A Venetian Rescue Operation 

The recent deluge of rain and floods, at least at the time of writing, does seem to be the ideal opportunity for getting in the mood for a trip to Venice

Well known for its mosaics, churches, the Bridge of Sighs, canals and gondolas, Venice is now the chosen location for a new game developed by Retro64 and available from PopcapVenice Deluxe is described as a puzzle-powered retro action game set among the water thoroughfares of Italy's famed city.

Your task is to save Venice from sinking into a watery grave.  The job is achieved by taking part in four different game modes.  While you can play the Journey mode immediately, progress has to be made in the journey before you can access the other modes of Flood, Trick Shot and Survival.

For reasons best known to the game's developers, the only way to save

Venice is by returning its lost treasures to the appropriate locations in various buildings.  This does not involve searching for the items of treasure and wandering along dusty corridors to find where the various items need to be placed.  Instead it is more like a shooting gallery with revolving targets that contain easily recognisable slots to hold the various items.

Set against a backdrop of Venetian buildings with water lapping at the foundations, you control a launcher, in the shape of a gondola, positioned at the bottom of the screen.  Using the mouse you can move left and right; switch between the current two items of treasure; before launching one upwards towards its designated slot.  Both accuracy and timing is important although you can use parts of the scenery to bounce the item of treasure in order to avoid obstacles blocking any line-of-sight path. 

Once all the slots in a particular target are filled, it will disappear and you can move on to the next target on that level.  The targets come in a variety of shapes that include circles, X-shapes, bars and T-shapes while the treasures are made up of keys, hearts, coins, rings, vases, stars and, towards the latter stages, lyres.  The shape of the treasure will have an effect on the way it responses to any collision with other objects.

As mentioned earlier, the game does include a number of obstacles to make your task more interesting although some obstacles can be used to help bounce treasures around other obstructions.  Among the obstacles featured are locks, bumpers, chutes, baskets, shelves and teleports (not exactly sure how this last item relates to the traditional image of Venice but then anything is possible in a game).  To help balance the effect of obstacles, there are also power-ups that can be caught and provide your gondola with wings; summon Cupid; provide a power, combo or trick shot; and raise the current building out of the water.

Journey is the game's basic play mode and consists of eight neighbourhoods each with nine levels.  While the buildings do not actually sink, the treasures will.  You have to make sure they do not.  If you loose three treasures on a level then you have failed.  Flood is more time orientated as the buildings do sink and you must return all the treasures as quickly as possible before that happens.  Trick Shot involves setting up a one-shot sequence to fill all open slots while Survival, as its name implies, sets you the task of returning as many items of treasure as possible before the building sinks into the water.

Venice Deluxe is not a game that is going to hold your attention for long periods.  Instead it is the type of game you will play for short periods of relaxation.  The game can be downloaded for a free trial period before you need to decide whether to pay the £14.95 and register the product.  System requirements for the game are a Pentium 500MHz with 256MB RAM, DirectX7, Internet connection (for downloading and registering) running Windows 98 and later.

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