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"Games of the Week!"


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If you saw this in the shops, you'd be sorely tempted to buy it -- the first part of the adventure is undoubtedly superb. However, as soon as the Museum is left, after half an hour's play or so, the graphics change to a very basic overhead view, completely destroying the atmosphere. The gameplay has plenty of depth, but there's no real excitement -- consequently the action wears a bit thin. It's a shame that there's such a big let-down right in the middle of the game, because if the Museum's standard of graphics had been kept up, Legacy of the Ancients would be a classic. As it stands, it's a case of being half great and half average -- which just isn't enough.
 
JR.
 

 

 
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!
Legacy of the Ancients
1987 Electronic Arts
Programmed by Charles Dougherty & John Dougherty
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the thirty first issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: October 8th, 1987).
 

 

LEGACY OF THE ANCIENTS
Electronic Arts, 16.95 disk


Once upon a time, a Tarmalonian shepherd enjoyed the quiet life. He breezed through the days without a care in the world, and any life beyond this was nothing but rumour and hearsay. But, like all good things, it came to an end. One dark day, surrounding wildlife became disturbingly quiet. A figure lay beside the road, a leather scroll gripped tightly in his hand and a golden bracelet adorned on his wrist. The shepherd discovered this body and, seeing that he was unobserved, stripped it of all its possessions. However, he paid for his actions.

A vision of a tall, magnificent building appeared in front of him, its huge columns glistening in the sun as they soared skyward. Transfixed, he walked toward the arched entrance and entered -- the adventure had begun.

Thornberry -- just one of many pictures to be found
within the Gallery

The player takes the role of the shepherd, and starts with 15 points for each of his stats. The inside of the mysterious building consists of a series of long torchlit passages. This place of mystery is the Galactic Museum, depicted on-screen in first person 3D -- it's from here that information can be gleaned and access gained to locations and objects in the outside world of Tarmalon.

Little did the shepherd know that when he took the leather scroll and bracelet, he automatically became the next in a long line of adventurers whose quest is to destroy the Wizard's Compendium. This mysterious compendium is in fact the actual scroll that was picked up.

Walking around the museum reveals exhibits which provide help in the quest, although they require the correct coins to be inserted before they're activated. The shepherd begins the quest with two Jade coins, and others such as Amethyst, Topaz or Sapphire are to be found as the quest deepens.

On entering the village of Thornberry the scene
changes to an overhead view of your exploratory efforts

Once outside the museum, the main display area changes to depict a flat aerial view of the shepherd and the current surroundings. There are 12 towns and 24 dungeons and castles dotted about the map. Travel isn't straightforward, as climbing equipment is required to navigate mountainous regions and floating vessels to traverse water. Ensuring sufficient food is carried to sustain the character through the journey is also important -- one unit is consumed per day.

Confrontation with the many inhabitants of the wilderness is frequent -- with options allowing the shepherd to choose to fight, run away or even attempt to converse with some of the more friendly creatures. There are 32 breeds of monster, 24 of which are non-travelling and can be found only in particular kinds of terrain. Should fighting be chosen, a carried implement is used to attack and defend. If any of the six available magic spells are carried, they can also be used to help influence the outcome of the skirmish. Successfully defeating a monster automatically adds whatever gold they carry to the shepherd's own coffer.

When a graphic depiction of a town, castle, dungeon or museum is crossed, an option to enter is presented. Towns are full of business and service outlets which include banks, where hard-earned gold is withdrawn or deposited, lending shops, foodstores, a general store and House of Healing. Gambling houses are also present in the form of Blackjack or Flip Flop tables where money may be won or lost. Be warned however, winning too much results in a raid by the town guards!

Entering the buildings and choosing the speak option commences dealings with the particular merchant present. Selecting the fight option here usually results in the merchant's demise and the place is left open to pilferage. However, if those nefarious actions are discovered, the town guards attack. If the shepherd isn't killed or thrown in jail, he can try to bribe his way out.

The dungeons and castles are where the most dangerous activity takes place. Deeper in these dark places lies the toughest of challenges, but the greatest of the rewards. The screen display inside a castle is shown by a similar bird's-eye view to the towns and wilderness, while the dungeons are comparable to the 3D museum. Twelve types of monsters prowl the dungeons, each one stronger than the last. Therefore, a great deal of preparation is needed before the lower levels should be attempted.

The museum itself can only be re-entered if the correct combination is typed in. An access code wheel is supplied with the game packaging which enables the player to line up particular names and numbers generated by the museum to reveal the correct code -- that's if the shepherd gets back . . .

 

Wandering around the museum and dungeons is by far the best part of Legacy of the Ancients. The smooth and colourful way movement is depicted is very realistic, and there are atmospheric sound effects throughout. Unfortunately, once you get outside these areas, the gameplay deteriorates rapidly. The shepherd sprite is represented as something similar to a Michelin man jerking around the wilderness, accompanied by mostly bland sound effects. Choosing options, and the general control of the actions is easy enough, and there's certainly plenty to do -- the action should keep those who persevere with it busy for hours. But for me, I found it all came a bit dull, and eventually the blackjack tables became the most exciting element . . .

   


Presentation 88%

The cover artwork is lovely and on-screen layout is generally very thoughtful.

Graphics 68%
Brilliant in the dungeon, but the overhead exterior views are very poor.

Atmosphere 65%
Again, great indoors, but disappears when the shepherd gets into the open.

Lastability 58%
Looks great at first, but unfortunately interest wears thin as more of the game is uncovered.

Overall 61%
Looks great at first, but doesn't live up to initial expectations. It's still worth a look, though.

 
NW.
       
 

 

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (11 Oct 2005)
Only the first two screenshots existed in the original review.

This game is very good indeed and was underated by the ZZAP! reviewers. I think it deserved a rating of at least 85% overall.

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