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  Review by
Steve Cooke
(The White Wizard)

 

 
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 Standing Stones
1984 Electronic Arts
By Peter Schmuckal & Dan Sommers
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the sixteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: July 10th, 1986).
 
 

STANDING STONES
Ariolasoft, 12.95 on disk only
 

t certainly seems to be role-playing month this time. No sooner had I finished creating team-mates and allocating dexterity points than this Ariolasoft product bounced onto the mat. The artwork boasts a silhouette of Stonehenge, and somehow the whole package manages to convey an aura of mystery and imagination.


However, 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.

Just 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.

From 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.

Yes, 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.

Well, 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.

Despite 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.

All 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.

 
Atmosphere 70%
Interaction 48%
Lasting Interest 65%

Value for Money

58%

Overall

62%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (8 Sep 2004)

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