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Ben Jordan: Case 2:
The Lost Galleon of the Salton Sea
Developer:MonkeyGames Entertainment
(now Grundislav Games)
Publisher:Grundislav Games
Release Date:July 2006
Article Posted:2004
System Requirements

At 22, having just finished college, Ben Jordan realised that a life in the field of his degree – International Relations – was not what he wanted. Instead, and against the wishes of his family, he plunged into the world of paranormal investigation.

His first case called him out to the Florida Everglades, where the mysterious Skunk Ape was the suspected culprit behind five mutilated corpses. When Ben investigated, he discovered that there was more behind the deaths than random predation. His successful resolution (and survival) of the case earned him money on which to live and the start of a reputation for paranormal investigation.

As with Ben’s first case, a telephone call summons his aid. His caller this time is Annie, a woman living in the town of Dunesberg, California, calling on the paranomal investigator to find her husband George, who journeyed to the Salton Sea in search of a lost Spanish Galleon and has not returned.

Thus begins Ben’s second case as a paranormal investigator. Once he has gathered the local lore on the Lost Galleon and acquired medicine and bandages against poison or injury, Ben will travel out to the Salton sea himself, attempting to discover the fate of Annie’s husband...

This story, while still not one that I would likely recommend to the literary halls of fame, does improve over that of the first game in my opinion. Where Ben had little searching to do to uncover the Skunk Ape, he will face a greater challenge in discovering the Lost Galleon – not to mention in leaving it.

The graphics likewise improve over those of the previous game, especially in the quality of some of the backgrounds, although they are nevertheless still not of high quality to my eye. They are once again a flaw that holds this game back; while they could perhaps be worse, the game would, I daresay, benefit from an improvement in this area.

Once again the graphics are bettered by the music, which once again sets and supports the mood of the scenes well. One tune that particularly stands out in my mind is that used in The Drunken Scorpion, a bar in Dunesberg. This song struck me for being at the same time pleasantly odd (to my ear, at least) and appropriate to the atmosphere of the bar, and is, I feel, a very nice choice for inclusion in this game.

The interface is largely the same as that used in Ben Jordan Case 1, exclusively controlled via the mouse, aside from the typing of names for saved games. The player directs Ben’s actions via single clicks of the left mouse button, the nature of that action being primarily determined by the mouse cursor at the time. Once again there are four main cursors, indicating walking to a spot, using an object, looking at objects or places and talking to people, represented by cursors in the form of Ben in mid-stride, a pointing hand, an eye and a speech bubble containing an exclamation mark, respectively. These cursors can be selected via an icon bar at the top of the screen or by repeated clicks of the right mouse button, the latter of which causes the mouse cursor to cycle through its available options. The inventory is accessed via another icon on the icon bar, this one representing a pocket. When the inventory is opened, the player can examine or select any of the items available; selection of an item allows that item to be used, either within the inventory or in the game world at large, with the item’s image becoming a fifth mouse cursor (and one which also becomes available via right mouse clicks).

The one difference between the interfaces of this game and its predecessor is in the notepad. Where in Case 1 it was found in the inventory, and on examination produced a series of notes containing information that Ben had learned, Case 2 has given it an icon of its own on the icon bar, and on clicking it produces Ben’s notes in a single list on a large white backdrop. Unfortunately this feature is perhaps not used to its best effect, as important information does not seem to always be added to this notepad. Nevertheless, the notepad is a good idea that, with more information recorded in it, could potentially have been quite useful.

The puzzles in The Lost Galleon of the Salton Sea are on the whole fairly easy. They are mostly inventory based; as with Ben Jordan Case 1 some points are awarded for covering important topics with characters, but these conversations do not, to my mind, have the complexity to earn the appellation of “puzzles”. The puzzles do, however, improve on those found in the previous game in terms of quality I feel, with a few that I additionally enjoyed for being a little odd (such as a rather interesting idea for correcting Ben’s poor aim with a thrown knife).

On the negative side, there was one item that I found to be a little inobvious, and one area exit that I didn’t notice at first; however, most of the objects and exits should be fairly easy to spot (extremely so in the case of a particular snow globe...) Additionally, some of the objects and characters seems a little arbitrarily (and conveniently) placed to my mind.

In conclusion, Ben Jordan Case 2: The Lost Galleon of the Salton Sea is an improvement on its predecessor. The graphics seem to have improved a little, the puzzles have become more interesting, and the music retains its quality. In addition, while it is still not very long, this game is longer and a little more complex than the last, overall providing, in my opinion, a more satisfactory experience. As with the first in the series, this game might best be viewed as the second half of an introduction to Ben Jordan and his world, in which the series starts to come into its own, and in which the eponymous paranormal investigator proves himself ready for the trials of his third case. Case 2 certainly has its flaws, but these are, in my opinion, easier to overlook than in Case 1.

The game is free, and at nearly 9MB it is a reasonable download, even for those of us still using dial-up connections. While not a game that I would recommend without reservation, I would suggest it to those intending to play the rest of the series.

Overall Score: 69/100


PC System Requirements:
Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium® III 800 Mhz
64 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible Video Card
DirectX® 9 Compatible Sound Card
16x CD-ROM Drive
Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers