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PC Gamer Retrospective Review - Fountain of Dreams

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PC Gamer Retrospective Review - Fountain of Dreams

Review - posted by Infinitron on Sat 20 September 2014, 15:24:36

Tags: Electronic Arts; Fountain of Dreams

Yesterday saw the release of Wasteland 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 1988 Interplay classic. What many people don't know, however, is that the original Wasteland's publisher, Electronic Arts, tried to release their own Wasteland sequel back in 1990. I say "tried", because what we got instead was Fountain of Dreams, a suspiciously similar-looking non-sequel set in post-apocalyptic Florida. Today, Richard Cobbett, mainstream gaming journalism's official authority on oldschool games, has published a retrospective review of this best-forgotten title over at PC Gamer, as part of his amusing Saturday Crapshoot weekly feature. The article's introduction should make it clear what sort of game Fountain of Dreams was:

So, this week saw the long-awaited release of Wasteland 2, where 'long awaited' is measured more in decades than the couple of years that it's been in development. Luckily, it's good. It's very good. Depending on who you ask though, there already was a sequel to Wasteland, only a year or so after the first one came out. Now, to be clear, the list of people who will tell you that is very small indeed. Not the original Wasteland team, which didn't work on it, not Wasteland fans, who generally try to forget it, and not even publisher EA, which originally did tried to hold it up as a proper sequel, but was apparently convinced of its folly after three ghosts showed up to slap some goddamn sense into it.

Despite that though, the lineage is obvious, and you'd think the thirst for a new Wasteland game would make anything even inspired by it worth a little hardcore fan fondness. How bad could it be that it was politely carved out of history almost as soon as it landed? Well, let's find out!

Though I think we can assume the answer is "Very, very bad."

Fountain Of Dreams takes place in post-apocalyptic Florida, so that's at least a bit different, some fifty years after nuclear strikes carved it off from the mainland. Nobody knows if any life still exists on the mainland or beyond, but all attempts to find out lead to quick death from the contaminated sea all around or the vicious monsters that pick off what radiation can't immediately destroy. Over the last 50 years, that's meant the major cities withdrawing into themselves and becoming city states, people increasingly mutating due to exposure to all the nasty stuff in the air and underfoot, and vicious gangs rising up in the wilderness to threaten adventurers and give everyone a damn good reason to stay home.

Or, to put it another way, "This world is crazy. Too bad you're sane."

As a starting point then, that all seems pretty solid. It's a world like Wasteland, but with its own distinct area and theme, tapping into much the same ideas but with more of a focus on human threats than wandering monsters given a radiation-powered kick up the food chain. I don't see what could possibly go-

Huh. I was expecting a goofy screenshot to appear there. A kind of ironic cut-in of sorts, taking that obvious feed line and presenting a big picture summing up the stupidity of the game in one easily digested collection of pixels, as if-


Killer Clowns. Yes, there's about a 90% shot that having created a party and set out on your quest, the first thing that you'll see is a gang of murderous clowns popping up and pretty much killing you dead with no more effort than throwing a custard pie. It's not like Wasteland played things straight, but there's a difference between having a tongue-in-cheek apocalypse where occasionally you face off against giant rabbits or murder children for their BB guns and outright making an army of killer clowns your equivalent of the NCR or Caesar's Legion - not on occasional gag monster, but a major power base whose ground troops are no laughing matter, and which controls much of the known world.
It's not just the wackiness of the setting, though. You'll have to read the full review to understand the full depths of Fountain of Dreams' lunacy. If you're interested in additional not-Wasteland historical curiosities, you might also want to check out Richard's retrospective of Escape From Hell, another obscure EA RPG that used the Wasteland engine (or at least looked like it). Have I mentioned that it links to our beloved editor's Let's Play?

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