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Magic Mazes

When a few years ago I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, I was sure that it was an experience that would make a great computer game. But as I progressed further and further into the game I realised that it would be practically impossible to write unless it was reduced to simple terms, such as collect the treasure, and kill the monsters.

Having reached this conclusion I dropped all desire to write such a game as I thought that it would have very little ability to hold the player's interest.

Sadly, Blaby Software appears to have disagreed with me and has produced this rather simple game, The Sword And The Sorcerer. The idea of the game is to wander around the maze (255 locations), collecting the three pieces of the key and then finding the locked door and escaping. To hinder your progression in this cause there are a seemingly unending string of monsters waiting in the various rooms.

The screen display is in mode 4 screen 1, and is very well done. A small frame to the left of the screen shows the view ahead of you complete with monsters, weapons, and whatever else happens to be in the room (i.e. food).

Two smaller frames to the right show your attack and defence weapons as icons and beneath these frames there is a list of the available options (the game is played entirely by single key choice from lists - good news for those who hate working out the appropriate words in an adventure). A very terse description of the monster in the room (such as "There is a Unicorn here") is printed underneath the main frame (no pun intended) together with reports of your strength when appropriate and other lists of options.

Movement is via the arrow keys and leaves the display very confused as, if the left arrow is pressed, the player will turn to the left and then move one space, but. if there is no door on the left wall, the player will neither move nor turn. Get it? As you can imagine this makes mapping a necessity, but also, as a side effect, extremely difficult.

As you start at a different point in the maze every game using old maps becomes more trouble than making a new one! This is all very tiresome.

The major fault with the game though is that it is very boring. There is no real strategy and, most importantly, no option to "be ingenious" - surely one of the most satisfying parts of playing role playing games.

This program bears an astounding similarity to Star Swoop: it's pretty and well-written but has no sustained challenge. However, as an introduction to Dungeons & Dragons for the masochist, it may fill a gap!