|There's no title screen, so this opening screen is the best we can do.|
The Rescue of Lorri in Lorrinitron
Independently developed using the DCGAMES creation kit; published as shareware
Released in 1991 for DOS
Date Started: 12 December 2016
Date Ended: 13 December 2016
Date Ended: 13 December 2016
Total Hours: 4Difficulty: Very Easy (1/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
At the end of my recent tour of Legend of Lothian, I wondered whether any Ultima clone really "got" Ultima. Plenty of clones have copied the iconographic interface, the tileset, and the commands, but none have even tried to match the best Ultimas for dialogue, setting, and story.
The Rescue of Lorri in Lorrinitron is, alas, not that game--but the creation kit that it was built with could have, I think, supported such a game. It is called "DC-PLAY" in the documentation that game with Lorri, but it seems to have been renamed "DCGAMES" at some point. It is credited to David Hernandez of "DC Software" in Plano, Texas. Most of the information that I can find on the kit comes from archived pages with broken links, but it appears to have gone through several variations shared on Compuserve in the early 1990s. You can still download the creator here. Registering the product cost $40.
|Exploring a world clearly inspired by Britannia.|
The kit boasts a surprising number of features, including recorded voices for characters, scripts to control NPCs, and up to a thousand maps of 256 x 256 tiles. In mechanics, it is clearly inspired by the Ultima line and plays like a combination of the first six games in the series. The use of most of the letters from A-Z for commands goes back to the original Ultima, and the game superficially looks like Ultima or Ultima II. But it supports the detailed NPC dialogue (via keyword) of Ultima IV, a complex inventory system reminiscent of Ultima V, and an approach to combat that blends Ultima V and Ultima VI. Aside from a roguelike approach to some equipment (where colors and descriptions are randomized for various objects at the start of the game), the kit is so heavily indebted to Ultima, in fact, that I have to wonder if Origin ever became aware of it and, if so, what its reaction was. An unsourced comment on one abandonware site says that Origin threatened legal action against the maker of Lorri, but it would have made more sense to go after the maker of the kit.
In any event, we don't judge creativity on the CRPG Addict; we judge results. It is therefore too bad that the only way we can experience the DCGAMES kit is through a fairly sloppy implementation via The Rescue of Lorri in Lorrinitron. Old archive pages hint at other games created with the software--DBQuest, Knight Fall, Other World, Legends of Old, The Slovennian Saga--but if any of these ever existed and did a better job than Lorri, they're lost to history.
|Swarmed by skeletons and rats in the dungeon.|
Almost everything about Lorri is inept, including rampant misspellings, inconsistencies in the use of upper and lower case, completely wasted NPCs, almost no documentation, a bungled ending, unexplained spells that seem to do nothing, and overall gameplay so easy that I'm convinced the starting character could win as-is with no companions, equipment, or leveling required. The developer, Robert Cristello, only wanted $5.00 for it, but I'm sure there were better games available as freeware. I looked up the address of Cristello's company--the location to which he wanted the $5 sent--and I saw it was a prep school in Bath, Maine. I briefly had an image of a 16-year-old boy programming this game and then using his school's address to get some quick cash, and the game was excused--almost redeemed--in my eyes. Then I got hold of Cristello's c.v. and saw that he was, in fact, Director of Computer Sciences at the school at the time, and probably about 30.
The only background you get on Lorri, independent of the kit, is as follows:
Hello Adventurer, Rumor has it that the Beautiful princess Lorri has been kidnapped by a terrible being and is being held in a secret location. The King is in dire need of help, perhaps you could go to his castle and offer your services to him. It is said that the King is wealthy and would reward a brave adventurer such as yourself for the safe return of his daughter.
