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Review by
Sean Masterson


Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Gemstone Warrior
1984 Strategic Simulations Inc.
Programmed by Kevin P. Pickell
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the twelfth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: March 13th, 1986).

US Gold/SSI, disk only, keys or joystick with keys

In the beginning, the gods created the world and all the creatures that lived above and below it. To man they gave the Gemstone and mankind used it for generations to create simple, harmless magic. The demons of the netherworld tried more than once to grasp the gemstone and use its power for their own purpose. Eventually, swarming across the face of the Earth, they killed the guardians of the stone and seized it. Man fell into a state of despair. Magic began to fail and the race began to die out. The demons and their spawn spread, but they could not harness the power of the stone. In frustration they attempted to destroy it, but only managed to shatter it into five pieces, which they hid inside their underworld complex. You take the challenge of seeking out the fragments and returning them to what's left of the human race. You are the only hope.

There lies the plot for one of the most recent SSI role-playing games. It differs from other SSI role-playing games because it plays as a real-time arcade adventure with strategic elements. The game accepts joystick control, but as this will still require keyboard interaction to some extent, it's probably less confusing to use the keyboard throughout. The instructions aren't as thorough as in other SSI titles, but they do provide a keyboard plan allowing you to get into the game very quickly. Most SSI rules books are bursting with useful information, but in this book most of the information dealt with game play on several other machines, which gave the impression of a lack of imagination.

Amidst the ruins, skeletons surround our hero.

The character has a choice of weapons (fireball or crossbow), an inventory of useful objects (including a quiver of arrows) and a life force bar, all of which are visible on the screen. A real-time clock is also displayed, along with treasure points to aid keeping track of progress during play. The rest of the screen consists of the play area itself, which scrolls as the character reaches its edge.

Apart from the theme tune used at the beginning, the game makes good use of sound effects to warn of different creatures approaching. However, the option to cancel these effects is just one of a series of redefinable features of the game. All the control keys may be altered to cater to personal taste, and a high score table may be cleared at the player's discretion. All these features are only accessible at the start of the game.

The game normally begins with a short graphic sequence depicting your character's arrival at the temple (from where he is magically transported to the caves), but you have the option to commence play immediately. Once the cave system has been entered, you have to be constantly on your guard. Monsters come at you from all directions. Some are disease ridden and require a quick kill to avoid infection. Others multiply during combat and consequently make a deadly foe. As you fight with various weapons, the inventory totals alter to reflect ammunition used.

As the character explores the dungeons and caverns, he has the option to search dead foes or examine artifacts in search of magic items. More often than not, these are beneficial to his quest. Occasionally however, there may be traps or evil magic involved, resulting in something very nasty happening!

I felt somewhat out of place, reviewing this game. It seamed as though one of the Garys or Julian should have reviewed it. With continued play, I began to realise why SSI were marketing this

as a strategy game. It plays heavily on traditional role-playing elements. However, by putting these into real time, they have taken away the often time-consuming, logic puzzle aspect of the genre, and the result seemed hollow when compared to their other efforts in this field. Consequently, I feel that SSI missed the mark; Gemstone Warrior fails as a true strategy game and doesn't have the straightforward approach of a good graphic adventure. Technically, the game seems to work well and is wonderfully presented on the screen. Unfortunately, the praise stops there.


Presentation 84%

Excellent choice of screen options but disappointing rules book.

Graphics 85%
Good use of icons and inventory displays but lacking in some areas.

Instructions 81%
Very concise but lacking in imagination.

Authenticity N/A
I feel unable to rate this aspect of the game because of its approach.

Overall 80%
Fails to meet the high standard of other SSI games -- it may never find the right market.




Can anybody rip the SID tune out of this one?

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (27 Apr 2004)

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