No matter how hard you try, you just can’t squeeze Paradise in your pocket.
Last King of Africa is actually a port of the PC point-and-click adventure Paradise. It’s not just the name that’s changed though, as the entire game has been cut down in order to fit on the iPhone. Unfortunately the parts that have been removed were what made the original game fun in the first place; namely it’s challenging puzzles and mysterious storyline. What’s left is an experience that feels very disjointed and far too simple.
Things start off when a plane crashes into a small village in Northern Africa. The only surviving passenger, a young woman named Ann Smith, has unfortunately lost her memory. All she knows is that she’s from Switzerland and that she needs to get back home. But doing so is easier said than done, as Ann first has to get permission from the Prince to leave town before she sets off on an epic journey to get back home, slowly regaining her memory along the way. The major problem with the iPhone version of the game is that huge chunks of the story have been removed, leaving only the bare skeleton of a plot to follow. The result is a dull and lifeless story that, because it’s missing so many details, is somewhat hard to follow.
The gameplay too has been changed quite a bit. Whereas the first game was a third-person adventure, letting you control Ann as she explores her environment, the iPhone version takes place from a first-person perspective and is much more limited. You’re given much less freedom to explore, as the game often restricts your movements, limiting you to a small portion of the location you’re in. The scenes are static and tiny icons reveal all the points that you can exit from. Really, moving through the game isn’t so much exploration, but instead feels like moving along a straightforward path.
Along with the simplified environments and movement, the puzzles have also been made much more accessible. A little too accessible, in fact. Instead of the challenging puzzles found in the PC version, those found in the portable version are much easier. Traditional, item-based adventure game puzzles are nowhere to be found, replaced with generic mini-games like sliding block puzzles. There’s even some light hidden object game action mixed in as well, though, again, it’s very simplistic. A few of the puzzles involve nothing more than finding four or five of the exact same object, most of which are incredibly easy to spot.
The developers did do an admirable job of recreating the look of the original game. Though obvious concessions have been made, the game still looks good. The CG cut-scenes are very impressive, and the various backgrounds, though devoid of any animation, are still full of detail.
But even though it looks similar, the cuts made to Last King of Africa make it a very different experience than the game it’s based on. It’s too simple to offer up any sort of a challenge, and the story has been stripped down so much that it’s really hard to care what happens. Unless you’re absolutely dying for a portable version of Paradise, there are far better adventure games in the App Store to spend your money on.