SKYBORG: INTO THE VORTEX
by Gary Hartman

Published January 1997 (PC Register)

Skyborg: Into the Vortex is a futuristic graphics adventure game from Skybox (the well-known trading card company). It is "The world?s first CD-ROM/card crossover". Let's hope it's the last.

Skyborg is a CD-ROM product for both MPC (i.e., IBM) and Mac on a single CD. A 10-page pamphlet is included, along with a sheet of updated installation instructions. Also included in the box are three packs (18 cards total) of Skyborg trading cards. Skyborg was a snap to install and ran without any glitches.

In the game, you are the Skyborg. The objective is to find and rescue Dr. Barton from his kidnapper(s) and escape. Along the way you will visit nine varied worlds, each of which has things needed to complete the game. While wandering around, you will encounter 95 characters in the form of cards, some of which are on walls or posters; many of the character cards are just standing around for you to walk up and acquire tools, knowledge, and weapons from them, a very unrealistic and unbelievable concept. There are several times in the game when you have to battle a "sentinel" (robot) in an action sequence (it's easy to die here).

Overall, the graphics in Skyborg are not particularly outstanding, although some of the animations are actually quite good (the equipment repair/morphing sequence is pretty cool). Most of the graphics are static pictures with scattered hot-spots. There is quite a bit of text to read, which comes across as notes found or electronic messages received by Skyborg; these latter messages are printed on the screen in tiny letters and are difficult to read without getting close to the monitor. The audio has its moments, although the voice of Skyborg's nemesis, the evil Morb, comes across as very amateurish and grating; the original soundtrack and music is provided by the band Primal Future.

I'm no whiz at adventure games and puzzles. However, I found the solutions to many of the puzzles to be somewhat bizarre, even with the aid of a game walkthrough gleaned from the Internet. I doubt if I would ever have been able to get very far in Skyborg without the aid of this walkthrough.

Bottom Line:  The idea of a combination trading-card/CD-ROM game must have appealed to someone at Skybox, but it doesn?t work well as a game. The real problem is that Skyborg quickly fades into a tedious and frustrating gaming experience, and it is simply just not very much fun. Don't waste your time or hard-earned money on this one.

System Tested On:  IBM-compatible PC with a 133Mhz Pentium; Windows 95; 64-bit PCI-bus video card; 32 Mb of RAM; 8x CD-ROM drive; mouse

Minimum System:  Multimedia PC or compatible with 486SX or higher processor; 8 MB RAM; 4 MB hard drive space; CD-ROM drive with a minimum 250K/sec transfer rate; 8-bit sound board; VGA+ or higher (256 color support) monitor and video card; MS-DOS 5.0 or later/ MS-Windows 3.1 or later; MS-mouse or compatible pointing device

Skyborg is available for $32.95; Skybox International, Inc., Durham, North Carolina  27702



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