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"Games of the Week!"

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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!
The Master of Magic
1985 Mastertronic's Added Dimension (MAD)
Programmed by Richard Darling
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).


When US Gold sent me the SSI batch, only tentative release dates for a few of the products had been settled. Unfortunately more information is difficult to come by. All the fantasy titles are planned for release in April and the first of the Superpowers series, Germany 1985 is planned for May. Prices are as yet unknown with the exception of Tigers in the Snow which is retailing for 14.95 on disk and 9.95 on cassette. As to the possibility of any other titles appearing on cassette, US Gold were unable to comment at the time of writing. However, with the role-playing games this seems unlikely due to their large size.

Also, four of the games could not be reviewed for various reasons. Battalion Commander should have appeared in this issue but the disk somehow became corrupted and a spare copy was not available in time. RDF 1985 arrived with the wrong rules book and again, no spare copies were available. Both Tigers in the Snow and Knights of the Desert were only available for the Atari, and although they could have been previewed in this form, it was decided that Commodore incarnations would be preferable. When this information is available, I'll let you know all the details. Of course, any future SSI releases will be reviewed as soon as I get my paws on them. See you next month.


Mastertronic, 2.99 cass, joystick or keys

Whilst exploring underground caverns, you chance upon a deep black pool. A ripple in the mirror smooth surface draws you closer to the edge. A powerful hand slides out and quickly grabs you under! It is the hand of Thelric, Master of Magic, plunging you into his strange mythical world of Magic and Mystery.

'It is written in the Book of Magic that only Thelric has the knowledge which blends time and space into a powerful spell. He will not cast this spell to return you to your own world until you have retrieved for him the lost Amulet of Immortality. Without it he will age and die.'

So reads the intro to Mastertronics latest game. It's actually rather difficult to categorise. The whole thing is normally controlled via the joystick, with the need for rapid player response like an arcade game. The actual plot is typical adventure material, but the way in which the character must act in order to survive and be successful has overriding elements of strategy. In other words, everybody in the office said, 'You do it!' Who am I to argue?

In fact, this is the most remarkable game I've ever seen for the price. Those who have heard about PSS's MIDAS system will be familiar with the way the game works. In the top left corner of the screen is a constantly changing plan of the player's current location, showing other creatures present as well as a small blob revealing your exact position. The player is only shown what his or her character is able to see. On the right hand side of the screen is the information window, which basically contains a text version of what is going on. In the middle part of the screen is a kind of 'action window.' On pressing the joystick button, a series of commands appear in this window. Toggling the joystick allows a particular word to be highlighted, and a further button press accepts that command.

As an example, a small bat might appear in the room. In the information window, this information will also be displayed. Pressing the button the command list appears, and I toggle the joystick until CAST is highlighted and press again. The command window updates showing all the spells I could possibly cast. Selecting MAGIC MISSILE, I press the button again and the text display might answer, 'The bat is dead.'

One interesting feature I haven't mentioned so far is that when certain phenomena appear (I say phenomena because they can be anything from stairs to orcs), a picture appears in the window at the base of the screen. These are colourful and well drawn. If one of them is a creature killed by you, the word DEAD written in blood curdling red is 'stamped' on it. A very nice touch.

So using this method of interaction, the player is free to roam a large (and necessarily mappable) dungeon, inhabited with various forms of undead and other nasty creatures in the quest. The only quibble I have about the way this system works is that responsiveness of the character is sometimes too fiddly for my liking. It's possible to get most inconveniently stuck in a doorway when trying to run away because you have to be exactly in line with the outgoing passage. This proved fatal more than once.

The game is full of features you would not find in many games twice the price. After killing a monster it is possible to use any possessions it carried. Fighting depends on what weapon the

character is holding in his right hand. Mind power necessary for magic is limited and must be used wisely. Monsters even have their own nasty habits. Finally the Rob Hubbard score for this game seems to suit it perfectly and adds a touch of real professionalism.

Master of Magic is a terrific game. It's well designed, fast and exciting. It plays well and demands a lot of skill from the player. The fact that it has been released at this price just shows what software houses can offer when they try. It doesn't appear to be quite as comprehensive as the MIDAS system, but if that means it is only a cheap version of Swords and Sorcery then it's a very good cheap version.


Presentation 85%

Very well laid out indeed.

Graphics 83%
Animated graphics are crude but effective. Static graphics are escellent.

Instructions 70%
Concice but clear.

Authenticity 65%
It's a reasonable role playing game.

Playability 84%
Easily playable and quite addictive.

Value For Money 98%
Should set an example to other software houses.

Overall 88%
Not as comprehensive as Temple of Apshai but still fun to play.



Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (29 Apr 2004)

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