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  Title: Return to Wonderland
  Platform: PC  
  Genre: Puzzle  
  Developer: Midnight Synergy  
  Publisher:   Midnight Synergy  
  ESRB Rating:   N/A  
P 200 MHz; 32 MB RAM; 8 MB video card; 25 MB hard disk space.
P II 300 MHz; 64 MB RAM; 16 MB video card.
  Addictive gameplay; challenging; atmospheric music and sound; level editor.
Level editor is somewhat clunky, will take a while to make a good level.
Final Rating:
  Learn More About our Ratings


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Written by Jeff Dalton
May 6th, 2004

About a year ago I preached on the merits of gameplay versus graphics when I reviewed the original Wonderland game by Midnight Synergy (click here for the scoop on it and the company that produced it).

Making an expansion to a game can be a tricky affair. The basic premise is simple: A company wants to take an existing popular game and add some additional flavour by improving upon the original design with new elements, thereby breathing life back into an old favourite. The actual execution of these improvements isn't as simple. Some companies make minor changes. They fix some outstanding bugs and drop in a few extra levels or additional multiplayer support. The industry has also seen expansions of tremendous scope, and patches like those by Blizzard, that almost seem to spawn a new game from the old one. Midnight Synergy has taken it upon themselves to expand upon the original Wonderland idea, and they have done a remarkable job by remembering to stay true to the original.

Welcome back!
Beware, this is a hostile environment
Space isn't a very friendly place...

Once you get your hands on the full version ($19.95 USD), the installation and start-up of this game is simple: Just install and go. The great thing here is that Return to Wonderland is a standalone expansion. There is no need to have the original installed, and no need to dig up your old saved game (if you played the first, and I hope you did) to open up the new levels. The game does assume knowledge of the first Wonderland, but there is still a short "getting back into the swing of things" world for new and old players alike.

...and neither is the space underground
One of the new colourful worlds
About to get smoked by the firing squad

Return to Wonderland doesn't waste any time; it starts throwing new elements at you from the beginning, and it doesn't stop. Included are 100 new levels, over 10 new worlds for players to muddle over, and an "unlock all worlds" feature to let players roam where they please. The beauty of the game is that on a gameplay level, it hasn't changed; you don't need to collect anything different. The enjoyment of the game is in experiencing a whole new set of puzzles in the same enjoyable atmosphere of the first game. Midnight Synergy has only tinkered with the environment on a technical level. They seem to have fixed the alt-tabbing problem I experienced in the original and have a windowed mode for those who don't want to play in fullscreen. Similarly, they have fixed the small audio bugs noted in my previous review. The same soundtrack is back, along with some new music and sounds, and it's still infectious. If you were humming the melodies of the first game, you won't be disappointed here either.


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