Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Knights of Legend: Final Rating

A blond 1980s guy tries, and fails, to look menacing.

Knights of Legend
United States
Origin Systems (developer and publisher)Released 1989 for DOS, Apple II, Commodore 64
Date Started: 24 March 2013
Date Ended: 20 May 2013
Total Hours: 96
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.5/5)
Final Rating: 43
Ranking at Time of Posting: 73/94 (78%)

Knights of Legend is the damnedest game. If you've been following my postings, it must have been baffling every time you saw a new one. Its deficiencies are just jaw-dropping: no sound; the inability to trade gold from one character to another; a training system that doesn't allow you to progress beyond novice level in some weapons or even at all in others; ten keyboard commands just to move one step; almost no keyboard shortcuts; incorrect information given in the manual about everything from statistics to spells; a needlessly complex spell system; enormous combat maps where you spend half your time just trying to find your enemy; an absurdly Spartan approach to saving the game; and a bug at the very end of the game that would have prevented most pre-Internet players from winning.

And yet, there are moments of genius and stark originality: the "foresight" system in combat; beautiful graphics; a well-designed world and story; memorable NPCs who respond to keywords; the ability to fit armor to each character; a large selection of interesting character classes; a tactical combat system with dozens of options, but all of them logical; and a "trophy" screen that anticipates the "achievements" of the modern era. Things take maddeningly long in the game, but they happened just often enough--a difficult enemy falls, a quest map is cleared, a new trophy is obtained--to give a shot of dopamine right when it was necessary, and to keep me playing all the way to the end. PetrusOctavianus (perhaps the game's most prominent champion on my blog) had the right term a few days ago: "morbidly addictive."

It's tempting to call it a "flawed masterpiece," but it's far too flawed for that. I absolutely cannot recommend it, but at the same time, I'm a little disappointed if my coverage didn't make you want to check it out at least briefly. I don't know how this is going to translate into a numeric score, but let's see:

1. Game World. The back story is very detailed, well-written, compelling, and utterly inconsequential to the game itself. In its description of the land, the history, the races, and the present set of circumstances, Knights of Legend lives up to Origin's best titles. As you wander the land, you encounter interesting personalities in the towns and keeps. But the core of the gameplay--the quests and combats--are completely divorced from this story. They could be happening anywhere (with the sole exception of the final battle). Enemy fortresses and keeps don't even appear on the map until you get a specific quest to assail them. Hardly any of your actions effect permanent changes in the gameworld. Score: 5.

2. Character Creation and Development. You select your six characters from a list of classes defined by their geography (e.g., Krag barbarians, Htron pirates, Poitle Lock rogues) or histories (e.g., the reformed Dark Guards). Again, these sound awesome, but once selected, the classes essentially become a set of numbers and lose any ability to role-play these rich histories. The game is unique in having shopkeepers and innkeepers that will refuse to serve certain races and classes, though this is more an annoyance than a feature.

An armorer reacts harshly, but understandably, to a Dark Guard in his shop.

In terms of development, there isn't much. The primary mechanism is the accumulation of "adventure points" which you can spend on offensive and defensive skills with various weapons. Building these skills is absolutely crucial to the party's ability to survive in combat, which makes the game's approach to training all the more mystifying. Certain trainers will only work with you if you have a certain minimum skill, but there's nowhere in the game to get that skill. Some trainers are the sole trainers in certain weapons, but only go up to 20 or 30 skill points where others go up to 60-70. The result is that you max out on favored weapons very early, and if you want to keep leveling the character, you have to train in random weapons that he probably will never use.

Hela at game's end. 45 is the highest you can get with the halberd, so I trained her in random other weapons to keep leveling her. She still ended the game with 2,366 adventure points.

There really isn't any reason to "level," though--which requires a visit to the arena after you've channeled enough points into training. The only benefit, other than the ability to train more (which ceases to be a benefit once you've maxed in your primary weapon) is that your "title" increases. As a "commoner--apprentice," Hela is about one-third of the way between "peasant" and "knight-baronet." The value of the title, as far as I can tell, is only in the player's satisfaction in achieving it.

And yet, even though real character development is limited to adding offensive and defensive points to weapons, there's some authentic satisfaction associated with doing so, and the effects are palpable in combat. I wish there had been more to it, but I can't say that there isn't any development. Score: 5.

