Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shard of Spring: Meh

The big boss in the first dungeon.

Shard of Spring isn't exactly a bad game; it's just that nothing's grabbing me. It seems like a good game for 1983, about three years earlier than it was actually published. After Might & Magic, though, the limited inventory, monochrome images, and basic quests that Shard of Spring offers seem a little lame.

Since I last posted, I built up my characters a bit with outdoor combat and outfitted them with the best weapons and armor that the first town had to offer. I'm above what the manual says are the number of experience points I need for Level 2, but apparently I need to find a guild to train my characters up to Level 2, and there's none in the two towns I've discovered so far.

I explored the first dungeon, Black Fort, rescued a priest, and killed the evil ruler of the dungeon.


The dungeons do offer a combination of random encounters--lots of 'em--and fixed encounters like the one below:


Just FYI, his skill and ferocity availed him naught:


The combat, as I said earlier, is fairly tactical. You can't sleepwalk your way through it. The game does offer you the ability to rest, but only every eight hours or so, and even when you do, you don't fully heal. Thus, it's more like Wizardry than Might & Magic in that you're forced to conserve spell points and try to survive a series of combats instead of one combat at a time. As much as I like the tactical nature of the game, the combats are extremely repetitive and the limited amount of movement makes them annoying. My troll character hardly ever gets to fight because by the time he actually makes it over to a foe, the combat is usually over. Mostly the game makes me anticipate the similar but better combat I know I'll find in Pool of Radiance.

After each battle, I find at least one weapon. These need to be tediously identified, however, by my spellcasters, each of whom can only identify one per day. I have a huge backlog of weapons waiting to be ID'd. When I do identify them, they turn out to be basic maces and swords, and since the game doesn't offer you any option to sell weapons, I guess I just have to drop them.

I'm glad I found an online manual, though. Without it, I wouldn't even be able to play: at every startup, the game asks you a question from the manual as a copy protect feature.

1980s DRM

The manual is also necessary to understand the spells. When you cast them, you have to type the full name (as far as I can tell). This is a little annoying for such incantations as COLUMN OF FIRE and BREATH OF LIFE.


So I'm torn about finishing this one. On the one hand, I keep hearing about how cool Starflight (my next game) is; on the other, I hear that Shard of Spring is over fairly quickly. Moreover, school is back in session this week, and I'm taking two classes and teaching three, so perhaps I'd better stick with an easy game I already know. I also have a bias towards finishing games if I'm going to be playing their sequels, and Demon's Winter is coming up in 29 games. Any opinions from people who've played Shard of Spring to the end? Does it get more interesting?

4 comments:

  1. If it's not unfairly abusing you like Wizardry 2 and 3 were then I say finish it. This is a complete run of the history of CRPGs, and quitting a normal sized game because it's only a 'C' game instead of an 'A' isn't really a good enough reason IMO. Sounds harsh, but I hold myself to the same standard; unless the game is an 'F' I have to finish it no matter what :).

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  2. Agreed.
    Also consider that you tread some new ground here as many of those older games aren't documented online, yet. Try to find a nice review with several screenshots on Rings of Zilfin, for example...
    You are a real pioneer, Sir - it's your duty! ;-)

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  3. What you've seen is the staple of crpgs to come. Tile overland map, dungeon, overland, dungeon, overland, dungeon, bos fight.

    starflight is cool, but its the same stuff over and over, just like SOS is.

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  4. What? No mention of the monotone 7-note music the game plays when you kill a monster? I can still remember the tune... :)

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