Zak McKracken should have it all, right? He should have fame, fortune, millions of adoring fans, women swooning at his feet. After all, it wasn't THAT many years ago, since he saved the world from being enslaved by the evil alien Caponians. He even wrote a book about his adventures, which became a best-seller. He should be living the dream!
Unfortunately, that was then, and this is now. Things haven't quite worked out as Zak had hoped. People soon forgot about the Caponians and their Stupifying Machine, and how Zak bravely conquered them. His money is gone, his fame is gone, he didn't get the woman he loves, Zak's own newspaper, The National Infultrator is not selling well, and he's barely surviving in a small apartment.
However, Zak's life is about to change once again. While investigating a new story for his paper, he finds himself as a stowaway hiding in the cargo hold on board an aircraft... which is then infiltrated by none other, than the Caponians! The aliens he thought he had defeated all those years ago! Yikes!
But when he wakes up the next morning, safe in his bed, he decides it must have all been a dream, and the world is still safe. So why does he have that nasty bump on his head?
Zak McKracken: Between Time And Space is a wonderful, highly-polished unofficial sequel to Zak McKracken & The Alien Mindbenders. And Zak fans are in for such a treat! Zak's dialogue is simply hilarious, and I love how he frequently talks in 'Headlines', to describe a certain situation.
The game was originally created in German, and then translated into English, and you get to choose which language you want to use.
A mouse is used to interact with Zak's world, with icons shown in a handy Pop-Up box, as you click & hold your mouse over something. Actions available are Look, Pick Up, Push\Pull, Use, Talk, and Open\Close, but the smart cursor is context-sensitive, and blanks out actions that don't make sense for a particular situation. For example, you won't be able to Open a piece of tarp, or Talk to a cardboard box.
After the intro section, you can choose if you want to play on the Hard level or Easy level, so adventure veterans as well as adventure beginners should all be happy. But if you get stuck, pressing the Space Bar brings up all the hotspots in the current scene, which can be VERY handy, as some items are hard to find.
The game uses a lot of references to other adventure games, which I absolutely loved! I spotted references to Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Fate Of Atlantis, Simon The Sorcerer, and more, which added to the enjoyment.
The Game Menu is accessed by pressing Esc, and this allows you to Save your game (clicking on this brings up a separate Save\Load screen), or Quit your game, so you never loose your progress.
It's a huge download, which might put some people off. But I urge you to go ahead and give it a shot. You won't regret it!
Wow, the graphics! The gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds are simply stunning to look at, while the characters seem to pop out of the screen at you. You could spend ages on each screen, just admiring each little detail! And the animation is incredibly smooth.
Inventory items are shown as icons along the bottom of the screen, and some of them are even animated - it's lovely to see Sushi swimming round in her fish bowl, in the inventory row. Light from various sources case shadows. Torches on the wall in the Temple really flicker and cackle, as though they are really moving, bringing the game to life. There are a few death scenes (don't worry, if you die, you get the option to 'Retry', which takes you right back to before you died), which are funny to watch, but my favourite definitely has to be the dancing Skeleton-Zak, hehe. Cut-scenes are amazing, and almost seem like cartoons you are watching.
The game is fully voiced, but conversations are also shown as text above each character's head, so you always know who is talking. Conversation topics are also shown as text at bottom of the screen. Conversations can be rather lengthy at times, but you can easily click through it, if you get too frustrated.
SOUND AND MUSIC
As I mentioned above, the game is fully voiced, making the characters seem more alive. Voices are professional, and all the characters sound just how I imagined them, with the exception of one whiny high-pitched alien. But that's just my opinion, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Sound effects are top-notch! Zak's footsteps sound different, depending on what surface he is walking on - pavement, carpet, hard floor, etc. So much attention to detail has been given, to things like the baker's doorbell ringing, knocking on a door, or a guard dog growling at the scout camp. But my favourite is the thunderstorm at beginning of the game. It sounds so real, you can just close your eyes and imagine it's right outside your window.
Music has also been used to great effect. The upbeat-atmospheric always seems to fit the scene.
Zak McKracken is a highly polished freeware game that every adventure fan is sure to love. It's clearly a labour of love for this highly talented team. Right from the start, the intriguing story grabs you, and doesn't let go! What is Zak doing on the plane? Can he escape in time? The game is mouse-controlled, so it's very easy to play. Adding a Hard and Easy mode will keep adventurers of all levels happy. Dialogue is witty and well-written, and will have you chuckling along. The game is incredibly polished, and one of the nicest freeware adventures I've seen. Voices are a pleasure to listen to, and music always seems to fit the scene nicely.
The huge download might be a problem for those on dial-up or those on limited internet use. But if you can... play it, and help Zak save the world once more.
Review by: Frodo
Safe for ages: 13+
Mac OSX 10.7