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  Review by
Kati Hamza
(Chuck Vomit)

 

 
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!

Pool of Radiance
1988 SSI (Strategic Simulations Inc.)
Programmed by Keith Brors

 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the forty fourth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: November 10th, 1988).
 


Phwoar! This reviewing business was supposed to be fun. Nice, quiet evenings relaxing in front of a roasting spit, typing in the odd letter while one hell of fat, juicy billy-goat roasts over a blazing fire. I lopped off the biggest Yule log any of you pus-bags has ever seen, baked a whole trough-full of stinking hedgehog pies, mulled a bit of lizard wine and got ready for the annual Christmas Chuck Vomit do.

Normally Uncle Ripperbile comes with my Aunty Danglesnort and a barrel of fermented slime. My brother Burp makes the journey down from Glasgow -- he always brings a few gristly titbits from his er . . . encounters along the way. We sit around the fire and sing songs -- 'How sweet to be a psychopath', 'Billygoats, billygoats, drown them now' and other such family favourites. I was really getting into the mood when shivering Gordo plops through the letter box and tells me I've got a special to write. Not billygoat tan-doori and chips either, but a whopping great extra adventure section. Bang goes my Christmas do (and Gordon's head against the fire). Shucks -- I was really looking forward to Ripperbile's annual uncorking of the slime. Now I'll have to wait for Aunty Snotnose's New Year billy-goat bash. Bah! Still, with no-one else to share it, there's all the more Yuletide feasting for me . . .
.

 

 

POOL OF RADIANCE
SSI/US Gold, C64 24.95 disk

 

lans! I like flans -- billy-goat flan with just a pinch of mustard and a light dusting of roasted breadcrumbs are a really rare delicacy . . . Phlan, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of fish -- well, not exactly fish, more like monsters. And you don't get many of those to your cup of billy goats' blood.

If you're a fan of AD&D you'll know all about the world of Forgotten Realms. If you're not, you won't. It doesn't matter a lizard's toenail either way, as this isn't exactly the sort of scenario to twist your brain into steaming knots. Basically, parts of Phlan have been enchanted by a mystical evil force and have been overrun ay bloodthirsty monsters -- their trails of gore and slime have made the slums even more uninhabitable than they were before (phwoar!, you should see them -- what a honk!)

Tales of riches, untold treasure and gems galore are enough to tempt someone as greedy as you into adventure straight away. Bard's Tale-style, you can create your own party of up to eight characters or get straight into the thick of things using a party someone prepared earlier. Enter city hall and a clerk gives you a commission. Complete it and you can return to claim your just reward, use the money to pay for extra training and raise your character level, before setting off again.

Though the screen display is very reminiscent of The Bard's Tale series, gameplay itself is conducted in a slightly different way. Using the joystick, you toggle between a whole range of different menus -- you can use objects, trade possessions with other characters, parley with enemies, buy, sell, pool your money, cast spells and learn magic. Not only that, you can also view your progress from several angles, including an aerial view. The graphic displays of the streets actually look like streets with different doorways for specific buildings and various concentrations of ivy coming down the walls.

In combat mode, the screen switches to a full graphic display. You choose the moves your players make or just let the computer do all the work for you. We're definitely talking long-winded here. Making laborious moves for each character, then watching and waiting for every single member of the enemy party to choose their tactics is more tedious than waiting for an extra-large goat to roast on an extra-small spit, especially when there's a devious combat situation lurking like a gru around every corner.

It doesn't matter so much the first few times you play, but after a while it does get fairly tedious (not so bad if you use your SAVE GAME option a lot). When there aren't any arcade skills involved, I can't see the point of having an arcade-style display. You do get to see your warriors firing arrows and hacking orcs in mini-animation but in the long run I don't really think it's worth it.

There's an incredibly huge, ginormous, large, port-bellied environment to explore. Get your mapping instruments ready because this game is BIG. There isn't all that much to do puzzle-wise -- fighting, hacking, slicing and chopping is about all there is to it, but on the whole it's excellently presented and great fun to play. I'm not sure about the lastability, though -- bashing orcs is one of my favourite hobbies but it does get a bit repetitive after a while, especially if you're waiting around a lot for the program to access disk. The Bard's Tale III is still my favourite 64 RPG (the puzzles are what make it last): Pool Of Radiance is just a tad too one-sided to match it.

Still -- if blood is all you want from a role-playing adventure and you don't care how you get it, then rush out to the shops pretty damn pronto and buy this right now. On the other hand, if, like me, you've got more of a head for puzzles, think about it slowly and carefully first . . .

 
Atmosphere 83%
Puzzle Factor 49%
Interaction 60%
Lastability 81%

Overall

80%
 


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

Pool of Radiance Demonstration Sequence

Pool of Radiance Introduction Sequence

Pool of Radiance Assorted Screenshots

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (18 Apr 2007)

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