The Wizard of Tallyron
Star Dreams Software (developer); Future Publishing (publisher)
Printed in the April 1986 Computer & Video Games magazine; sold by the same
Date Started: 19 February 2017
Date Ended: 20 February 2017
Date Ended: 20 February 2017
Total Hours: 4Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (2.5/5)
Final Rating: 14
Ranking at Time of Posting: 24/242 (10%)
This one is going to be clinical and short. Just enough to document its existence. I tried and failed to find some angle that would make it interesting. I can't even do my usual bit where I make fun of the ZX Spectrum and Spectrum owners, since this isn't exactly a conventional commercial title. It's a type-in game printed across 6 pages of the April 1986 Computer & Video Games issue, and offered for sale for £2.50 in the same issue, in case you didn't feel like typing a few hundred lines of code.
|The typing begins--or is circumvented with a clip-out coupon.|
As is usual in such cases, the magazine's backstory offers far more text than occurs in the actual game. The Kingdom of Tallyron used to be safe. Hundreds of years ago, some wizards had given the king a Mace of Internal Power, which somehow kept the dark forces at bay. But now one of the Council of Evil has stolen the Mace and taken it to the Island of Lost, allowing evil forces to spill into the kingdom. You play a wizard's acolyte sent, along with two fighter companions, to the island to find the Mace.
|Exploring the perimeter of the Island of Lost.|
The Island of Lost is a roughly 12 x 12 grid with five cities, a castle, and some terrain features like mountains and forests. (The cities and the castle are just menu locations.) As you move across the landscape, the game gives evocative names to your squares, like the Great Forest, the Mountains of Sunset, the Marshes of Dawning, and the Plains of Mere. Enemies like wolves, orcs, trolls, balrogs, skeletons, zombies, and snakes appear randomly, and you deal with them via weapons or spells.
|The totality of the game world.|
Character creation is just a name. The game starts in the village of Tautree with the wizard and two companions named Karl and Marc. The party has 300 gold pieces and no experience. Karl and Marc being warriors, they can equip swords and mail and get several upgrades during the game as you can afford it. The main character can wield a dagger and wear a heavy cloak, and that's about it.
|Purchasing some initial armor.|
The core mechanic of The Wizard of Tallyron comes in managing 6 spell slots. A "Guild of Magicians" in each city offers one or two spells from a list of 8: heal, stun, fear, sleep, kill, dispel, protection, and lightning ball. Each spell has a four-letter code word that has to be invoked in its casting; for instance, heal is "SOTH" and lightning ball is "BOOM." Some spells are initially unavailable but become available as the character gains experience. Spells are free, and by selecting them in towns, the main character loads up his slots for outdoor exploration.
|Acquiring spells in a village.|
The interface is simple enough. The 3 x 3 exploration window shows the only "graphics" that the game offers. At any given time, the screen displays all of your options. When you run into enemies--never more than two in a single party--you can fight or run. If you fight, the main character can attack with his weapon or cast a spell, but Karl and Marc just attack. Individual combats are rarely deadly, but a string of several can wipe your hit points fast. Fortunately, no game square is more than 5 moves from a town, where you can pay for healing.
|Fighting some trolls.|
|A rare death message.|
The game keeps track of experience points, although there is otherwise no overt character improvement or leveling. There doesn't really need to be, since every enemy is defeatable by the starting characters. As such, the game only barely qualifies as an RPG in the first place. The appearance of "Level 2" spells--dispel, lightning ball, and kill--seems to be tied to some experience point threshold.
|Checking my equipment status after defeating a balrog.|
There are a few special one-time enemies, including a giant crab and a manticore. You get "pieces of metal" from these combats. Once you purchase a third piece from a hermit in the woods, the three pieces come together in a key.
|Perhaps the only "special encounter" in the game.|
For a while, I couldn't figure out what to do next. A location in the southwest called the Castle of Fear clearly existed for a reason, but there were no options there. Finally, after trying a number of options and nearly publishing this entry as a loss, I tried casting "Dispel" while standing on the castle. It worked. A message said that a door appeared, and using the key on the door brought me to a final confrontation with a Black Knight guarding the Mace.
|Do you suppose they meant to say "eternal" power?|
He was no more difficult than the average orc or troll, and he died with one "Lightning Ball" and a couple of melee attacks. I got the screen below, and that was the end of the game.
On a GIMLET, The Wizard of Tallyron earns a 14, with the highest rating in "economy" (healing eats up a lot of gold, and there are suits of armor to strive for), but it suffers from a lack of character development and NPCs.
The game is credited to four developers: Mike Turner, Lin Turner, Paul Jefferies, and Justin Middleton; Middleton amusingly takes the credit for "graphics." The Turners owned Sussex-based Star Dreams software and published a series of forgotten adventure game titles during the 1980s.
In the August 1986 issue, the same team offered code for Tallyron II. The backstory here is that the main character is now the court wizard to the king, and he hears of a magic bell (called, for some reason, a "hare") that can negate the power of the Mace. Again taking Karl and Marc, he enters the dungeon of Woldcrest in search of the bell.
|The opening screen lays it out.|
Tallyron II is a first-person wireframe dungeon crawler in which the player maps corridors, climbs ladders, and opens chests. It uses the same combat system as its predecessor and has no monster portraits. The main character has six different spells at the outset of the game. There is no town and no healers, so all characters must be healed by potions that you find in the dungeon itself, and spells are replenished by finding scrolls. I had intended to combine my explorations of that game with my account of the first one, but when I fired it up, I saw that the game drops any pretense of tracking experience. No character development means no RPG, and I was thus spared playing it to the end. If you feel cheated, I can tell you that the end occurs when the party discovers the bell, climbs back to the surface, and gets a message that, "You take the Crystal Hare of Wold to the Tower of the Moon, where the Keeper disables it forever."
|Tallyron II looks a bit like Wizardry, but it's not.|
We haven't had many type-in games on this blog. I think that The Wizard's Castle (1980), Quest 1 (1981), and The Valley (1982) might be the only previous ones, and they were published quite a bit earlier, with nothing that I know of in the intervening 5 years. Of course, magazines like C&VG offered several type-in programs every month. This raises the question as to whether there aren't many type-in RPGs or whether these four are the only ones catalogued. In any event, while not a masterpiece, The Wizard of Tallyron did offer a welcome break from the exasperating Martian Dreams.