ECO, OR: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE EVOLUTIONARY THEORY
by Richard Karsmakers
At had been a stormy night, and Charles had a headache when he
came on deck and started searching for Fitzroy, captain of the
warship "Beagle". That darned Henslow had talked him in to going
on this trip and he had regretted it more than once: Also right
on this moment. It was September 15th 1835, and he still wasn't
used to the dayly routine aboard this ship that he now had been
on for almost four years. Ah, there was Fitzroy.
"Good morning, Robert!" Charles yelled to get the man's
"Good afternoon, I'd almost say, old chum!" Fitzroy replied.
"Been looking at my fossils, again?" Darwin could see the
disturbed look in the captain's eyes. Being brought up with the
creational story, it was kinda hard for someone like Fitzroy to
explain the existence of the fossils they found in South America.
Fitzroy nodded. "It sure is peculiar that these creatures have
once roamed on our earth. I still cannot grasp it, Charles."
Nor could Charles, but he would soon know everything there was
to know. He'd just have to be patient.
The next day, Charles was awake much earlier, and his headache
had gone, too. "Today, I'm gonna change the world", he thought to
himself when he yawned and cursed at his beard that was once
again stuck between two planks of his bunk. He could not know
that his careless statement was only just too true.
"Land in sight!" someone screamed. Darwin startled, thereby
accidentally loosening his beard to great agony of his skin.
Cursing four-lettered words, he went on deck and took a deep
breath. The Galapagos Islands...
Darwin could already see the extravagant fauna as he approached
the isles in his small rowing boat. He had left the others aboard
the "Beagle", as he knew that they would only disturb him in his
filoso-biologic thoughts and the theories he was trying to
match together. It all seemed like a big puzzle to him (he would
have thought about "Jigsaw puzzle" if those would have existed
back then, but he didn't now). Where did the South American
fossils fit in? Could animals change their appearance during the
course of centuries of even longer eras?
His eyes were heavily occupied as he saw the diverse animals on
these seemingly dead and remote islands. He saw about a dozen
finches that he had never seen before. Each had its own peculiar
form of bill, and he wondered why they would have such various
shapes. He took out his sketchbook and started drawing. "I will
call them Darwin finches!" he thought aloud.
His words were not yet faded away when the sky became troubled
with heavy clouds. Some of the iguanas seeked shelter, and the
finches flew away. This strange human had seen enough of them. He
would have to think of the puzzle himself, a puzzle to which they
had just added a piece. Charles looked up and knew he was going
to be wet if he didn't start doing what the iguanas did pretty
soon. To his luck, fate had made sure that there was a small
cavern nearby and he decided to run for shelter as heaven opened
its taps and started making everything wet through.
After he had regained his breath, Charles started exploring the
back of the small cave. Who knows, he might find some additional
fossils! But what he found left him in mere amazement: Hidden
behind a boulder and partly covered with sand and dust, he saw a
large cube with a glass front, and a smaller flat lightgrey thing
with smaller cubes on it. "QWERTY", Charles read to himself as he
studied the small cubes. He blew away some of the dust and
discovered a name on the right of the plank and read again:
"Atari....1040 ST?!". Having had the privilege of seeing a
typewriter in his teens, Charles immediately saw the striking
resemblance of the plank and the typewriter. "It must be a
keyboard, but where must I fit the paper?", he thought aloud.
He investigated further, and found some small quadrangled, flat
objects near the device. He took his notepad and wrote down:
"September 16th, year of our Lord 1835. I have just sought
shelter in a nearby cavern and I have found something utterly
weird, accompanied by a large cube with a glass front and several
small and flat objects that seem to be....." he did an estimated
guess..." 3½ inch in width. I will investigate farther!" He
closed his notebook and did what he had just written down.
He touched the glass of the cube, and tried to look in it.
Nothing could be recognized; it was just pitch black. Suddenly,
lightning and thunder roared across the sky. Charles jumped back
as the glass front just as sudden went white and a small red
light started glowing on the device that he concluded to have
been made by a member called Atari of an ancient civilisation.
After a few seconds, Charles heard music. He closed his eyes and
thought: "Is this heaven? Am I dead? Is this music of angles?"
When he opened his eyes he could not see Saint Peter, any angles,
and not even his deceased stephmother, but he did see the cave
and an image that had appeared on the monitor. "ECO," he read
aloud (reading aloud as well as thinking aloud used to be one of
good ol' Charles' nasty habits, but it increases the readability
of this novella), "...the contest of evolution...a game of
survival...survival of the fittest..." He did not dare to touch
anything and wrote down what he saw; "Is this wizardry? Is this
some spell of old that tries to help me to complete my puzzle?"
