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Video Game / Rama

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Besides being the "father" of satellite communications, Arthur C. Clarke has the particularity of being one of the most popular science-fiction writers of the 20th century. His novel 2001: A Space Odyssey brought to Hollywood by director Stanley Kubrick in 1968, encountered tremendous success from the public, which, with the long series of science-fiction books he published later, raised the reputation of Clarke to a worldwide awareness. Developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra and inspired by the series of the same name, Rama is the first game based on Clarke's work. The series started with Rendezvous with Rama and today contains three additional titles co-written in a period of ten years by Gentry Lee, Clarke's friend and an ex-NASA engineer. Lee is the person responsible for the idea to create a game that would propel players into the mystical universe of Rama. With the help and contribution of Clarke himself, the Rama project became a reality and is now available as an adventure game that is truly captivating.

Rama is the name given to a huge cylindrical space ship that one day entered into our solar system. Even though the time is 200 hundred years in the future ahead of our time, there have been no contacts with extraterrestrial life yet. For many, Rama represented the only hope to establish contact with another intelligent life form. For this purpose, a multi-disciplinary team was organized and intensely trained to be ready for the exploration of the city-size vessel. Still, when the date of the departure arrived, none of the team's members were prepared for the amazing encounters they would make in Rama, nor the fascinating world they would explore. The International Space Agency (ISA) did not plan for you to become a part of the mission, but the brutal and mysterious death of the mission commander Valeriy Borzov made it necessary for you to be sent as a replacement astronaut to join the crew on Rama. When looking through the window of your ship as it was approaching the enormous black structure of Rama, you wondered what would await you in Rama. Somehow, you hoped you would find an answer to the essential questions you kept asking yourself. Why was it sent, and by who?


