In the middle nineties, Tsunami Media published and developed Return to Ringworld, the much improved sequel to their original Ringworld game. It is a third person perspective adventure game with a strong emphasis on puzzle solving as opposed to simple inventory collecting. It was released only for play on the personal computer, and was actually much better received by the critics than its predecessor. Like the original, it still has inspiration in Larry Niven’s “Known Space” series of science fiction novels.
It is a fully licensed title, and bears all of the same popular characters from the series. It is a point and click adventure game.
The story of Return to Ringworld picks up somewhat after the events of the original came to a close. Quinn, with is sidekicks Miranda Rees and Seeker of Veneance, was responsible for saving the puppeteer race and uncovering some very useful archaic technology. In this installment, the heroes realize that all of their actions were not necessarily well-received and end up returning to Ringworld to hide, as they have become wanted by all three of the major species of aliens. They know they can reveal evidence that will clear their names if they
look hard enough on Ringworld, but as they are doing so, they unwittingly uncover yet another plot that threatens to destroy peace in the universe. The U.N. General Carson Teal is trying to take over the universe by using the secrets he finds on Ringworld to his advantage.
Return to Ringworld is an enormous game that makes the first installment look like a pocket toy. There are hundreds of screens, plus multiple mazes that will take the gamer days to sort out. To make the game even more fun and interesting, as if the overall size was not enough, the gamer is able to play as all three of the major characters. There is also a vast amount of inventory available to locate and use, again adding to the large list of things to keep track of.
Return to Ringworld, partially because of its size, is considered to be a very difficult adventure game. The use of three characters in a single game can also be challenging. The depiction of the complex political drama that is featured in Niven’s books is also present, making the dialogue and actions sometimes a lot to digest. Still, the game is overall a satisfying play and will certainly appeal to fans of both the science fiction genre and the adventure game.