Character creation follows the standards of the kit, which blends races and classes: you can be a human, elf, dwarf, wizard, archer, or fighter, each of which has different modifiers to stating strength, speed, aim, dexterity, IQ, magic power, and hit points. You get a pool of 25 points to distribute among these starting attributes and can choose your icon from a small selection. The game begins near your house (which you can enter and loot for a few items); nearby is a town and the castle of King Altheon.
|Creating a character.|
Most of the letters on the keyboard are used for various actions, from (A)ttack, (B)oard, ad (C)amp to (W)ield, (X)it, and (Z)ap with a staff; some of the specific selections suggest a Rogue or NetHack influence rather than a simple Ultima one. (I don't think Ultima ever uses the word "quaff.") The small town maps are stocked with Ultima-style counters where you sidle up to buy or sell weapons, armor, and food. Bars are supposed to offer tips, but I never got any.
|Magic armor is not only cheap; it's unnecessary.|
My doubts about the game began to form when I first started speaking to NPCs in the towns. The kit supports long textual responses to any keywords--yes, NAME, JOB, and BYE all seem to work--and yet the maker of Lorri hardly programmed any such interactions. Throughout the entire game, in fact, the only thing I could find that was useful to do with NPCs is have them JOIN the party. I eventually supplemented Chester the wizard with Balthazar the dwarf, BOBCAT (yes, we're suddenly in uppercase) the human, and "elf" who never had a name.
|Getting a character to join the party.|
In the two-room Castle Altheon, I ran into a guard who demanded I not pass, then did nothing when I passed. King Altheon was standing next to his throne. The kit supports designating certain NPCs as "questers," which brings up a specific interface to receive and turn in quests. The developer here forgot to rename the generic title with the actual name of the king. In any event, I was able to get the game's one and only quest from him, but he had no other keywords.
|I won't do it for less than 11,460.|
The game world is about 200 x 200 squares with a few towns, dungeons, and castles, none of them very big. Terrain like trees, mountains, water, and shoals keeps you from visiting every location right at the beginning, and the key mechanism of proceeding on the quest is to find the next vehicle you need to overcome the terrain.
Monsters spawn at regular intervals. They consist of typical fantasy types--orcs, trolls, skeletons, zombies, "gouls," rats, spiders, dragons, demons--and if any of them have special attacks, I couldn't tell. The kit uses a derivative but still unique combat system. It takes place on the regular map, but when you enter battle, your party icon fans out to represent each individual character, even if it doesn't make much sense given the terrain (e.g., one character might appear on the other side of a wall or mountain). Enemies do the same. Each character's ability to hit an enemy, including considerations of range and obstacles in between, seems to be based on the lead character's position.
|My two-character party fights a troll.|
Characters get experience for each successful hit against an enemy, and more if they actually strike the killing blow. Throughout the game, even when fighting hard-sounding enemies like demons, most died in one blow. Most of their attacks did nothing to my characters, and I only ever had to reload once when someone died of poison.
|A character levels up just for hitting an evil wizard.|
When they die, enemies follow the Ultima V tradition of leaving individual bags of treasure, items, or treasure chests. Even sea monsters leave treasures floating on the waves. Other than gold and food, these treasures can include rings, staves, potions, and scrolls. The game honestly didn't last long enough for me to bother figuring out how these items worked or what their various effects were. Hit points regenerate quickly just by walking around.
|Spiders leave items and gold in their wake.|
Within just a few combats, I had enough money to buy the best magical weapons and armor sold in the towns, and since everything else was so easy, by mid-game, I was just leaving equipment on the battlefield after combat.
|"Let it sink!"|
Characters level up at reasonably regular intervals, gaining a couple extra hit points, magic power points, and bonuses to attributes per level. As if this wasn't enough to win an easy game, I soon found a training facility at the end of a hedge maze where the trainer will increase any of your attributes by a few points, for no money. I mean, there's a money interface, and I think the developer intended to put a cost to the training, but in the game all the lessons are $0. You can get everyone up to 99 in all attributes for free. It's a measure of how easy the game is that I just upgraded a couple of stats and left. Healing, incidentally, also costs no gold--even resurrection.
|Limitless development thanks to a trainer who never posted his prices.|
The game has a food mechanic. When it started, I bought 225 units for about 8 gold pieces. When it ended, I still had 185. There's also a fatigue mechanic that makes you (C)amp every 1,000 moves or suffer hit point losses. But you can camp anywhere and it offers no risk.
