Flies in the Buttermilk . . .
In the vast, untamed universe of computer gaming, heroes come and go, eagerly anticipated and promptly forgotten. But, in Broderbund's Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge, you have the opportunity to take control of a character so menacing and awe-inspiring, enemies cannot help but dive into the nearest filing cabinet for fear of their very lives. You are . . .
A fly? Yes, a fly. And so begins Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge, a glorious romp through the cartoon outback and the outer limits, not to mention an outhouse or two along the way.
The storyline gets reiterated countless times in the game and instruction booklet, so there doesn't seem to be any reason to break with tradition. Here goes: Koala Lumpur, mystic marsupial and guru to the stars, becomes overcome with a terrible stomachache. Was it a shift in the cosmic balance of the universe, or was it just that eel vindaloo he had last night for dinner? But instead of conjuring up the one that coats, he accidentally starts a cataclysmic chain of events that could spell the end of the cartoon universe as we know it, so the rest of the game is spent finding the pieces to a magic scroll that will make everything warm and fuzzy once again.
And so, you, the great Koala's familiar, go trotting off with the Purple One and the infamous Dr. Dingo Tu-far though such lands as The Stream of Consciousness, The Land of Lost Things, and The Eye in the Sky. Along the way, you meet up with all the zany characters Broderbund (now, why can't you print that cool 'o' slashy thingy in HTML?) can throw at you, including Tuff Luv, Woody Knot, and Annie Body, not to mention strange smiling dogmen with big laser rifles and other less friendly enemies. But then again, you're a fly; why should you care . . .
If this seems like a vain attempt at a Sam and Max Hit the Road-type of game, you've just won what's behind door number three. The game design looks familiar, what with a grinning koala, floating above the earth on a magic carpet, sporting a Fez of Many Things, and mouthing off one-liners about enlightenment in a stereotypical Indian accent. OK, so maybe that's not too familiar, but for all the comedic hijinks and bad puns, Journey to the Edge seems like it was definitely aimed at the same audience.
For the first couple hours, Koala, Dingo, and their odd accents are, sad to say, endearingly cute . . . for the first couple hours. After that, the cheesy quips the designers felt obliged to make the characters spout (look, Ma, we've got all this extra space on this CD-ROM!) get downright annoying. Actual game play isn't so much a collection of puzzles to solve as a scavenger hunt for which item will work in the given situation. Though brainracking at moments, it becomes tedious in the long-run. Unlike Sam and Max, the wonderfully-refreshing element of physical comedy just isn't there, save the rare moments where you get electrocuted in a lamp or crushed beneath a rapidly-descending dingo.
Not to fear, however--not all is bad in Koalaland. The truth of the matter is, Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge makes a great game for younger players (or those young at heart). To see if that includes you, check out this Shockwave version at the Koala Lumpur website and enjoy. (all you need is your web broser and a Shockwave plug-in) Recommended for ages 13+, adult language is absent and violence rare, while the interface is simple enough to be enthralling. Besides, the shear novelty of taking on the role of a completely harmless fly, buzzing around the screen, even while carrying a two-ton wrench, never ceases to amuse me.