PROJECT: Binary code addiction as a means of controlling
SCIENTIST: Prof NORMAN NUTZ Phd, Bsc, KP.
EQUIPMENT: C64, Amiga A500, Cray-2.
ASSISTANT: The Geek
what do you know? I only had to moan about the lack
of C64 adventures last month and SSI came up with not
one but two excellent C64 RPGs. The Geek was so happy
that he jumped for joy out of the third floor window
of ZZAP! Towers -- it took me five reels of black thread
to sew him back together. However some of his bodily
parts were irreparable and I don't expect there to be
any more little Geeks in the future unless I build them
myself! As well as doing hours of needlework, this month
I guided a party of five (the SDP perhaps?) around the
wilderness, got involved in some Azure Bondage, and
was bitten by a nasty creature with long, sharp teeth
-- and no, it wasn't Esther Rantzen (thank God!) .
knock me down with a heavy sledgehammer (trust me, I
know what I'm doing), it's another of them role-playing
doobries. You create and control five characters whose
mission is to search the large world of Ymros for the
spells needed to see off a particularly evil demon,
Malifon. He's currently trapped in a volcano, but this
hasn't prevented him from casting a whopper of a spell
to change the world climate (I blame it on the depletion
of the ozone layer myself). Now it's permanently winter
and the seas have turned into blood (the water's not
quite up to European safety standards, but good enough
encounter with five spell-casting Mages.
a character is achieved by first choosing its race (Human,
Elf, Dwarf, Dark Elf, or Troll), each type having positive
and negative modifiers for some of the nine character
traits. Non-human races also get a bonus skill, eg dwarves
can see in the dark. Five character traits (Speed, Strength,
Intellect, Endurance, Skill) are determined by simulated
die rolls -- you get two chances to reroll any low values.
The other four traits are Hit Points, Spell Points,
Levels and Experience, the last two increasing as progress
is made in the game. Finally, the character's class
must be chosen from ten: Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian,
Monk, Cleric, Thief, Wizard, Sorcerer, Visionary, and
Scholar. After choosing one you are presented with a
list of possible skills (relevant to the chosen class)
from which two can be selected.
the Dwarf -- a deceptively vicious character
you have a party of five it's time to go adventuring.
The extensive world of Ymros is shown from overhead
with your entire party represented by a single, simply
animated character. A list of adventuring commands appears
to the right of the graphics window with another window
below for text messages. On the Amiga, movement is achieved
by pointing the mouse in the desired direction; commands
are also selected using the mouse. 64 owners use keys
for commands (selected by initial letters) and can also
use a joystick to control all movement. General commands
include Look For Traps (one of the party must have the
Detect Traps skill), Take/Drop items, and Inspect surroundings
exploring the lands, dungeons and seas (by buying a
boat), enemies are often encountered. Combat takes place
as soon as you are spotted by hostile creatures. The
display switches to that of the combat 'arena' with
the characters this time portrayed separately. For each
combat round, every character gets a certain number
of action points (equal to his Speed) to use for movement
and attack. To attack an enemy the character must be
adjacent to it -- there are no missile-firing weapons.
Characters may also Dodge enemy attacks, making themselves
harder to hit. Wizards may cast a variety of useful
spells during combat, although powerful mass destruction
spells (such as Fire Storm which coves a 5x5 block area)
cannot be used in the first round of combat. If your
party is outnumbered, you can always make a quick escape
by running to the edge of the arena, although all characters
must leave at the same point. Alternatively, if you
successfully kill all enemies you are rewarded with
their possessions and money (even rats carry gold pieces!)
Scattered around the landscape are lots of towns. It's
a good idea to enter one of these at the start of your
quest, to buy weapons and provisions from merchants
-- a bit of shrewd haggling can get you a lower price.
However, merely buying a powerful weapon does not entitle
a character to use it; he must have the relevant skill
and enough strength. For some reason characters must
also Equip themselves with weapons and armour before
they can be used. This option is only accessible when
in Camp: fortunately the party can Camp at any time,
bringing another set of options into play, including
Hunt for food. Sleep (this restores lost hit and spell
points), and Worship.
latter involves a character with Priest or Shaman skills
praying to his deity -- there are ten different gods
who can each come to your aid (it they hear you) in
combat or camp. Each one can only help in one way, such
as resurrecting a character, lifting your party out
of danger, and killing your foes. However, each character
can only worship one deity and becoming a priest costs
valuable intellect points. Gods also need to be kept
happy by praying to them and making donations when you
find a relevant temple (each town has a single temple
devoted to one of the gods).
you'll already have gathered, Demon's Winter
is an RPG that owes much to Dungeons and Dragons in
both scenario and game mechanics, although the gameplay
is nowhere near as deep as in the superior official
D&D game, Curse Of The Azure Bonds (reviewed
here, in case you're blind!). Still, the world of Ymros
is massive (32 times larger than SSl's Shard Of Spring)
and will take weeks if not months of play to fully explore.
The game is easy enough to get into, with its easy-to-use
command system and simple combat routines, although
the latter are not as satisfying as in Curse.
The game's main flaw is undoubtedly its dull appearance
(especially on the Amiga); the graphics are very simple
and largely unanimated even in combat, and sound is
virtually non-existent. Actual gameplay is reasonable,
but not as interesting as Curse.