By Al Giovetti, 03/26/97
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
HistoryIn 1977, Spider Robinson published Callahan's Crosstime Saloon and has spent the last 20 years mostly writing a series of books on the concept of a bar on Route 25A in Suffolk County on Long Island where time travellers from all over the galaxy meet for a relaxing drink away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the universe and time. Patrons of the rather ordinary bar with time gates to the universe include vampires, aliens, and an occasional visit from the time police who prevent tampering in the time line, a plot not unlike the movie Time Cop and the series Time Trax.
Like Betrayal at Krondor that caught the attention of Raymond Feist, Spider Robinson was also caught up in the creation of this game. Spider called Josh Mandel often three or four times a week to help flesh out the plot and interactivity. Spider, who is also a professional musician, actually performs some of the music he composed for the game.
Josh Mandel used to work for Sierra, where he was responsible for Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist and Space Quest VI, arguably the best of the romps of the itinerant space janator, Roger Wilco. Who could forget the character of Bill Gates in the future nailing down his next deal for a little nip of the hard stuff. Josh Mandel was once a stand up comic and also has been a performing magician.
In 1992, Steve Jackson used the GURPs engine (Generic Universal Role Playing) to turn Callahan's Crosstime Saloon into a role playing game of the paper and pencil variety.
Game PlayThis is a graphic animated adventure with an inventory across the bottom of the screen and a window out into the world at the top. You navigate and activate areas of the screen with the mouse. You pick up multitudes of objects that combine with other objects or act alone to solve puzzles and advance the plot.
You traverse many lands including a south American jungle temple, outer space, and others. Another part of the game is the bar games section where you must make similies from a string of words, arrange beans in a line, and others.
Spider Robinson's concept of Earth is that it is an art exhibit for the benefit of the "Gods" of the universe. Gingranich, one of the gods who periodically reviews funding for places such as Earth, wanted to cancel the funding, but needed a beer first. Gingranich arrives at Callaghans and is taken on a series of adventures which delay his decision and eventually convince him that he needs to spend more time at Callaghans, where friendship and comraderie have a therapeutic effect.
You take the role of Jake Stonebender, the narrator of all the Crosstime Saloon stories. You lead Jake through a series of six adventures and solve many puzzles. Jake begins these adventures by talking to several of the people at the bar, which triggers the events that unfold.
One of the plots involves a Vampire named Pyotr who must be united with his lost love Sasha. Another plot involves an alien plot to rob human males of their testosterone. Another plot involves rescuing a time-traveling salesman from a contract to sell his sould for unwanted psychic powers.
Another plot involves finding rare cacao beans and using them to make a candy bar. Then you use the candy bar to convince a large corporate magnette into not destroying the rain forest for his corporation.
The last of six stories provides a final puzzle based upon the previous five stories.The gods Curator of Earth is always in the bar and provides advice on many of the adventures. The plots eventually come to a conclusion at the end of the game and there is some closure on the matter of the Earth. And like all good adventures, if you are successful, you save the Earth. If not, you might want to get a copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Another plot involves rescuing a talking dog from our government who intend to discover the dog's secret by vivisecting him.
Graphics involve the standard hand drawn two dimensional graphics that have been used in graphic animated adventures for some years now. Added to the mix are some very nice details that make the graphics a little more attractive including high resolution at 640 x 480 pixels and 16-bit color.
AnimationThe beginning cinematic animation is very interesting and subtile.
Multi-player FeaturesThere are no multi-player features.
Cheats, Hints, Walkthrough
ReferencesGreg Titus, Happy Puppy preview
Josh Mandel's Home Page
Another Spider Robinson Home Page with good detail
Spider Robinson's Home Page
Cindy Yan's Preview for Computer Games Strategy Plus
Glenn Broderick, Computer & Net Player, volume 3, number 11, April, 1997, pg. 68, 70%.
Daniel Morris, PC Games, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 92, 85%.
T. Liam McDonald, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 5, May, 1997, pg. 139, 86%.
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