This reviewing business was supposed to be fun. Nice,
quiet evenings relaxing in front of a roasting spit,
typing in the odd letter while one hell of fat, juicy
billy-goat roasts over a blazing fire. I lopped off
the biggest Yule log any of you pus-bags has ever seen,
baked a whole trough-full of stinking hedgehog pies,
mulled a bit of lizard wine and got ready for the annual
Christmas Chuck Vomit do.
Uncle Ripperbile comes with my Aunty Danglesnort and
a barrel of fermented slime. My brother Burp makes the
journey down from Glasgow -- he always brings a few
gristly titbits from his er . . . encounters along the
way. We sit around the fire and sing songs -- 'How sweet
to be a psychopath', 'Billygoats, billygoats, drown
them now' and other such family favourites. I was really
getting into the mood when shivering Gordo plops through
the letter box and tells me I've got a special to write.
Not billygoat tan-doori and chips either, but a whopping
great extra adventure section. Bang goes my Christmas
do (and Gordon's head against the fire). Shucks -- I
was really looking forward to Ripperbile's annual uncorking
of the slime. Now I'll have to wait for Aunty Snotnose's
New Year billy-goat bash. Bah! Still, with no-one else
to share it, there's all the more Yuletide feasting
for me . . .
I like flans -- billy-goat flan with just a pinch of
mustard and a light dusting of roasted breadcrumbs are
a really rare delicacy . . . Phlan, on the other hand,
is a totally different kettle of fish -- well, not exactly
fish, more like monsters. And you don't get many of
those to your cup of billy goats' blood.
you're a fan of AD&D you'll know all about the
world of Forgotten Realms. If you're not, you won't.
It doesn't matter a lizard's toenail either way, as
this isn't exactly the sort of scenario to twist your
brain into steaming knots. Basically, parts of Phlan
have been enchanted by a mystical evil force and have
been overrun ay bloodthirsty monsters -- their trails
of gore and slime have made the slums even more uninhabitable
than they were before (phwoar!, you should see them
-- what a honk!)
of riches, untold treasure and gems galore are enough
to tempt someone as greedy as you into adventure straight
away. Bard's Tale-style, you can create your
own party of up to eight characters or get straight
into the thick of things using a party someone prepared
earlier. Enter city hall and a clerk gives you a commission.
Complete it and you can return to claim your just reward,
use the money to pay for extra training and raise your
character level, before setting off again.
the screen display is very reminiscent of The Bard's
Tale series, gameplay itself is conducted in a slightly
different way. Using the joystick, you toggle between
a whole range of different menus -- you can use objects,
trade possessions with other characters, parley with
enemies, buy, sell, pool your money, cast spells and
learn magic. Not only that, you can also view your progress
from several angles, including an aerial view. The graphic
displays of the streets actually look like streets with
different doorways for specific buildings and various
concentrations of ivy coming down the walls.
combat mode, the screen switches to a full graphic display.
You choose the moves your players make or just let the
computer do all the work for you. We're definitely talking
long-winded here. Making laborious moves for each character,
then watching and waiting for every single member of
the enemy party to choose their tactics is more tedious
than waiting for an extra-large goat to roast on an
extra-small spit, especially when there's a devious
combat situation lurking like a gru around every corner.
doesn't matter so much the first few times you play,
but after a while it does get fairly tedious (not so
bad if you use your SAVE GAME option a lot). When there
aren't any arcade skills involved, I can't see the point
of having an arcade-style display. You do get to see
your warriors firing arrows and hacking orcs in mini-animation
but in the long run I don't really think it's worth
an incredibly huge, ginormous, large, port-bellied environment
to explore. Get your mapping instruments ready because
this game is BIG. There isn't all that much to do puzzle-wise
-- fighting, hacking, slicing and chopping is about
all there is to it, but on the whole it's excellently
presented and great fun to play. I'm not sure about
the lastability, though -- bashing orcs is one of my
favourite hobbies but it does get a bit repetitive after
a while, especially if you're waiting around a lot for
the program to access disk. The Bard's Tale III
is still my favourite 64 RPG (the puzzles are what make
it last): Pool Of Radiance is just a tad too
one-sided to match it.
-- if blood is all you want from a role-playing adventure
and you don't care how you get it, then rush out to
the shops pretty damn pronto and buy this right now.
On the other hand, if, like me, you've got more of a
head for puzzles, think about it slowly and carefully
first . . .