3. NPCs. One of the more interesting parts of the game, even though (like the game world and story), they exert very little influence on the mechanics of gameplay. They're memorable and well-written, with well-designed character portraits, and interacting with them uses the keyword approach that I like in so many Origin titles. Unfortunately, there are no dialogue choices or role-playing opportunities. Score: 5.

 A touching bit of back story from an NPC that amounts to very little.

4. Encounters and Foes. The various foes you face in the game are well-described in the manual and satisfying in their variety of strengths and weaknesses. Many of them are unique to the game, though based on common tropes. Aside from the text you get before each mission, though, there are no "encounters" as such, and no real way to role-play your approach to the various enemies. It's also a bit banal the way that every combat features only a single enemy type. Score: 4.

The "mist giants" are original-ish.

5. Magic and Combat. Combat is the highlight of the game: extremely tactical, with options that we don't see in any other games to date. I love the ability to anticipate the enemy's actions, to choose from a variety of attack and defense types depending on the circumstances, and to use the terrain to the advantage of the party. If the quest-based combats weren't so large and so long, I'd be unabashedly positive about this aspect of the game (and those issues are really more of a gameplay item than a combat item).

Partly concealed in a doorway, Coll kills the final enemy in the game.

The magic system is a little less successful. I didn't fully explore it, but then again, I didn't really need to; it's essentially optional. The system--stringing together syllables to make spells that have various effects on various creatures of various strengths and various ranges--is unusual and interesting, but the reality of the game doesn't match the description in the manual, and I didn't feel like puzzling through the confusion. It's a little odd that all spells tie to the eight attributes; there's no "fireball" spell or anything like that. You directly damage health, fatigue, and stuff instead. Spells are keyed to specific creatures or classes of creatures, so if you want spells to damage every possible class at long range, for instance, you need five separate spells. Still, the game deserves some credit for allowing spell customization; it's perhaps the first game in my chronology to do so. 

For magic, I never experimented beyond healing spells.

The system of damage to body parts and the importance of fatigue are also strong characteristics of this game. The bottom line is that if you enjoy this game at all, it's almost certainly for this category. Score: 8.

6. Equipment. This is another reasonably good category. In an era where most games offer perhaps a weapon, a suit of armor, and a shield--and you always buy the best one--this game features 11 wearable equipment slots plus 7 pockets. You have to carefully balance protection with weight so as not to overly-fatigue your characters, and armor requires custom fitting to offer the best protection. My only complaint is that you don't find much good equipment in the game--a handful of magic items and weapon upgrades--and there's no reason not to finish the game with essentially the same armor purchases you started with. Also, some of the weapon slots go unused: I never found a single necklace or belt in the game, and only two rings. (Perhaps these were planned for expansions.)

Coll proudly displays his gear.

Finally, there were far too many shops selling bafflingly worthless items. The ability to create "forged" items from a few ingots is really not that impressive since you don't get to determine anything about the result except the name. Score: 5.

What would I possibly do with any of this?

7. Economy. There are quite a few things to purchase in the game: equipment, horses, healing, training, and rooms at inns. It's enough that gold is precious at the beginning of the game, and you pick up every stray weapon you can from slain enemies to sell. After you max your training in the various weapons and buy the best horses, gold loses its value considerably. The inability to trade gold among characters is a bizarre interface oversight. Score: 4.

8. Quests. There isn't exactly a "main quest" in the game, though the manual seems to set one up. Instead, you get a series of 24 quests organized into various groupings. Once you finish 23 of them, the ultimate one is sort-of the "main" quest, concerning the rescue of the knight Seggallion. The quests are perhaps the most disappointing part of the game. They all feature the exact same dynamic, centering around the annihilation of a group of enemies and the retrieval of some talisman, and they offer no role-playing choices (except perhaps whether to kill all the enemies or just take the object and run). Since you have to complete them all to get the last one, I can't really regard any of them as "side quests." The trophies were a nice touch. Score: 3.

9. Graphics: I thought the graphics were beautiful. Certainly, a lot of work went into them, from the animated opening to the well-drawn monster and NPC portraits, to the establishing shots every time you enter a city or keep.

These shots even tell you something about the basic layout of the interior.

This is balanced by no sound at all (except during the opening animation) and a frankly horrible interface. There's no reason that common commands couldn't be mapped to letter keys: "I" to access inventory, "A" to attack, "S" to shoot, and so on. Instead, I got repetitive stress in two of my right fingers from constantly hitting the < and > keys, the only way to scroll through menu commands without the mouse. Other interface elements, such as the cumbersome method of trading and equipping items and the inability to trade gold made the game absolutely maddening. In this category, the game only gets credit for the graphics. Score: 2.

