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Review by: John Austin
Published: January 5, 2001
As the various genres of computer gaming age, they inevitably go through periods of change. The adventure genre, for example, has evolved from the strictly text-based stories such as the original Zork into epic sagas with elaborate sound and artwork such as the Gabriel Knight series. Regardless of advancements made in any particular genre, every new game that hits store shelves tends to be corralled into one of these groups. While attempts have been made to combine categories, it is rare for a product to successfully break free of all such classifications. One that tries is Giants: Citizen Kabuto from Planet Moon Studios, which might be classified as an action shooter or a real-time strategy title; in reality it is neither … and perhaps a bit of both.
The setting of Giants is actually a broken-off piece of a faraway planet that flies through space like an exotic asteroid. The surface is covered mostly with water, but is broken up by lush land formations — islands within the Island. The ocean-dwelling Sea Reapers were the original inhabitants of the Island but were forced to retreat to the sea when the beast created as their protector, the mighty giant Kabuto, became aware of his uniqueness and the pain of isolation turned him against his makers. Sappho, queen of the Sea Reapers, has begun to take steps to reclaim the islands from the giant by whatever means necessary. However, Delphi, Sappho’s daughter, does not agree with her mother’s evil ways and hopes to find a way to combat the magical powers of her own people and bring peace. Unfortunately, Delphi’s cause seems hopeless, as she has not yet developed her own powers and cannot face her mother’s forces alone. Enter the Meccaryns, or “Meccs” for short — five space travelers with distinctively cockney accents from a technologically advanced world. Baz, Tel, Reg, Bennett, and Gordon are on holiday and enroute to the vacation world of Planet Majorca when their ship is swallowed by a giant space fish. Two months later, their ship has been digested and is “discharged” from the beast, and the space travelers are forced to find the nearest landing spot to effect repairs on their ship. The nearest rock turns out to be the Island.
The other sentient residents of the Island, the Smarties, are a diminutive race that find themselves caught in the middle of the conflicts of the other races. Baz and his good-hearted Meccs, anxious to be off the Island and on their way to Planet Majorca, can’t help but assist the innocent Smarties as they are overrun by the tyranny of the Reapers. The Smarties themselves are crucial in their efforts, as they are the source of labor and knowledge for the heroes. Therefore, many of the missions involve rescuing or protecting Smarties from the clutches of the evil Reapers. The Mecc storyline eventually ties in to the struggles of Delphi, whose primary goal is tracking down Sappho and stopping her evil plans. After Delphi’s campaign, the storyline puts the player in the shoes of Kabuto himself. The giant is no longer a friend of the Reapers, and his campaign involves stomping across the islands, destroying, or even eating any Reapers that get in his way. Evil Smarties also contribute to Kabuto’s diet, with the added benefit of giving him strength needed to lay eggs for hatching offspring that will obey his commands.
Planet Moon, perhaps as a way of breaking from the standard and often bland “good vs. evil” theme, uses humor and wit in an attempt to effectively engage the player in the story and keep interest alive. A recurring example of this is found within the storyline of the Meccs who, though eager to help, often state their desire to be on their way to Majorca so that they might continue their heroic quest for women and pubs. The other campaigns use similar humor in progressing the story, though Kabuto’s campaign uses a somewhat abbreviated version as his vocabulary is limited to various roars.
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