The Super Solvers: Challenge of the Ancient Empires! wiki last edited by 2ale9 on 08/10/13 11:38PM View full history

Overview

Challenge of the Ancient Empires is an entry in the Super Solver series developed by the Learning Company for PC in the early 90s. As with all titles in the series, Ancient Empires (as it is commonly called) is an educational game that makes use of 2D arcade style gameplay. This particular game explores history and problem solving. The player is required to navigate a series of caverns, each containing four Chambers with puzzles. While calling it an inspiration to the Tomb Raider series would be a stretch, it does have similar elements, themes, and motivations in gameplay.

While focusing on history, the game does show elements of antiquarianism, an early form of archaeology that focused on rare and often priceless artifacts, similar to the exploits of Indiana Jones. This paradigm of thought is considered outdated and narrow minded by modern archaeologists. The game also tends to mash together cultures that are often irrelevant to each other and historical inaccurate (for example, India and China are lumped together in one cavern).

Gameplay

Challenge of the Ancient Empires initially consists of 4 main caverns, eached themed to a particular ancient civilization. Each cavern is divided into four levels (described as Chambers). The player must recover artifacts from the particular civilizations to advance to the next Chamber. Upon completeion of all four caverns, a fifth cavern ("The Ancient World") opens up this one also containing 4 Chambers. Each Chamber, however takes the theme of a specific civilization previously encountered, making use of all puzzle mechanics from the previous four caverns.

The four initial caverns are: Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and India and China. Each type of cavern focuses on a specific type of puzzle. The Near East cavern uses switches that move blocks, the Egypt cavern requires manipulation of light through reflectors, the Greece and Rome cavern uses gongs that must be touched in an order specified by Greek letters, and the India and China cavern requires the player to traverse conveyor belts that can change direction.

Aside from puzzles, there is a variety of creatures that will damage a player. Some can use projectiles and some can fly. Most are creatures often found in caves, such as bats and snakes, while other are fanciful, such as the Pegasus Frog. While they can damage the player, often they can be recruited to aid in solving a puzzle.

The player has three special abilities at his or her disposal. The first is a miner's hat that can be used to solve puzzles and to temporarily stun creatures. The second is a pair of jump boots that allow for higher jumping. The final is a set of four force fields that will temporarily prevent damage from creatures.

Once a player has collected pieces of an artifact, he or she must then complete a puzzle to reveal the artifact.

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