10. Gameplay. This one is tough. I have to give it some points for nonlinearity, since you can do the quest "groups" in just about any order. It also gets some small credit for replayability given the huge number of character classes, although this would affect nothing but combat tactics and it's impossible seeing myself spend another 50+ hours on the game. Neither can I say that it's too "hard," exactly, except for a few challenging battles. The game's basic problem is that it's tedious. Everything takes too long in this game: navigating the combat map, finding enemies in combat, killing them, finishing all 24 quests, shuttling between the arena and training sites, staving off random combats as you try to get from place to place, even equipping weapons and armor. Saying that the game is "like a guest at a party who overstays his welcome" isn't enough. It's like a guest who overstays his welcome so long that he's still there for the next party, and then he hangs out too long after that one, too.

The way this game could have been much, much better is to have only about 12 quests, maybe in groups of 3 with some kind of major plot point after each one. But the real assemblage of 24 quests, 21 of which were completely unmemorable, is exhausting. I was ready for it to be over in March. Score: 3.

The numbers add up to 44, but I'm subtracting one point for an unforgivable bug, which puts the final score at 43. That's not bad as things go. It puts it in the top 25% of games I've played so far, on par with games I honestly enjoyed, like Star Command, Demon's Winter, and Chaos Strikes Back. But this is the rare type of game that's lesser than the sum of its parts. There are some really good elements here that just don't effectively come together in what we might call a "good" game. If the score doesn't adequately reflect that, I hope the text does.

At least I'm not the only one of two minds about the game. Dragon apparently reviewed it twice, completely panning it in March 1990 and then giving it 5/5 stars in May 1990 in a review that praised Porter for his programming skills and called it an "outstanding adventure." MobyGames currently has two user reviews for the game; one is titled "Knights of Legend is a turn-based role-playing game that is well-developed" and the other is titled "Gaming hell." The bigger problem seems to be magazines that didn't review it, though. Scorpia gave hints for the game in the March 1990 Computer Gaming World, but the magazine otherwise seems to have ignored it. I'm not sure how well it was publicized; I scanned six issues of CGW and couldn't find a single ad for it.

The manual has a touching story about how developer Todd Mitchell Porter created the basic concept for the game with three fellow RPG lovers while sitting around a restaurant table in Pella, Iowa in 1981. Porter tinkered with developing it for a while, and he got extremely lucky when a friend introduced him to Richard Garriott. Garriott both optioned the game and hired Porter, who worked a bit on Times of Lore (1988) before his creation was published in 1989.

The reception must have been difficult for Porter. He planned a host of expansions that, thanks to flat sales, were now impossible. But he stayed at Origin for a while and is credited on Ultima VI (where Seggallion returns!). He went on to develop a strategy game for SSI called Renegade Legion: Interceptor (1990) and is credited on several other games before he transitioned into other industries. He says he now makes software for the casino industry. He stopped by and commented on my second-to-last posting a couple of days ago, so be sure to check that out.

We're now going to divert to NetHack for at least one posting while I try to figure out if Romance of the Three Kingdoms is really an RPG.


  1. Frankly, RoTK is a strategy game with RPG elements, but
    it might fit the official description. Eh, play it anyway. It'll be a nice change of pace. Also, if you play RoTK, that means you'll have to play Sword of Aragon too, and SoA is *awesome*.

    1. The question is what specific "RPG elements" RoTK includes. I keep reading that term in reviews of the game, but they have to be MY specific RPG elements, or it gets cut.