Early in the game, I entered a city called Spectronis, which featured about a dozen rows of empty houses plus a few shops. One of the shops was a fortune teller who said I would need to "find the magicians [sic] castle to recieve [sic] transport to demon island!"
|No need for all the other NPCs...one of them tells me everything I need to know.|
To do his, I first had to get a boat. There was one at the end of a dock on the other side of a one-room mountain dungeon appropriately called "Boat Gateway." The boat allowed me to visit another island, which had a one-room dungeon called "Crystal Cave," where I found a Sword of Might.
|Nice for someone to just leave this here.|
Another boat-accessible area leads to a larger dungeon called the Underground. Here, you find a portable skiff that allows you to cross the smaller bodies of water in the dungeon (shades of Ultima VI) to the far exit, which brings you to an area encircled by mountains.
|Out of one dungeon and into another.|
In this area is the entrance to the "magic dungeon." You explore for a few minutes, find the evil wizard, kill him, and get his flying carpet.
The flying carpet works much like the Ultima V version except that you can fly over mountains with it. You use it to get to the Dark Castle. Two or three small levels of the castle lead you to the final battle against a group of demons guarding Lorri--as easy as any other battle in the game.
Lorri joins the party with the JOIN command. Her name is apparently PRINCESS, though, not "Lorri." Taking the exit near her brings you to an all-black area that says "welcome to end of game."
|Use your indoor voice, Lorri.|
|It's rather dark in end of game.|
Leaving this area brings you back to the outerworld near the castle. You enter and turn in the quest to the king, who screws you by giving you only $10 rather than the "11,459 in gold" that he originally promised. Or maybe the exchange rate just really sucks in Lorrinitron.
|This is perhaps the first game in which the subject of a quest gets to level-up upon completion of that quest.|
This is an example of a game whose implementation is so bad that it drags down what would otherwise be high GIMLET scores. For instance, the kit itself supports a decent approach to equipment--each character can have a variety of weapons, armor, shields, rings, necklaces, staves, and so forth--but Lorri is so easy that it's more of a hassle to micromanage inventory than it's worth. Similarly, the economy takes a big hit because the developer failed to provide anything important to spend money on.
Combat is so easy that I didn't even get into spells, half of which don't seem to do anything anyway.
- 1 point for the game world. I know it's called Lorrinitron and it's ruled by King Altheon. The kit supported much more detail but the developer didn't provide it.
|Instead of using these books to flesh out the game's backstory, the developer showcases his inability to spell the names of famous literary characters or get their lines right.|
- 3 points for character creation and development. A reasonable approach to both is undone by a game so easy that development is neither satisfying nor rewarding, nor do you have to try hard to get a mix of skills among your party members.
- 2 points for NPC interaction. A solid mechanic that was unused.
|The most useless "tavern tip" ever.|
- 1 point for encounters and foes. Enemies are only really distinguishable by icon; they have no special attacks or defenses, strengths or weaknesses. There are no other puzzles or encounters in the game.
- 3 points for magic and combat. Again, a potentially 5- or 6-point system was under-utilized.
|This should have been just a little more epic.|
- 3 points for equipment. Same story.
- 1 point for economy. Same story.
|I forgot that this potion-seller even existed until I was going through my screen shots.|
- 2 points for a main quest.
- 2 points for graphics, sound, and interface. It gets all that for "interface." The graphics are uglier than Ultima and the developer of Lorri did not use the sound capabilities.
- 1 point for gameplay. Linear, non-replayable, far too easy, at least it didn't last long.
That gives us a subtotal of 19, from which I'm going to subtract 2 points for overall sloppiness for a final score of 17.
I am nonetheless convinced that DCGAMES is capable of a 40-50 point game, and I can't help but wonder if any of the other titles made with it fit the bill. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience with this creation kit.