Vinyl record sleeves and game boxes have something in common, in the sense that a particularly good design can prompt you to buy the record/game without trying it first. That's how I ended up with The Virgin Prunes' If I die, I die, which is absolutely god-awful. And, which is great fun.
First of all, the whole package smells of a job well done. No cheapo inlays and postage-not-paid-for surveys (which I never fill in 'cause their age categories usually stop at the 21-30 mark) that all try to hide a lack of docs or other goodies. This one has a CD booklet with all the commands and other info, nobody tried to save a buck on printing here.
The CD only needs a bit of space for the game itself, which can be played under all versions of Windows starting at 3.1 up to 98SE (incl.) for sure. No real video, and the cutscenes all integrate smoothly with the actual gameplay. The rest of the CD consists of a music track, playable on regular audio CD units. I doubt that anyone would listen to the orchestral type of soundtrack for its own sake, but having this playing over the stereo while you're in the game is very effective, as it fits the atmosphere perfectly.
On start-up, you get some well-rendered scenes of WWII-era USAF planes taking off, flying about a bit, a spot of fighting, and a crash, which supposedly occurs on some island that's been overlooked by earlier cartographers. Then again, this is the 1940s, so who knows? All this is happening in some area connected with the Bermuda Triangle 'mysteries' of course, hence the title. What the Syndrome is, I never found out, but it sure sounds good.
Time for your first - and last (if you don't count the ending) - let-down. The crashed pilot is called Jack. Jack wears a pastel-tinted wifebeater undershirt over blue jeans. And Jack talks. Before I address that last ominous point: what sort of WWII USAF pilot would be flying around looking like a Bruce Springsteen concert goer? By the way, Jack's moves are such that, combined with his blown-dry haircut and go-getter's outfit, he very much gives one the impression of having just come from a tête à tête with one of the leather-clad gentlemen at The Blue Oyster.
Anyway, that's not the problem. Do you think 'cool' is expressed through cheeky (I instinctively typed 'cheesy' there) wisecracking like a pill-popping Tony Danza? Have you ever heard an Asian try to pass for an American? Did you have some big good-looking (if you're into square jaws and gunslinger's eyes) guy at your school who was good at sports, got all the girls' attention, but seemed to prefer the company of other boys just like him..? That's Jack. As for the girl, she's got a russian name, and a badly faked “french” accent. Someone really wanted to push the point through that this was a Grade-A Exotic Female. That someone failed miserably.
So, thanks to Jack's severely limited vocabulary and slow wits (it takes quite a while to wade through the inane answers offered in the dialogue boxes before you'll find something that doesn't sound too puerile), and the native princess's single naked breast (though you'll only ever see it from the far side, and it's not too detailed), we have found out that the initial audience targeted by the producers is the spotty 13-yr old next door. It's not important, but the game can do without that sort of fuzz (I mean the lingo, the breast can stay).
After stopping the princess from becoming princess salad for some T-Rex type (you'll meet many more dinos in this game, forgot to mention that earlier), the actual game starts. I won't take you through the whole thing here, 'cause it would spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that the combination of platform, action, and puzzle elements work very well. Nothing's too difficult (any complicated stuff would probably ruin the atmosphere and break up the rhythm), and the game interface is sleek and efficient.
The graphics are 2d, and beautiful in a style that I like a lot. Think Diablo, Crusader, or Baldur's Gate without the isometric view. The many animated elements (water, plants, animals, enemies, Jack when he's bored) are as smooth as can be, and I remember that even on my old 486DX2, there wasn't any stuttering or other transitional hiccoughs. The backgrounds are lovely, too. It's almost a pity that the game has no adventure parts, 'cause you could have had lots of fun exploring the scenery and the brickwork.
The plot is simple: go save the king from some malicious influence in the form of his devious captain of the guards. You'll walk through forests, subterranean halls (no labyrinths, fortunately), plains, ancient cities, etc. And you'll do some swimming. The game's realistic on this point (a few minutes' worth of breath) and another: reloading your rifle round for round, as well as letting it dry after you've been in the water.
Enemies aren't that tough, and most tactics only involve correct timing. You can get seriously stuck (and seriously angry, if you didn't save your game) at at least one point, perhaps two. If you end up standing at a stream beneath a huge cliff, and without the princess (who got whisked away by a pterodactyl), you're f***ed, amigo.
There's some sword fighting at the end where Prince of Persia veterans are at a disadvantage. The controls are just similar enough to make you fall into the old habit, which will get yourself killed.
The ending is somewhat disappointing, but that's a regular beef with games in general. I'd love to see a final video of proportions that reflect the time you spent on the game, i.e. at least several minutes (for the video...), for adventures and RPGs to start with.
You can finish this game in one evening if you want to, but I recommend putting in breaks between major changes of scenery (you'll know when these occur), 'cause it's a fun game to come back to. Replayable too, I think I've completed it 4-5 times by now.
Final verdict: great game, despite the B-movie dialogue. I'd buy the sequel - which is hinted at in the ending - unseen, provided the same team (minus the “voice talents”) would be involved.
p.s. Just in case potential players have been put off by other reviews of this title: when a self-confessed 'strictly adventure' site bashes this gem, the reason may be that it's not an adventure. You won't finddoing very well on “Alf's Arcade Armageddon” either. Hmm... ... . That's missing here, innit..?
 the original one, not the budget re-release from PointSoft
 hard to tell where, for the planes bear Luftwaffe insignia
 one bit at the very end excepted, re. the king's greetings