Sancho Panza is just an average guy. He works hard all day, and then comes home to his nagging wife. His children torment each other; he has stinky feet, enjoys drinking wine and keeps creepy-crawly pets. In other words, he lives a simple, average life. Simple, that is, until Don Quijote asks Sancho to be his squire. Unlike the practical Sancho, Don Quijote is a romantic dreamer, who wishes to revive the lost art of "knight's-errant." In other words, he wants to run around the country, exploring castles (the local inns) and saving princesses (bar maids.)
With the rustic point-and-click adventure game, Sancho's Island, you have the opportunity to accompany Sancho and Don Quijote on their adventures—if you can help Sancho straighten out his family matters and prepare for the quest. You may even win an isle to rule, even though Sancho isn't sure what that is.
Enter a 17th century Spanish village, accompanied by soft music. As you watch Sancho argue with his wife, you may not even realize you are experiencing classic literature. The story, Don Quijote, written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is considered by some to be the first modern novel.
Both the novel and the game mix a bit of adventure and satire, reflecting real life, rather than some idealistic image. Tales of chivalry were quite popular in Cervantes' day. In these tales, knights were always shining, and maidens were always beautiful. "Don Quijote," on the other hand, mocked and defied these shallow stereotypes. In the novel, Don Quijote and Sancho influence each other over time. Eventually, Sancho becomes more idealistic, and Don Quijote becomes more practical. The creators of Sancho's Island, Omepet, seem to grasp this. Even in the first chapter, Sancho, while skeptical, is won over by Quijote's enthusiasm.
The style of the game is quite comfortable. Walk around, talk to people, and explore everything. Clickable objects are usually prominent, and are named as you mouse over them. You are given a number of options for manipulating objects, (or people,) such as push, pull, talk to, open, and look at. These options often work together in surprising (yet logical) combinations. While some of the conversations ramble on, most of the puzzles are easily solvable, offering a casual experience that can be shared by readers and gamers of all ages.
Like the novel, the game has been translated into English from Spanish, leaving some of the wording a bit awkward at times. Rather than detracting from the game, however, this seems to add to its charm. But, for any glossophiles (language-lovers) out there, you might find the Spanish version of the game, to be more eloquent. (Unfortunately, I have to stick with the English version; according to a friend of mine, I can't even properly pronounce "Quijote" or "Sancho Panza.")
As a fun and unique touch, the designers have even included a bloopers section.
One note: In order to save the game, you must register with the site. This requires you to enter your e-mail address and choose a password. I would recommend this option, as the game can run somewhat long, and there are more chapters to come. According to the creators, it is the "longest online graphic adventure ever developed" and boasts an "estimated duration of 60 hours through 9 chapters." They have some way to go, however, as chapter two was just released on December 15th.
Also, if you enjoy playing Sancho's Island, and feel like reading "Don Quijote" for yourself, the entire text is available online, free from project Gutenberg.
For now, enjoy Sancho's Island, but hurry... Sancho's wife, Teserona, is waiting, and she has a short temper.
Update: The game is no longer available to play. Previously tagged as: adventure, browser, flash, free, game, macwinlinux, narrative, omepet, pointandclick, rating-g