as soon as you get down to the actual gameplay, it turns
out to be none other than our very old friend Monster
Maze, but dolled up and re-presented to look more
up to date.
in case you're too young to remember Monster Maze
(which ran in several different versions on several
different machines) the basic idea is that of a maze,
represented by the barest of line drawings, along which
you can move by typing F for forward, L for left and
so on. The display then redraws the image and shows
you whether there's a passage, a dead-end or perhaps
a doorway, ahead of you.
time to time in these games, nasty monsters suddenly
materialise in front of you and you must then put your
faith in your hit points and the random number routine
to see who wins. The monsters, in my experience, always
get you in the end, but on the way you can pick up a
few scrolls, a spot of treasure and some experience
points into the bargain.
my fellow Wizards, we've heard it all before, haven't
we? We played games like this back in noughty-nought
and now here's Ariolasoft trying to get us to do it
all over again, but with flashier packaging.
the funny thing is that the Wiz quite enjoyed doing
it all over again. It's really pretty mindless stuff
-- you create a Knight by juggling a few random numbers
together and coming up with values for Virility, Intellect,
Holiness, Agility, and Initial Hit Points. Then it's
off into the maze to collect treasure and do battle
with the baddies.
a rather surprising bug in one part of the program that
corrupts the screen until you press RETURN, the program
is as well presented as this old fashioned tripe can
be. It's funny how even an old idea begins to take on
a bit of shine when the screen's nice and tidy and there's
some nice music at the beginning. Combine the neatness
with the limited options (Drop, Rest, Cast a spell,
Use a potion, Bribe, Fight and Greet, plus movements)
and you get a game that's totally undemanding on the
grey cells. And of course (as I pointed out in the review
of Mandragore earlier), you get the steady building
of a relationship with your character, even if he is
about as complex as a marshmallow. Tough on the girls
though, since in this game you can only be male.
the various menu screens are nicely done, with amusing
touches such as 'Press a key to commiteth Hari-Kari
or space if you were only joking' following your decision
to destroy a previously created character. The funny
thing is that although this game is infinitely less
sophisticated than Mandragore -- it actually
had me playing for longer -- perhaps it was because
I didn't have to think much about it (or even at all).
I climbed from experience level to experience level
until I was killed by an exploding chest I found in
the dungeons deep beneath the Standing Stones. Mind
you, I examined it first, but . . .
. . anyway, I digress. One interesting feature of this
game is the ability to act as your own dungeon master
and to play with other characters/players. All in all,
it's an old-fashioned hit-points-and-dire-wolves number,
but it's quite nicely done and should keep us mindless
treasure-hunters happy for a while.