Primitive timewasters

The number of Israeli companies that produce their own software can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Habarnashim (The Dudes), a CD-ROM in Hebrew by Koplay Computer Games Studio, distributed by Atari Israel, requires Windows 98 and up, for children aged six and over, NIS 49.99. Rating: * Vampus 3D, a CD-ROM in English by Koplay Computer Games Studio, distributed by Atari-Israel, requires Windows 98 and up and a Pentium 4 PC, for ages 12 and over, NIS 129.99. Rating: * The number of Israeli companies that produce their own software can be counted on the fingers of one hand; other game firms import them as is, sometimes adding a Hebrew-language user's manual or dubbing into Hebrew games meant for young children. This column tries to encourage them because competing with the foreign "big boys" - such as EA Games, Atari and Microsoft - isn't easy. But these two programs - developed by a well-meaning new Jerusalem-based software company (a Google search produced nothing except its own site at - are awful! The mind boggles when trying to understand why Atari-Israel, which generally deals with high-quality software, decided to distribute these products. Dudes is described on its Web site as "a unique and brilliant logic game... specially designed to arouse the player's thinking and problem solving techniques. The goal of the game is to contemplate a solution to interesting riddles, in order to move along to a higher level." Koplay's CEO, we are told, is "Mr. Chen Kopel, a young and dynamic programmer with large (sic) experience in the field... We emphasize our programming skills into creating new games to provide fun and excitement to all." But sadly, Dudes is merely a primitive and boring arcade game on the level produced 10 or 15 years ago. Vampus 3D is said by the company to be "a logic and strategic board game. The games concept is based on the AI 'problem of the agent': How to reach the exit point when every room has a hint about the next room content." But I would have to use the words raw, crude, backward, rudimentary and antediluvian to portray this game. Not only does the Web site suffer from mangled English, but the games themselves do as well. Dudes begins badly with an opening screen that says "All rights reseved (sic)" and has a prominent yellow sign saying: "Electricity is a vengeful bitch who is not to be trifled with." Vampus writes on the screen in black and white: "... reviles its content" instead of "reveals" and "apple... pair" instead of "apple... pear." Dudes stars a grandfather with a cane, a medium-dude surfboarder and a "Little Dude" that the gamer maneuvers using arrow keys; the mouse doesn't function at all. The cane can be thrown at switches to turn them on, and the surfboard may help the medium dude float to avoid falling on spikes and losing a life. Although the written instructions are in Hebrew, some of the oral statements are, oddly, in French (Viol ") or English ("Is there anybody out there, man?"). The trio must reach the end of each level together and alive - but after an hour of this, I preferred to let them commit Japanese hara- kiri on the spikes. Vampus, no less awful, presents a 64-square "chess board," each square representing a room, we are told, with "a possible threat or treat in it." The four heroes are Moradar (a warrior); Magadol (a sorcerer); Sheska (an Amazon who casts spells and swordfights but is the ugliest woman ever to wear a bikini); and Gimme (a goblin). All of them wave their swords so slowly that it looks like an exercise class for octogenarians. When Sheska changes into a black bikini to become a "Dark Amazon," her most clever statement is: "I can smell your fear!" Among the bugs are moves in the opposite direction that you click. The only good thing I can say about these programs is that they are not bloody. Gimme a break, Koplay, and go back to the drawing board.