I love the background music in “Fish Schticks”; it has a calming feel to it. The sound effects in “Mowin’ Maniac” are great. As for the graphics, all of the games boast great animations and sprite detail.
The BadThe standard Windows mouse cursor is intrusive. Moving it around so that it does not get in the way is tedious, and I tend to forget to do so after I choose another game to play. Sierra could have allowed the player to hide the cursor so that this habit won’t get repeated.