Toyland v1.0- by Mikael Engdahl

Toyland (JPG, 18.9k), a puzzle game for OS/2 very unlike many other games, has been out for (public) beta-testing for quite a while, and now, has at last been released as version 1.0. I had a look at the game this month.

In Toyland, you play the role of T(r)oy, who just like the other inhabitants of Toyland is a puppet, made of wood. He is, as a matter of fact, the only puppet left intact in Toyland; all the others were accidentally blown to pieces. It is your job to collect these pieces, the other puppets' limbs (wooden beads), so they can be reassembled.

Toyland doesn't directly fall into a special category, but the one game it reminded me of most is actually Lemmings. It consists of different levels that you have to complete to move on to the next. If you quit the game and then start it again, you'll automatically be back where you were before (at the same level). There is also a password for each level, so you can jump to the right level at once if you reinstall, for example.

The installation utility is IBM's install program which works fine, copying files to the directory you specify and creating an icon on your desktop, just as expected. The only question I have is whether this is really necessary with Toyland since it doesn't really do anything useful. It copies the game files, but you can just as well put them where you want when you unzip toyland.zip. It also creates an icon, but... well... this can be done manually too without much trouble.

Playing the Game

There are different "states" in Toyland, each with a number of levels that have to be completed before you can move on to the next state. In every state there are several objects that work or move in different ways (some are there to help you, others aren't). Somewhere in each level there is a bead lying around, and although the difficulty and difference varies a lot between levels, the object is always the same: collect the bead.

This may sound easy, and in some levels it isn't particularly hard. But beware, some of the later ones can be really challenging.

The States

There are some objects that are the same during the whole game, walls for example. They serve the simple purpose of preventing you from passing through. They cannot be moved, removed or crossed. Other consistent objects are the beads (one per level), and of course you (Troy).

Hobbes - (Holes or Balls Being Everywhere state) is the first state you will make your acquaintance with. Objects to contend with here are balls, holes, doors water puddles, arrows and keys. Balls can be pushed in any direction until they hit a wall or something else they can't pass. They cannot, however, be dragged so once you've pushed one into a corner it stays there. Balls can be pushed into holes, which allows you to pass over these holes (they can't be passed over otherwise).

Doors and keys are simple: keys open doors. Any key can open any door but each key can only be used once (and you can only "pick up" one key at a time). Water puddles and arrows are interesting; you "slip" over them (provided that there is nothing on the other side of the puddle or arrow (if this is the case, you come to a halt on the object). Balls can not be pushed over puddles but can be pushed along arrows (JPG, 7.2k).

Chess - (Chess Has Everyone Stimulated State) consists mostly of chess pieces (JPG, 17.8k) that have a bad habit of blocking your way. They have to be removed in one way or another to retrieve the bead. The different chess pieces (there are both black and white) move similarly to how they do in real chess games.

CPU - There is also a third state called CPU (Circuits Press U State), which is only available in the registered version. In this state you have to manipulate different buttons to move LEDs out of your way. Of course, all this is to get access to the precious bead.

Performance

I haven't encountered any problems (bugs) with Toyland, even the later betas were quite stable, although some people have reported sound problems (due to MMOS/2 -- the author reports that a new Sound Blaster driver released late in July may have fixed this problem). I haven't had any trouble with speed either, the game loads fast and runs just fine on my test machine (486 66Mhz, 16mb RAM). I have also tried it on a slightly older machine (386 40Mhz, 8mb RAM), and although the loading times are... well... not as good as they are on a slightly faster computer, performance is acceptable. Toyland supports both 256 and 65k colours, but naturally looks better in 65k.

Other Features

A small disadvantage to this game is that when you make a mistake (you push a ball into a corner, or waste a key or something), you often have to restart the level. The only way to get past this is to do a bit of thinking before you start a level instead of just throwing yourself into the game. There is actually an undo button, which remedies this to a certain point, but unfortunately it only works nine steps back. There is also a quicksave and quickload feature which saves your position in the current level.

An interesting feature of Toyland is the possibility to create your own levels, which after creation can be exported and used by other players (via e-mail!). This importing and exporting is only possible in the registered version (creating your own levels can be done even by unregistered players) but it has the potential to make the game infinitely playable, like level editors did for DOOM.

If you find it boring playing the game alone there is a multiplayer option. You can play with your friends, either competitively (first one who gets the bead wins) or cooperatively (helping each other, it doesn't matter who gets the bead first).

Conclusion

Toyland is shareware and costs US$25 (or 37 DM) to register, which gives you access to more states, more levels (104 total), special "finishing" levels, more game, more Toyland, more fun! On the whole, Toyland isn't perhaps that extraordinary, but it is a good shareware game, well worth its registration.
 * Toyland v1.0
by Rainald Menge
download from Toyland FTP Site (ZIP, 2.5meg)
Registration: US$25
Mikael Engdahl has been an OS/2 enthusiast since v2.0. In his spare time, when not studying, he likes playing (OS/2) games.

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