    2. Hmm... I can't really think of anything in ROT3K that would qualify it as a CRPG. You do play the "role" of whichever warlord you choose, and he does have semi-randomly generated stats, but it's all within the context of a military and diplomatic strategy game. There's no leveling up, just recruiting/capturing better generals and the training level of your troops, which will decrease every time you recruit new ones. There's no equipment or items, just the arms level of your troops, which again will decrease each time you add more men. There were some items that you could randomly find (like special swords or horses) and give to your generals to increase their abilities, but I'm not sure that element even appears in the series until ROT3K 2. There are no quests, just preset historical scenarios that you can choose to start your game from. WInning the game means capturing and controlling all the provinces, not slaying some evil wizard/dragon, etc. So, no, I can't really think of any true CRPG elements in this game, only things that might SEEM like they're RPG elements. It should be kept in mind that the original game dates all the way back to 1985 on Japanese computers, and was in turn directly inspired by Koei's other hit strategy title Nobunaga's Ambition, which actually goes back all the way to 1983, so this genre was evolving separately alongside the early Japanese CRPG scene. Other series followed, many with these same game elements, just revised or expanded to fit the particular game scenario. This was a well established genre in Japan by the late 80s, and no one over there ever called them RPGs, that's for sure (they tend to use the term simulation or "SLG" for games like this). Some of the individual campaigns I completed over the years really took on a sort of "historical sweep" of their own, with certain memorable battles, alliances and betrayals, etc. (especially when playing with friends), that in many ways are more memorable than most RPGs I've completed, but it's a distinctly different experience. I guess playing is believing though, so you can see for yourself. They're fantastic games, in any case!

      P.S. ROT3K actually came out in 1988 for western computers, not 1989. It was the NES version that hit shelves the following year.

  2. That's only the 3rd 8 you have given for combat. Did you really enjoy it as much as PoR & DM?

    1. Well, no. But I think the reason I didn't enjoy it as much was the tediousness of finding the enemy and the interface. The actual combat MECHANIC I did enjoy at least as much--it's fair to say that's the only thing that kept me playing the game.

      I figured I already hit the game on the interface and gameplay elements in those categories, so I should subtract it from combat, too.

  3. Ouah Todd Porter did comment! He should know We still patiently wait for the release of expansion. And a bit of UI overhaul.

    Leveling, according to the manual, or some walkthrough, is the only way to increase your Foresight. So the only ingame advantage of leveling, is to better be able to predict ennemies moves. Which is crucial.
    The disaddvantage, is that random encounter seems to more dangerous as you level up.

    I'm kind of sad you didnt experiment a bit more with magic. Nobody use magic in this game. May be it could make fight less tedious, we'll never know.

    1. If leveling increases foresight, it's in some behind-the-scenes way. The actual foresight score didn't increase during the game. And frankly, I didn't notice the ability getting better as the characters leveled, though I suppose it's possible it was happening subtly.

      I can't imagine magic making fights less tedious since the most tedious thing about fights is FINDING the damned enemy. Once you actually encounter them, it's relatively exciting.

    2. No, the stats do not increase.

      Yes, foresight does increase drastically through levelling.

      Yes, magic is very powerful - "One Spell, one dead Mist Giant" do cost a couple of thousand adventure points, but it is fun!

  4. Excellent review, although I think you are too generous with your ratings on Encounters and Foes, Magic and Combat, and Equipment.
    I'd give the former a 2. KoL has easily the worst encounter design of any CRPG I've played. There is never more than one type of enemy in each encounter, they all use the same icon, and none of them ever use magic. The only slight variations is that they (at least in random encounters) can have different levels.

    Equipment is also rather limited, but plus point for actually having to fit your armour.

    As for CWG coverage of KoL, in my notes It says there were ads in the November and December 1989 issues.

    1. The problem is that I titled the category "encounters and foes," and I use it half to rate encounters and half to rate the quality of the enemies themselves. In this case, almost all the points were for that: I thought there was enough interesting variance in their AI and capabilities.

    2. Oh, on the ads: I found them. Last page. Same image I included above, actually. Thanks.

  5. Todd Mitchell Porter is on the credits for Ultima 6 probably because he wrote half of the soundtrack for it. I am not sure he had any other role in the design of U6.

  6. I was surprised as to the generosity of your GIMLET this time.

    Honestly, to this day, I adore this game and I do not know why. I have no idea why. Possibly it is the thrill of trying to survive and encounter with 18 goblins just for the heck of it?

  7. I almost feel bad for calling the game unmitigated garbage and an abortion of all that is gaming, knowing that Porter came by and could possibly have read the remarks- after all, he didn't MEAN to create a game that, in retrospect, he should have slit his wrists for in penance for having created (tortured English and all). He thought he had a good idea and so did Garriott (may he rot in Hell for his involvement in this game). Am I harsh? Well, yes, overly so. But still, for the sake of cruelty, I stand by my remarks.

