Review by Orb
This is a classic adventure game, originally released in 1987
by Mindscape and updated for the GBC, and it packs a lot of punch
into a tiny screen, let me tell you. I had more fun with this,
in glorious 8-bit color, than some vacuous, bloated eye candy
I have laying around here. I guess there's something to be said
for just plain old good writing.
The prologue is thus: "Long ago, a great council of sorcerers
existed, the circle of twelve. One from that group of mighty wizards
fell into the black arts. He was forever named the Warlock lord
and sought to subjugate the people of Kal Torlin. However, the
remaining members of the circle, lead by the powerful Lakmir the
Timeless succeeded in imprisoning the Evil One in a deep cavern
below Castle Shadowgate. Centuries passed and the land enjoyed
peace and prosperity as the Warlock Lord bided his time below.
An unfortunate accident triggered by a group of dwarves released
the Evil from his magical cell. Seizing control of castle Shadowgate,
the Warlock Lord turned his control towards summoning the mighty
titan, the Behemoth. With this powerful creature at his side the
Warlock Lord would be unstoppable! Only someone from the ancient
liner of Kings, of which the prophecies speak of, can stand against
this Evil. Only a hero descended from the lost Royal Family can
bring ruin to the Warlock Lord's dark schemes. ..."
The story has a very definite Tolkien air, Mountain Dwarves and
all. For anyone that loves to explore rooms and do inventory-based
puzzles, this game is a blast.
The game features really outstanding, clever graphics and animations
for such a small design. It's first person, kind of a cross between
the Kyrandia series and Shivers
(without the straight puzzles).
The music is basically just MIDI-style stuff, played in loops,
and it's quite nice and not redundant.
Game action is done the old-fashioned way, by the use of action
words that are clicked on to change what the character is doing.
It has, like its counterpart Deja
Vu, a screen to the right with a map that shows all the
exits of the room you're in. And even though it sounds like it,
believe it or not, even with this feature, the screen does not
The game has some fun RPG elements, with scrolls and spells that
need to be found and properly used. Not too much, just enough
to make them interesting puzzles that add to the overall gameplay.
And believe it or not, there is a huge inventory in this
gamewhere can I possibly put all this stuff? There are enemies
that you have to use the correct weapon on, but these are my kind
of foe, they stand and wait whilst you figure out which is the
best inventory item to use on them!
A couple of down sides: there is a "leave" option for
inventory, but I had trouble using it. Also, sometimes it is a
pixel-hunt to get your cursor exactly over an inventory item to
take it or over a hot spot to move. There is also a very large
number of red herring inventory items, which is pretty much a
pain in a small hand-held console. I counted 39 extraneous items
at endgame. But as the game was originally designed for computer,
this may simply be part of the original design.
A restart feature takes the player back to the last
saved game. So you can go into a room and try things out, no muss,
One nice feature of the game is that, although you can die easily,
it does not matter, as the game will just pick you back up and
dust you off, starting you where you left off. Additionally, if
a path error is made before the death, you are restarted back
before the path error. All games where the player can die
should be like this.
Game paths are pretty clearyou can't get lost and have
to retrace your steps; it's very much one room leads to another
leads to the next, kind of how Secrets
of the Luxor was designed.
There are two torches at either side of the screen that the player
must keep lit throughout the game as the castle is explored, a
fun puzzle all unto itself.
One of my biggest peeves in the game is that all doors had to
be initially opened before you could go through them, and the
game was constantly reminding me to open the door first, and it
would have been better (but maybe more complex programming-wise)
to just have one click open the door. And many of the puzzles
are simply trial and error in figuring out which inventory piece
to use on the beastie stopping you from getting the new inventory
item next to it. Because of red-herring inventory, this was tedious,
but the animations you're rewarded with when the right inventory
item is used are a lot of fun.
The game has a great hint system as a built-in feature. And the
save feature is really easy and a pleasure. There is one save
slot per gamedon't screw up!
One nice touch is that the game is in four languages. I have
simply no idea how they built that into such a small package.
Ain't technology grand? Someone had to have been a lover of pure,
old-time adventure games to produce this and Deja Vu, and
that should be acknowledged. Keeping these older games alive is
a technological feat that impresses me and a historical one I
admire. Okay, everyone, go get a GBC, and pick these up!
Developer: Infinite Ventures
Release Date: 1999
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