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text of the present article comes from the C64 review
published in the fifty eighth issue of the British magazine
ZZAP!64 (Street date: January 18th, 1990), the Amiga review
published in the seventy first issue (Street date: February
14th, 1991) and the Interplay interview published in the
fifty sixth issue (Street date: November 16th, 1989).
C64 (disk only) £16.99
read my waffle in the in intro about what I consider
to be an adventure, you may be wondering why I'm reviewing
an RPG game in this section. The real reason (before
it gets edited out) is nobody else on the ZZAP! team
has the brain power to cope with games that require
thought. Anyway, modern RPGs and adventures are such
close bed partners it's getting harder to distinguish
read Ed's intriguing interview with Interplay President,
Brian Fargo (ish 56) and having not enjoyed the Bard's
Tale trilogy, it was with mixed emotions that I
loaded Dragon Wars. The front cover of the oddly
sized box that houses the game is adorned with a Boris
Vallejo painting -- I could have said 'an amazingly
brilliant painting' but if you're familiar with Boris's
work you'll know the adjectives are redundant -- does
the program do the packaging credit?
seems an age since you embarked on your voyage of discovery.
You and your crew were intent on finding the legendary
land of Dilmun. When the excited cry from the crow's
nest echoed across the vastness of the open sea, your
heart raced with anticipation. Could this be the fabled
land of magic and dragons?
a course through an ever-narrowing fjord, your snip
sailed towards an unknown city. As the gangplank lowered,
you paused to thank the powers that lie for guiding
you to your goal. But (an' it's a big but) as soon as
the ship berthed, city guards rushed on board and arrested
everyone. They selected one in ten of your men for sacrifice
to the dragons and stripped all others of their possessions
to leave them desolate in the dirt-filled streets of
their aptly-named city, Purgatory.
is at this point, dear reader, that your adventure begins.
Armed with absolutely nothing, your (and what's left
of your party's) aim is to survive and, should you get
sufficiently cocky, possibly kick some bum. A demonic
type, by the name of Namtar, the Beast From The Pit,
is to blame for your predicament, so revenge-may not
be so easy.
play commences you're given the choice of beginning
n new adventure or continuing from a saved position
(you're only allowed one saved game) and you're advised
to make backup copies of all three double-sided disks
-- do they think we're made of magnetic media? It is
at this stage that a Utilities option appears, through
which you may make back-up copies or load characters
from any of the Bard's Tale trilogy. You can
enter Purgatory with four in-built adventurers or create
your own party members.
have many attributes: the more usual Strength, Dexterity,
and Intelligence plus skills in magic, townlore, climbing,
swimming and so on. The list is very long, which either
gives the game depth or makes it incredibly complicated,
depending on your point of view (he said democratically).
Once you' re happy with your gang, it's time to go walkabout.
As you wander around Purgatory, looking for a way out,
you come across gangs of people just waiting to smash
your face in. Thankfully, there is a Run option so if
you don't feel like dying you can usually escape.
running away is a hiding to nowhere, as being successful
in combat is the only way to gain experience points
and gold. Combat options are extensive, therefore, if
you think about what you're doing, you should get through
most scrapes without too much hassle. But don't go mad
'cause there are some mean monsters around, just waiting
to have a party . . . your party.
explorations you may come across areas that refer to
paragraphs in the manual accompanying Dragon Wars.
Reading the indicated passage gives you more info on
your surroundings and may help you make the right move
to progress. If you get lost, there's an Automap option
which provides a bird's-eye view of your immediate area,
although it only details locations visited. Screen layout
is neat: split into three main areas displaying your
front view (or enemies, in confrontation mode), your
party members and their overall condition, and text
messages. All graphics are nicely drawn and, considering
the game's size, animation is smart; I particularly
liked the Wolf (and its identical canines: the Wild
Dog, the Wild Hound, and the Big Dog).
fact Dragon Wars is massive! Purgalory takes
ages to explore and there are eight more similar-sized
cities shown in the Holiday Guide To Dilmun, plus underground
complexes and, should you be dumb enough to sell yourself
as a slave you'll also discover a mine . . . er, so
I'm told. As with most games of this type, constantly
saving your position and exploring every nook and cranny
of the first city should stand you in good stead for
when you travel further afield. Trying to progress too
quickly could bring you to a sticky end.
touch of tedium did raise its head when at one point
confrontations occurred with every other step I took,
but the Run Away option eased the situation quite a
would have liked more time to look at Dragon Wars.
As it was, I played it for about sixteen hours and was
just beginning to get somewhere when this issue's schedule
interrupted. The fact that I wanted to continue my adventure
in Dilmun puts this latest Interplay RPG shampoo above
the Bard's Tale trilogy. I like it. I even like
it enough to give it a much deserved Sizzler! And now
if you'll excuse me, I have six Pikemen to sort out.
Arts, Amiga £24.99
what seems like ages Interplay have produced a new RPG
for the Amiga. Dragon Wars (C64 version: 90%,
Issue 58) supports characters from the Bard's Tale
series, and so it should because you could have called
this game Bard's Tale 4 and nobody would have
raised an eyebrow.
and your party are off to find Dilmun, a legendary city.