  8. I was expecting your gimlet eagerly; indeed, how should one mark a game like that? In fact, I've been thinking about it today, and here is my solution! You should not give it a mark, but a mark distribution! Thus, 30 would be "consistently average", 20-40 "as often nice as boring", and 0-60 something like "magnificent failure" (which, I was also thinking, might be adequate for KoL, in place of "flawed masterpiece" - that would be a 40-80). What do you think? [I'm not sure it's clear I'm joking here, so I make it explicit: I'm joking :) ]

    Also, more seriously, the need to trade off weight and protection is something you meet again in the recent and excellent Dark Souls, with much more serious consequences than in the ElderScrolls for example. And I don't remember if it was featured in one of the games you reviewed before, or if it's a first.

    1. You know, I think you might be on to something. I don't think I want to change the GIMLET, but perhaps a separate "range" from 0-10 that indicates my overall enjoyment of the game from the worst times to the best times. So KoL would probably get something like a 2-8, whereas Ultima V, which was consistently fun throughout, might get a 7-8 and Don't Go Alone would get a 1-3.

      I could name it after my second-favorite drink, but it's going to be a pain in the neck to make an acronym out of OLD FASHIONED.

    2. The Kapacity for Excruciation To Enjoyment Level: KETEL. When I do my final rating, it will be the KETEL/GIMLET.

    3. Excellent! I'm glad I triggered something. And next times I'm in the United States I'll have to try these drinks :)

    4. No, I've got it. One of the key ingredients in a gimlet is Rose's Lime Juice. Hence, we get the RANGE OF SUFFERING to ENJOYMENT SCORE: ROSES.

      And a vodka gimlet is just vodka and lime juice. If you need to come to the U.S. to get either, there's something wrong with your bars.

    5. The context participates a lot to the drink, plus I generally drink beer in France so...

    6. Also they are better with Gin, because you know gin has flavor.

    7. Ah, yes, a comment frequently voiced by the inexperience drinker, who needs to work through the obvious flavors in a liquor like gin before he can progress to the more subtle variances in vodka.

    8. To my highly advanced palate, Gin tastes like liquid with a strong undercurrent of alcohol. If you gave it to me, I'd be able to tell you with confidence that it was neither beer nor wine.

    9. Wine is where my palate really falls apart. I can distinguish maybe three different flavors in wine, and everything else I swear my friends are just screwing with me.

      By the way, I think I sounded like a bit of a dick above if you don't realize I'm joking. roberski is right: gin has a lot more flavor, and variances in flavor, than vodka. I still like my gimlets with vodka anyway.

    10. It'd make sense that gin had more variation given what the drinks are flavoured with.

      It's hard to know when people can tell differences and when they're under the influence of confirmation bias. When we've done double-blind beer testing, people have matched beers to a provided set of names only slighter more accurately than would be expected from random guessing.

      Alcohol is a bit like Economics. Everyone's an expert. Unlike Economics though, there are actually some experts on alcohol. Like everything, it takes a lot of work to become one. (It sounds like you've spent a fair bit of time learning alcohol)

    11. When you spend 60-70% of your evenings in hotel bars, you have to start thinking of yourself as a "connoisseur"; otherwise, you're just a "drunk."

  9. I remembered reading a review of this game in ACE magazine (and possibly a general article on Origin in the same issue). I found the link to the review below:

    There are also a few other KOL reviews at the bottom of that page.

    It's a real shame about this game as it seems that Todd Porter was passionate about his game and had lots of good ideas. I've tried the game a few times but found the interface too frustrating. I'm still tempted to have another look through the manual though as I always loved the Origin manuals.

    1. ...and here's the link to the pages about Origin and KOL development.

    2. This is one of those reviews that I find baffling decades later. Consider: "There are no less than twenty-four the game (although you may ignore any or all of hem, and simply enjoy exploring the land)." That's something that would make sense if you said it about Skyrim. For KoL, it makes no sense; there's nothing to find while just "exploring the land."

      It says, "It is possible to save your characters during play by staying the night at an appropriate inn. This way you won't loose [sic] any gained possessions and experience points when you next play." It's like we're supposed to be wowed by the ability to save AT ALL in 1989. Like the default during the era was for a player to have to completely finish a game like KoL in one sitting.

      The comments about the enemy AI are interesting, though, and I find the concept of an "interest curve" intriguing, even if I don't agree with the assessment for this game.

