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I didn't know that Virgin had the rights to produce another Arthur Pendragon game. Well, they've produced a game that looks, sounds and plays exactly like something that Ultimate would have brought out a year ago. The game itself is pretty dull, more of the same from a rather mediocre type of game. Why the programmer can't produce something original I don't know . . . he's obviously got the talent.

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On first sight this looks like a direct copy of an Ultimate game, and on further investigation it still does. It looks, plays and occasionally sounds exactly like an Ultimate production. It's not that enthralling and the quest soon becomes tedious due to the difficulty in the accuracy of firing, which only leads to all your life force being drained. Maybe this should be called
The Entombed Staff of Dragonskulle in Blackwyche, because that's basically what it is. I'm not impressed.

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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!
Arcana
1986 New Generation Software
Programmed by Geoff Sumner
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eighteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: September 11th, 1986).
 

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ARCANA
New Generation Software/Virgin, 7.95 cass, joystick only


Baludar has been assigned a quest, one more mighty and mystical than has ever been known before. The people of Estarion, the Land of the Bright Elves, have selected you to save their land from the ever-so-evil king Valarequil who rules the land from Castle Arcana. Your life-endangering task is to penetrate the Castle and recover the legendary Dark Clavical, an invaluable book of the most potent black magic which is currently in the dastardly clutches of Valarequil.

Valarequil's ambition is great and his power is terrible -- he greatly desires the secrets of the Dark Clavical. The book is hidden in a chamber deep inside the labyrinth of the Castle and is heavily guarded by seven mighty demons. The Dark clavical is sealed with a locked clasp and cannot be opened until the Shedding Moon Eve, the Autumn Equinox.

Your quest begins outside the castle fortifications. To the far left is the entrance to the labyrinth, but to get there you will need to cross the battlements where you will be attacked by a flying witch -- a quick bolt of energy should finish her off though, leaving you unhindered to enter the very depths of Castle Arcana.

Once you are inside the castle you will be plagued by the evil minions of Valarequil. Luckily the magician of Estarion has equipped you with magic bolts of luminous energy. These can be shot in any of the eight standard directions to dispose of a majority of the guardians.

The castle is displayed in a pseudo 3D style, showing the halls of the castle which are littered with various authentic artifacts. To solve the quest and retrieve the Dark Clavical you must locate the Great Hall of Valarequil in only two and half hours game-time. Your status is measured by life force, which slowly dissipates as time goes on, and each time you are attacked it drops considerably.

Some doors in the castle can be opened automatically, whereas others require a key or substantial force to open them. There is also an ancient transport mechanism which no-one knows how to use -- but there is a way. There are thirty rooms scattered throughout the complex, search each of them carefully -- any object may hold a helpful secret. Even if you can't find an object first time round, go back later -- objects previously found may reveal some deep mysterious clue. Can you locate the Dark Clavical and save the land from the dark shadow of Valarequil?

     

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I can still remember Geoff Sumner's first game, Amazon Warrior, which was a Forbidden Forest clone, and not a particularly good one at that. Now Mr Sumner has done it again, only this time he's produced a game similar to an Ultimate arcade adventure -- very similar. Even some of the spot effects sound the same! However, it must be said that Arcana isn't too bad and is adequate fodder for those who are starved of this type of game. I don't like it, but then I'm bored of Ultimate's arcade adventures anyway.
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Presentation 65%

Simple title screen and a few options.

Graphics 55%
Average backdrops and sprites.

Sound 43%
Simple Ultimatesque title screen music and spot FX
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Hookability 46%
As addictive as any recent Ultimate offering.

Lastability 44%
And just as absorbing.

Value For Money 44%
Certainly worth the asking price if you like this sort of game.

Overall 45%
Will appeal mainly to ardent fans of Ultimate's arcade adventures who want more of the same.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (2 Mar 2010)

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