He closed his book in mere amazement as the screen switched and
the cube started emitting sounds and showing an animated sequence
(Darwin must have stumbled into a version containing an automatic
demo mode...). He saw a spider feeding, multiplying itself and
grow different by means of gene manipulation.
"That's it!" Charles thought (aloud). "Species can manipulate
their genes by pure coincidence...bla bla bla " (I will not let
you be witness of the whole speech he gave, but it included terms
like 'evolution', 'mutation', 'survival' and the like). Charles
rushed back to his rowing boat, just in time to escape the
lightning smashing the cavern to bits. "Damn!", he thought. "Who
will now believe me?" Right he was. Pity he couldn't stay there
any longer. If he would have done that, he would also have been
able to come with DNA structure theories and the lot, theories
for which human civilisation now had to wait some more decades to
be found out.
Darwin had to think and contemplate until 1859 before he could
get the courage to publish his theories (that's the official
reason; well informed sources told that he needed all that time
to formulate everything he was tought by the wizard-machine). He
wrote it down and called his book "On the Origin of Species by
means of Natural Selection". Actually, a term pinched from the
Published by the British software company Ocean, "ECO" is a game
of survival. Packed with good graphics and (MIDI compatible)
sound, the program takes you back along the millions of years
that have passed since the beginning of evolution. Starting as an
insect, it is the player's task to evolve the creatures up to an
existance as a human being. All he has to do is to find food and
to find a mate of the same approximate DNA structure. Once a mate
is found, he can change the DNA structure, thus gradually being
able to change more and more and climb onto all steps of man's
I know it sounds very educational, but the smoothly animated
graphics, an almost 'evolutio-mystical' color palette and the
playability make it a game that's plain fun to play. Once you've
taken hold of the controlling conventions, it's not difficult to
perform the required tasks. Some suspence and science is included
in a perfect unison, thus creating a game that is very original.
Never seen anything like it before.
Authors: Colin, Stoo, Fred
Value for Money: 7
Overall rating: 7.5
Price: 69.50 Dutch Guilders
Remark: Very nice, but nothing more
Thanks to Mr. Harry van Horen of Homesoft, Haarlem, for the
WIZBALL by Richard Karsmakers
Once upon a time, there was a world where people and other
creatures lived as happy as could be. Everybody was happy and
everything was vividly coloured in all colours ever found to be
present in the one and only rainbow (not the hard rock band, but
the natural phenomenon). One of the many inhabitants of this
world (called Wizworld, by the way) was a peremetarian called Wiz
and his amazing cat. He was there when he saw the malevolent
forced of evil Zark and his horrendous sprites take away all
brilliance of Wizworld and render all landscapes drab and grey.
His poor old mum (being widowed some years earlier, but that
falls outside this story) had died that very same instant, not
being able to stand the loss of colours in her surroundings. Wiz
had sworn on the grave of his old mother that he would seek
revenge. The end was near; Wiz' legions of death were ready for
the attack. He and the catelites had only one aim: Total
regaining of all brightness in Wizworld!
The man behind best-selling arcade conversion "Arkanoid", Peter
Johnson, had us wait far too long a time before he was finally
able to finish his latest ST game: "Wizball". Being the
peremetarian leading character in the above story, the player has
to regain all three colours in every level (there are five of
those). Colors have to be collected using a freshly trained
catelite that can be gained by activating a certain bonus (a
bonus can be gained or collected each time a horde of Zark's
sprites is destroyed) and the player has to bring back the colors
by taking the appropriate quantities of red, green and blue paint
The setup is highly original, and Sensible Software (the
designers) have packed it in a neat computer game that's fun to
play and that can also be played with two players (being a team
or competitors). The graphics are very good and the scrolling
(horizontal) is quite smooth. Wizball controls have to get used
to, but once that's done the game is amazingly playable. In fact,
you just have to know when to activate which bonuses.
The music is clearly inferior to the Commodore 64 (Martin
Galway) version, but quite good considering the ST's soundchip
Author: Peter Johnson
Value for Money: 8
Price: 69.50 Dutch Guilders
Overall rating: 8.5
Remark: Original concept. Nice to play.
Many thanks have to go to Mr. Harry van Horen from Homesoft
(Haarlem, The Netherlands) who sent the review program. I'm glad
he did, because Ocean promises a lot, but......
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.