    3. It's like they base their "review" on some press release from Origin...

    4. Actually, one of my hobbies is collecting vintage gaming magazines, and I notice this sort of thing a LOT. I mean, I used to read these magazines all the time back when they were originally published and they (mostly) seemed perfectly reasonable then, but when you go back over them years later it's often like "Huh?!? What were they thinking?". The frame of reference was simply very different back then. This wasn't limited to the computer gaming scene, either. For example, I once discovered a 1987 review by one of the earliest and most respected video game journalists in the US that confidently stated the NES version of Super Pitfall was a much better game than Super Mario Bros.!

      Also, keep in mind that ACE was a UK magazine. The UK and US computer gaming scenes were vastly different, and for various reasons the UK never really developed the obsession with complex disk-based RPGs that the US (and to a lesser extent Japan) did, so again, the frame of reference was quite different.

    5. Addict, Thanks a lot for the save game.

      "there's nothing to find while just "exploring the land.""

      Hey! Remember when you said how boring it was to get to the quest location, and then hunt for your target one by one. And then you had the best part: fighting them toe to toe.

      The last part is exactly what you get by "exploring the land". I tried one or two quest, but it's stupid and tedious. While exploring, you trigger random encounter, yours foes are right next to you, and you can enjoy the finelly crafted combat system.
      That the only way I can enjoy KoL. But I heard a guy on the net had it his way by suffering for hours through endless corridor looking for that last hidden brigand. hu hu hu.

    6. I guess, but as tedious as the quests are, they're what propels the game. I can't imagine having fun with the game just fighting random combats.

    7. Brain, you're helping to confirm a long-held hypothesis of mine: Brits don't really "get" CRPGs. I mean, look at my readership. I've got people from all over Europe, North America, what have you, but I don't think I have a single regular commenter from the Scepter'd isle.

    8. But...what about Lords of Midnight?Actually the first Ultima game i remember making it over to merrie olde england was the 5th I think which I bought for my Amiga...hated it.Anyway I have always loved the crpgs but come to think of it I never seem to have known anyone else who did so maybe you have a point.Also I have hardly ever commented here.But I love this blog.

    9. Lords of Midnight was a strategy game, not a CRPG.
      The Brits made some very good and groundbreaking games in the mid 80s, like Lords of Midnight and Elite, but after that? Not much.

    10. Perhaps the UK's reliance on tapes and the penetration of the Spectrum played a role there. British developers didn't seem to have much interest in the genre, and the audience for the early American imports wasn't really big I assume (the first Ultima that made it officially over was probably Ultima III by U.S.Gold).

      BTW. the two major German gaming publications of the time were also split about KOL, one (the ASM) calling it a hit game, while the other (Power Play) gave it a rather low score - 46 out of 100 for the PC version, citing overly long tedious battles among the criticisms. The C64 version got only 17 out of 100 because of the large loading times and disc swapping.

    11. Hello! I'm a Brit and I love CRPGs. They are mostly US created though, aren't they? You can probably chalk that up to the influence of D&D. Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone of Games Workshop imported D&D into the UK, as well as many other tabletop RPGs (such as the Chaosium games); however, the GW business model became progressively more involved in miniature battle games - Warhammer - and there isn't really a premier UK tabletop RPG to speak of. The Warhammer RPG is pretty much a sidenote. Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are the most popular evidence of the form, and are now a historical curio.

      But... to suggest that "The Brits made some very good and groundbreaking games in the mid 80s, like Lords of Midnight and Elite, but after that? Not much."... that's a little shortsighted. It seems strange to ignore titles such as DMA's Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto (and later the Rockstar GTAs); Core's Tomb Raider; Bullfrog's Populous, Theme games, Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper; Revolution's adventures, most obviously Broken Sword; Criterion's racing games (Burnout); all the Lego games from TT; Reflections' innovative driving games (Destruction Derby, Driver series); Championship Manager for the footy fans; the games of Rare's glory days in the 90s (Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie); Fable; anything by Julian Gollop (Chaos through X-Com); Little Big Planet; anything by Jeff Minter; the Total War games; Worms... These are all well known. Many lesser-known but similarly creative, innovative and excellently designed games were also made in the UK.

      It's all pretty irrelevant in response to a years-old blog forum thread, but I make and teach about games and use this blog as perhaps one of the most significant design information resources available anywhere, so I'd hate for a young games student to stumble upon this and imagine that the UK produced LoM and Elite and nothing much else... it seems like a gulf of ignorance too profound not to be bridged in whatever small way.

