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Default CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part Four)

July 4th, 2011, 21:47
Here we go with the fourth installment of the review roundup:
Backtracking: Zyll (1984) - In Zyll, you play a young warrior, wizard, or thief on a quest to recover the great treasures of your kingdom (the Land of Magic and Enchantment) from the evil wizard Zyll, who has stolen them. You also must steal Zyll's black orb--the artifact that gives him his power and has allowed him to turn your kingdom to a wasteland. There are other minor treasures to take, too, and the game isn't just about "winning" but rather achieving the highest possible score when you do.
Backtracking: Amulet of Yendor (1985) - Amulet of Yendor (this is the MobyGames name; in the game itself it seems to be called Yendor's Castle) involves a quest to retrieve the Orb of Power forged by the elven wizard Yendor. It takes place on an 8-level dungeon with 64 rooms (8x8) each. As in Wizard's Castle, the rooms contain various monsters, pools, chests, books, treasure, vendors, and other assorted items. You have to fight monsters to find an artifact called the Runestaff which teleports you to Yendor's Orb. Winning the game involves leaving the dungeon with Yendor's Orb in your possession, at which point you are given a score based on the treasure you've collected and the monsters you've slain.
Backtracking: Leygref's Castle (1986) - Leygref's Castle is essentially the same game but with much more tolerable graphics and gameplay. You are once again after an Orb of Power, this time forged by the elf wizard Leygref instead of Yendor. Other than the name change, the instructions are word-for-word identical to those in Amulet of Yendor (although this game helpfully gives you the opportunity to bypass them). Improvements include a map that remains in front of you throughout the game and more information about your status and inventory on the screen. There are few other tricks introduced by the game, including a mysterious jerk called "The Phantom" who shows up and steals your stuff and the chance of going blind (I was never able to cure this). The author of this one, a Frank Dutton of either Texas or Louisiana, deserves a lot of credit for this version, and if you're really eager to play one of the Wizard's Castle derivatives, this is the one I'd recommend.
Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony (1985) - Moebius is notable in a lot of other ways. It is the first CRPG (that I know of) based on eastern philosophy and themes. Perhaps an exception is Ultima IV with its inclusion of avatarhood, but this is really just the use of a term. Moebius is set in a quasi-Asian fantasy kingdom with frequent use of Asian (or, at least, pseudo-Asian) symbology, names, weapons, and combat styles. Confucius quotes appear throughout the manual. There aren't many other games that do this. I think of Jade Empire and…any others? (Other than JRPGs, of course.)
Larn (1986) - Larn is an embellished roguelike. As with most roguelikes, the graphics are very sparse. Your character is represented by an @. Monsters are letters. Walls are pound signs (#). And so on. Interaction is through a fairly large selection of keyboard commands in which capitalization matters. You don't want to mix up (r)ead a scroll with (R)emove gems from throne, because the latter has a nasty habit of sending a gnome king to kill you.
Rings of Zilfin (1986) - Game World. Reasonably good back story about the lost Zilfins and the rise of the evil Dragos. If a bit derivative, at least offers some original elements like the inaccessible castle and the drug-addicted guardian. Generally the gameplay itself does not live up to the manual's backstory. Score: 5.

Final score: 26. The best I can say is I liked it better than Ultima II.

The Shard of Spring (1986) - [i]Shard of Spring ends up being a pretty linear game. You know how I feel about that. As you move across the landscape, you encounter towns and dungeons in a very specific order, and while you can blow past them and jump right on to harder dungeons, it's very inadvisable to do so, because 1) you need objects that you get in previous dungeons to fully complete subsequent ones; and 2) they're too hard …More information.
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July 4th, 2011, 21:47
Holy shit. I have never seen anyone, ever, mention The Shard of Spring before. That brings me back (and dates me).
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July 5th, 2011, 00:02
Ok… turns out I started gaming even earlier than I thought.

Go Zyll!! Man, I had those function keys down to a science on my Dad's old IBM. Game just didn't feel the same after they changed the layout of the standard US keyboard to have f1-12 across the top instead of along the left side. Zyll totally pwned me with the new keyboard, for some reason.
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July 5th, 2011, 00:48
I've played Shard of Spring too, Santos. It seems like Wizard's Crown, Eternal Dagger, and Shard of Spring all came out about the same time. At least in my ancient memory….

I think Larn rings a bell to me, but from a book series, not a game. I think an Isle of Larn was a prominent destination….
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