Articles/Game Reviews/PC/Arctic Adventure (1991)

Arctic Adventure was released in 1991 by Apogee Software as a sequel to the Pharaoh's Tomb series. It is a platformer, this time set in the Arctic, where you are searching for a Viking treasure. The lead role is reprised by Nevada Smith, the daring adventurer from the prior title.

This game features CGA graphics, which are only a few colors, mostly in blue and red. Unlike the previous Pharaoh's Tomb, Arctic Adventure uses mostly reds and blues instead of oranges, greens, and yellows to better match the chilly frozen land of the north. The graphics are pretty simple, but since it is a 2D platformer it isn't that big of a deal.

A unique aspect to this game is that you are placed in an overhead map with pathways leading to various doors. By entering a door you enter a level and if you get frustrated you can just press ESC and return to the map and try another one. Each level is one screen and relatively short, but there are 20 levels per episode and four episodes make that 80 levels in total. Some of the levels require a key to reach and others are surrounded by water, requiring you to find a boat in one of the levels before you can access them. Similarly, keys are found in certain levels and allow you to unlock the doors.

In each level, you are faced with a myriad of dangers. Usually there are moving platforms that you have to carefully jump around on. They say white man can't jump, but tell that to Nevada Smith as he jumps several times his own height! Dangers include ape-like men wandering around and penguin-looking things, which you must shoot with your gun. You have a limit of ammunition and more can be found in various levels. In addition to the hostiles, there are also stationary spikes, moving tridents, motion-triggered dart guns, and falling blocks and spikes.

In each level your goal is to collect all of the treasure (diamonds, coins, chests) and pickaxes. Some treasure is stored in blocks, much like in the Mario games, and if you jump up into them it will add to your score. In some levels there are push-button switches that unlock new areas or add platforms so you can reach new places in the level.

The level of difficulty of this game is moderate. You can die, but you don't have a finite number of lives so you can retry a level as much as you want until you pass it. It can be frustrating to get to nearly the end of a level and make a dumb mistake like jumping into some spikes.

Overall, I would say that this is a great classic platformer and it is still very playable today. When I was young my parents wouldn't get me a Nintendo, so this game helped me feel better since it was similar to Mario Brothers in gameplay. I fired up DOSBox and had this one running perfectly in Windows 7 64-Bit. Best of all, Apogee released this and a number of other games as freeware, so you can find it in this very website's abandonware section or on the Apogee website.