      - Richard.

    12. Arkham Asylum? That game is incredible.

      Speedball 2 was a big deal back in the day as well.

    13. I'm glad I read this post now after that list of company's, didn't know the UK made so many games though I only recognize one rpg, Fable so I guess chet's hypothesis still stands that Brits don't get crpgs.

  10. I just noticed that on the cover the guy's maille armor isn't even armor, it's just a drape of rings hanging from his neck. He's wearing a curtain.

    1. It's sexymail. Nice to know they put it on guys as well sometimes. Sheer enough to see some of the chest underneath. Rawr.

  11. You should probably update the "Longest Played" list now. I guess that when you finish Nethack 3, it will displace this one (no surprise there), but for now it has beaten out Rogue.

    1. Yes, good point. I need to update really everything in the lower part of my sidebar.

  12. Absolutely adored this game - stunningly good. Amazing how some people just don't like it. I had 2 x 1541 disk drives on my C64 daisy chained to make the disk swapping more tolerable. From memory it was the only game I had that would recognise 2 drives. Brilliant!

  13. This was one of the last games I bought and tried playing on our Apple IIe. My memory of it was mixed, it had too many disks and even with 2 drives the swapping was irritating. I guess it was pushing the limits of my aging system.

    I also recalled the game as being brilliant in places, tedious in others and somewhat incomplete. At the time it almost felt I was missing something.

  14. Could have sworn I posted these things four years ago, but apparently not, so: 1. There actually was at least one necklace in the game. I know this because of an infamous-to-me bug with joining the Secret Storm mage's guild (Poitle's Lock I think?). When you go to equip the necklace, it asks if you want to "eat it here," bizarrely treating it as a food item. If you say yes, it disappears. If you say no, it turns into a club called the "Secret Storm" that does 1-600 damage per hit. This was the only reason I ever made any headway in the game, as I could occasionally get off a one-hit kill against any monster with it.

    Oh and 2. I bet my copy of the "we apologize to inform you there will be no expansions for Knights of Legend" letter they sent you if you registered the game (I guess, not sure how else I would have ended up getting one) must be one of the only such letters in existence.

    1. Great additions to my experience. Thanks! And when you get a chance, scan that letter and send it along. It should be preserved for posterity.

  15. those graphics ARE surprisingly good. but i have belatedly realized that i have a certain fondness for well done ega graphics - there's not a lot of games that made that particular palette look overly interesting or easy to look at, but this game manages in a pleasant way.

    that - and the combat - clearly carried the game, because the rest of it seems absurd, as you've noted, here.

    i never played this, though i dabbled in it once or twice just to see what it was like, but it just took too long [as you noted] to do anything and while i have the patience of a saint, i'm not sure how that would stack up against this /specific/ game.

    glad to see you beat it, though.

  16. I remember this game from the Apple II so well. Even at the age of 11 (12?) I thought this game was WAY too realistic, espeically with all the fatigue and needing to eat constantly. I don't think I ever completed more than a few quests, I'm totally astounded that you had the patience and fortitude to actually finish it.
    Although, was the accomplishment worth it? As an adult, I now ask when I'm playing a game "Is this worth my time?"

    1. Probably not, but the blog changes the nature of the question a bit. Sometimes I like writing about a game even when I don't like the game.

  17. Reading your split entries on this game, I couldn't help but think of what's called "tactical RPG's", of which Altus became a major purveyor. Games of this type occupy a space somewhere between combat tactics and proper RPG's, and typically while they feature economy and character development, they highly rely on very tight battles - but at the expense of very scripted nature of those battles either due to limited options of grinding between battles, or by structuring them explicitly as missions. This has been quite popular in Japan, but not exclusive to it.

    There is more than one game on your list that fits this category - on top of my head, this would include Myth series, Icarus, and Rage of Mages; so I think you need to make up your mind whether or not you are comfortable with a definition of an RPG game (at least, for the purpose of your blog) that would include such games.

    1. So far it hasn't been a problem. Unless Chet encounters a surfeit of games that are RPGs per his definition, yet dont feel like RPGs to him, I dont think we'll see a change.

    2. Don't you mean SRPGs? Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, some SMT games.

      Anyway, I think you're worrying over nothing. SRPGs aren't going to show up outside of random console picks and Chet doesn't take suggestions anymore. Western attempts at strategy and RPG are not so easy to categorize and doing so is probably not a fun time.


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