If there’s one thing we love, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Take Flight of the Amazon Queen, a humorously entertaining point-and-click adventure released in 1995 for Amiga and DOS. A timeless piece of fun, FOTAQ is like a classic film, one with enough unique character, and a bit of light-hearted stereotyping, to transform wrinkles into nostalgia. Though understandably not for all, appreciative adventure fans may want to gear up for this daft and enjoyable trip.
A typical Slide To Play writer’s apartment.
It’s South America in 1949, and Joe King, pilot for hire’“’“a street-smart, one-lining, New York type’“’“accepts a contract to fly Faye Russel, Hollywood movie star, to a film set in the Amazon. After Joe’s plane, the Amazon Queen, crashes in a storm, Faye becomes irritated and departs into the jungle, leaving behind Joe with his trusty sidekick Sparky. After visiting a variety of comical locations’“’“including a village of 6-foot-tall Pygmies, a Christian missionary, a 24-hr convenience mart and an Amazon-based lederhosen company’“’“Joe uncovers the maniacal German Dr. Ironstein’s plans to turn Amazon women into enraged dinosaurs as part of a plot to take over the world.
With a story that outrageous, you could hardly go wrong, but FOTAQ accentuates the fantastical fiction with a full cast of voiceovers to comedic effect. The missionary, for example, speaks with an exaggerated Southern accent, the Pygmies express themselves in a quick comical cadence and Dr. Ironstein gives a thoroughly bizarre performance reminiscent of Peter Sellers as “Dr. Strangelove.” There is a film-like quality to all of this that’s quite charming, pulling a wealth of late ’40s American culture into the experience.
“I’m not joking. My name really is Joe King.”
Gameplay consists of standard adventure fare. Those familiar with titles ranging from the early ’90s Indiana Jones series to the recently released Return to Mysterious Island should be right at home. Players interact with locations by applying the appropriate action command via a cursor that hovers over the screen. To open a door, for example, you’d position the cursor over the door, and then select the open command. Unfortunately, the controls were clearly made for use with a mouse, and little seems to have changed in the transition to iPhone. As such, dragging the cursor around feels somewhat clumsy, particularly when getting used to the controls. An updated touch interface would have certainly made for an improvement. But the controls are functional, if unbecoming.
With its balmy plot and imaginative locales, FOTAQ provides a good 10 hours of challenging gameplay. Finding and combining items accounts for a good deal of the game’s puzzles, and fans of the adventure genre should find an enjoyable return to their roots. It’s not for everybody, mind you, and at $4.99 it’s a bit steep, especially considering the game is available as freeware. That said, FOTAQ is a good piece of adventure history, and we’re happy to have it in the palm of our hand.