For a few days, perhaps a decade ago, I got to play a game on my sister’s mac called ‘The Sacred Mirror of Kofun.’ I loved it.
You played the role of a diver/explorer on Jacques Cousteau’s son’s ship, and you sail around the Japanese islands, diving and exploring islands (environments assembled using real photos of the islands and waters) identifying wrecked ships and planes, taking photos of sealife and cataloging it later aboard your ship with the aid of a Max Headroom-like AI.
Instead of sleeping last night, I mercilessly googled for this game without remembering the name of it. It took forever, but I finally recognized the title. Then it was time to find an ISO of it. …No luck. I did find a demo though! A demo whose host had gotten rid of it some time ago.
But, triumphant at last, I managed to snag the demo from a Russian website.
Good old Google Translate got me where I needed to be to actually download it. I played the demo, and it’s as neat as I remember…though the demo is terribly limited. It lets you explore an island, but doesn’t let you do any diving.
Part of the fun of the game is doing research with the AI’s help. You take photos of a site, then upload them to the computer. The AI analyzes the photos, scans for markings, text, and codes, then feeds you back keywords to search for on the game’s ‘worldnet.’ Sometimes you have to string keywords together to get the result you want. You may uncover other documents that need analyzed, or simply encyclopedic information you can add to your personal encyclopedia.
The game is educational, beautiful if not very dynamic (think Myst) and I believe it was one of the first games to make good use of Quicktime. (The version that came with the demo doesn’t recognize the modern quicktime, unsurprisingly, and forces you to install the old one to play.)
If you want to try it yourself and you’re willing to wade through some Russian and wait quite awhile for your place in line, you can grab it from http://www.ag.ru/files/demos/sacred_mirror_of_kofun/4764/agb