You know the sort of thing -- pavements paved with gold,
buses run on time, etc. However, after being shipwrecked
you are imprisoned on suspicion of spellcasting, a habit
which has been recently outlawed by the dastardly King
Drake. You begin the game in Purgatory, from which you
have taken the Bard's Tale system and upgraded
selected elements in an effort to update it. The most
important (but probably the most invisible) change is
the introduction of an intricate plot. Interplay's Brian
Fargo once told me that you could fully describe Bard's
Tale 1 in about ten seconds (he did so as well!).
Dragon Wars introduces a much better 'story',
utilising more character interaction, strange clues,
and so on. The manual contains paragraphs which you
are directed to by the program at certain points in
combat is improved with quite complex choices on ranged
combat, type of attack and defence. Spells have been
extended to include more spell categories. You have
no need to learn a massive spellbook, though. In order
to be a wizard you select from one of four different
types of magic: High, Low, Sun and Druid. Indeed, the
spells must be learnt by finding scrolls with the spell
inscribed on them. Furthermore, in order to cast certain
spells, you must decide how many points of power to
put into them. Therefore, the game includes much more
resource management than most fantasy games. It means
that even the lowest spell never becomes obsolete. The
stronger the magician gets, the mightier the spell has
the potential of being.
have been redesigned by including skills (bandaging,
etc) and knowledge of various 'lore', such as forest
and mountain lore. There is also an excellent 3-D automapping
option, one of the best I've ever seen.
end product is an RPG which is far better balanced than
the Bard's Tale series ever was. Even though
the scenery looks a little false on occasion and the
walls seem paper thin at times, the character animation
is much improved. Graphics as a whole are very good,
with sound and spot sound effects enhancing the atmosphere.
The minimalist reports (character stats, etc) do not,
though. Couldn't anybody think up a more presentable
report than black writing on a plain white background?
Dragon Wars is an enjoyable romp, delivering
a good helping of humour.
is the development team behind the incredibly successful
Bard's Tale series: RPG games popular even with
many arcade game fans. Now they've gone independent
and are set to release the most sophisticated RPG yet
seen -- Dragon Wars. STUART WYNNE talked to company
president Brian Fargo about his creation of an alternative
decision to split with Electronic Arts in the States
was a brave one for Interplay, and while Battle Chess
and Neuromancer made for an impressive debut,
Dragon Wars is the big project. If it's successful,
a series of games seems likely. The RPG market is an
intensely commpetitive one though -- SSI are enjoying
massive success with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,
Origin continue to develop the Ultima series,
while FTL's Dungeon Master has put a whole new
slant on the genre.
a lengthy transatlantic trip, Brian Fargo might be expected
to be rather tired, but was in fact full of enthusiasm
over Dragon Wars. For people, like me, tired
of the relentless combat in Bard's, Brian had
was determined to get the feel of a real D&D campaign.
We've done away with the 'arena' style, with relentless
combat for no reason. At the start of the game it's
virtually impossible to die. Combat starts at about
30 feet, so you can always run away from it. If you
do get into fights you get 'stun' damage initially,
so normally you'll fall unconscious before your health
gets too low. I've been trying to hook my wife on it,
and she certainly, wouldn't keep playing if you kept
dying in the first few minutes.'
it going to be a lot easier?
not so much the objective as realism, all the attacks
are logical and you usually get good warning. Also,
although it's harder to die now, if you do die it's
effectively permanent. There is a location that you
can use to resurrect characters, but it's very hard
big is Dragon Wars?
has a huge map, including 40 dungeons which range in
size from 8x8 to 32x32. Of course, by dungeon I just
mean a game area; many of them are above ground. The
size has allowed us to make it a lot more realistic.
There are a lot of sub-adventures which you can go on,
have a lot of fun with, but aren't really vital to winning.
There are very few things you need to do to win, and
usually there's more than one way of doing something.
A lot of the time a puzzle will protect something, like
an armoury, very useful for your quest but you can go
on without it. I hate adventures where one puzzle stops
the whole game for you.'
other changes are there?
combat has been refined. You can now control battles
a lot more precisely if you want. More importantly the
chararters have been made more credible. They can now
do pretty much anything you want, a wizard can act as
a thief for example. But obviously those who specialize
get better at their professions.'
the plot like?
our best ever, definitely. I'll give you an example.
There's this castle under siege, and you're supposed
to sneak in and do some damage to these villains. But
when you get in you find some people who tell you they're
the good guys, the baddies are on the outside. So you've
got a choice. There are lots of these in Dragon Wars.
We've also interlinked things, so people come up to
you and say 'Hey, you killed my brother, I'm going to
in the future for Interplay?
we're wonting on some Nintendo products -- it's such
a huge market in the US now, and on the other end of
the scale a CD ROM version of Battle Chess. It's
unbelievable working with CD, there's no limit on memory.
There's also a game based on a book license, which I
only games must be a big temptation.
is, and we might do something 16-bil only, but we went
into the C64 market to give it a good RPG and we've
got a lot of loyalty to the machine. Dragon Wars
uses C64 sprites to produce great colours and animation.
We think it's going to do really well.'
you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness' Classic
Adventures Solution Archive or
C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site
Kiminas (6 Mar 2010)
The original C64 review contained only the first of
its above screenshots. The original Amiga review contained
the Amiga version of the first of its above screenshots.
"Games of the Week!"