Pandora's Box is not really evil
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1999. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
For Win9x/NT PC, Pentium 100, 16 meg ram, 100 mb drive
Maybe you learned the story of Pandora?s Box in
school?a classic Greek
myth, Pandora gets a locked chest from the Gods, with a warning not to
open it. What would you do? Of course! She opens it, releasing all the
evils that peril humanity, along with one blessing?Hope.
Microsoft?s Pandora?s Box opens with an opening of a
seven tricksters, who fly around the world wrecking havoc. Your job is
to travel the world, solving puzzles, to recapture the
reassemble Pandora?s Box and save the world.
Pandora?s Box is the latest creation from Alexey
Pajitnov. In the 1980s,
while still in Russia, Pajitnov created the classic game Tetris. Tetris
became such a craze that it was suggested that it was deliberately
to the West by the Soviet KGB, so that computer users would waste
time playing it to sap business productivity.
Pajitnov followed his game west, but his follow-ups on
the Tetris theme,
games like WordTris and Faces were nowhere near the mega-hit of the
Since 1996, Pajitnov has been working to develop a series of puzzle
for Microsoft, starting with 1997?s Microsoft Entertainment Pack:
The Puzzle Collection.
Pandora?s Box includes over 350 puzzles of ten
different 2D and 3D types,
most of which, like Tetris, involve moving pieces through
how they?ll look when twisted or turned in some way. While Tetris was
with the low power of its era?s PCs, Pandora?s Box uses all the
smarts of modern computers?the screens and puzzles are absolutely
This is not a game that everyone will warm to? there?s
no action, no
bloodshed. Puzzle fans of all ages, however, will probably find
addicted. Puzzles start easy, but get harder?the better to hook the
in. Experienced users can jump right to their preferred puzzle type,
new players will appreciate the chance to work with a practice version
before having to do one ?for real?.
The puzzles are grouped by geography?to capture a
Trickster, a player
has to travel to a location and solve puzzles to locate a clue. When
most puzzles turn into a photo-quality image of a landmark or a
site at that location. (The images, from the Corbis collection, one of
Bill Gates? non-Microsoft acquisitions, give this game a rare sense of
Some players who otherwise have little patience for
will find themselves hooked here, where the puzzles are steps along the
way towards winning the game?similarly, they may prefer to play in
mode against another player or family member.
Pandora?s Box is a nice, non-violent, family-oriented
game. I don?t
expect it to turn into a Tetris-sized hit, but Pajitnov and Microsoft
done well with this one.
If you?re not sure whether this one?s for you, check
out the 16 meg
trial version, with a sampling of the puzzle types or the 3 meg
free at: http://www.microsoft.com/games/pandorasbox/