This game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The bottom level of the Avians' domain reveals The Myrmicats' lair, which suffered a minor cave-in and a massive fire that possibly killed the inhabitants long ago. It's also home to a set of caustic swimming pools, one of which has to be drained for the player to reach an item safely.
  • Adapted Out: Janos Tabori and Hiro Yamanaka although the two characters are said to be present in some unseen capacity. Another character explains the reason for this in-Universe. This game already had an impressively large cast for its time. And it would have been cost prohibitive to cast more actors.
  • Alien Geometries: There's a sense of this, the interior of Rama using cylindrical coordinates. 'Up' and 'down' are towards and away from its rotation axis. Gravity reducing to zero at the hub doesn't help.
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  • Alternative Number System: Involves solving mathematical puzzles based on the native number systems of the Avians (base 16) and Octospiders (base 8).
  • Ambient: The music, composed by Charles Barth, definitely fits the atmosphere.
  • Ascended Extra: Irina Turgenyev
  • Big Dumb Object: Rama
  • Bizarre Alien Senses:
    • The lair of the Avians is home to murals painted with materials that human eyes can't see, and the player must eat melons to be able to see them, some of which contain clues.
    • The OctoSpiders only communicate in varying flashes of color, and some of them even dance to light shows that have no sound.
  • Cigar Chomper: Otto Heillman.
  • Clarke's Third Law
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Learning the various number systems in Bangkok allows the player to get around the Avian and OctoSpider domains later in the game. One of the latter aliens even tests you on this towards the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Micheal O'Toole's favorite number sequence. A randomly generated portion of this sequence is used as the nuke's disarm code at the end of the game.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: You are the replacement after the death of a fellow astronaut.
  • Creator Cameo: Aside from the Have a Nice Death entry, Nicole des Jardins leaves you a data cube with a snippet of 3001 on it, with her accompanying note mentioning that your character likes Clarke's works.
  • Diegetic Interface: Your HUD could basically be a biot in itself, since it has the distinctive three eyes in the lower left corner. They even move if you hold an item in front of them for a close-up view.
  • Exposition Fairy: Puck, the six-inch Shakesperian robot who lives in your inventory. He was created by Dr. Richard Wakefield specifically to help you explore the titular alien spaceship, having been programmed with the team's initial survey data to do so. His most useful comment is "There appears to be an object of some interest lying on the ground."
  • Featureless Protagonist: You only ever see your hand or a pointer or the item you are holding. A human-looking silhouette is shown during your ride down on the cable car, though.
  • Fricking Laser Beams: London has a wall of energy in front of it that pulses on and off in a pattern, leaving a small window for the player to cross unharmed at the right moment. Fortunately it can be disabled on the other side.
  • The Game of the Book: Rendezvous with Rama (specifically, the sequel Rama II).
  • Gossipy Hens: Irinia Turgenyev is one unlike her counterpart from the book.
  • Have a Nice Death: If you run out of time for the time bomb Clarke himself tells you that there is a way to stop them.
  • Hidden Depths: Turgenyev is the most unlike her book counterpart. Probably because the book gave her little characterization other than to say how quiet she was.
  • Info Dump: A computer at the beginning has video greetings from every crew member, sans Yamanaka and Tabori. The ones that have to be watched to advance the game are marked as "URGENT".
  • Killed Off for Real: Several astronauts end up this way before long.
    • Reggie Wilson befalls this when he crashes a rover into one of the Crab Biots, which eats him and the rover. Worse, Sabatini filmed it all on TV, causing major concern among the crew and Earth over the mission.
    • Takagishi, O'Toole, and Sabatini are reported missing after entering New York. All 3 are implied to have been killed by the Octospiders, judging by their belongings scattered around the area.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: If it’s on the ground or in someone’s locker pick it up and take it with you.
  • Macro Zone: With the use of Falstaff, Dr. Wakefield's personal android, late in the game you get to see pygmy Octo-spiders up close, thanks to his small size.
  • Magic Countdown: Done by accident due to a near Game-Breaking Bug. The six-hour countdown for the bomb is in real time, but every single movement you make subtracts more time, meaning that players will have to do things in a strict order to keep as much time on the clock as possible.
  • Medium Blending: CGI and live-action.
  • Mistaken for Quake: At one point in the game, the camera rattles when an earthquake-like tremor shakes Rama. Dr. Wakefield and Brown then chime in via vidmail that it's actually Rama altering its course. Which turns out to now be on an impact course with Earth. It changes again later on to a safer course, but the nukes are armed by then.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: A round, city-like structure called Bangkok is this, with staple items from each alien race.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Nicole (French) and Francesca (Italian). Francesca, however, given the casting, might have had a change of nationality and possibly partial ethnicity with the game adaptation.
  • Nuclear Option: Three nuclear bombs are placed inside Rama as a safe guard against it being a threat to earth.
  • Pixel Hunt: Items needed to progress the game are often small often overlooked spots in your vision.
  • Press X to Die: By entering an area of the map containing Spider Biots, or Crab Biots moving in your direction.
  • Reactionless Drive
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: General O'Toole (warm and grandfatherly) /Admiral Heilmann (blunt and uptight). Dr. Takagishi (warm and friendly)/Dr. Brown (boss with No Social Skills).
  • Redundant Researcher: Played With: While you can't complete the game without help from the NPCs (who get work done when you're not around), it's up to you to do the heavy lifting (read: puzzle solving).
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Played straight with David Brown. Averted mostly with Richard Wakefield (he comes off as zany and charming in the game), although the books do mention that his socialization coefficient score was low compared to a lot of the others, but at least still not as low as Brown, however.
  • Scare Chord: When seeing the first two nukes on the ship.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Spinventory: You can rotate inventory items when in close-up view.
  • Sequel Hook: Unlike the book, to which the author never planned sequels, Clarke tells the player that in the not too distant future, they will have another chance of visiting Rama.
  • Shout-Out: Pigeons from Hell
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The intro.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Solve the number or shape sequence.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Avian voice player and tuning forks are used as keys late in the game.
  • Starfish Language: Used as another puzzle element.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Your handy-dandy wrist-computer, for receiving vidmail and reading occasional data cubes scattered about. Also has a map, which is how you get around the alien ship. Later, Dr. Wakefield allows you to control his android, Falstaff through it, and it monitors how much time is left before the three nukes go off.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens
  • Taxidermy Terror: A gallery in the OctoSpiders' domain includes the bodies of an Avian and Shigeru Takagishi, both stuffed and put on display. There's even a picture nearby, showing how Takagishi was stuffed.
  • Time Abyss: The Rama.
  • Warp Whistle: Going to the edge of any of Rama's various locations takes you to a map of the ship, with red dots around it marking where you can go. Clicking on one of them shows a general schematic of that area with an icon of yourself moving to it; clicking on it again takes you to that location.


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