Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Game 344: Bandor II (1992)

That's a lazy title graphic.
               
Bandor II
United States
Magic Lemon (developer and publisher)
Released as shareware in 1992 for DOS
Date Started: 26 October 2019
Date Finished: 28 October 2019
Total Hours: 14
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.5/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later)
          
I was willing to give some credit to Bandor: The Search for the Storm Giant King (1992) for at least having the originality to try to clone the Gold Box instead of Ultima, Dungeon Master, Wizardry, or any other title that we've seen dozens of times. All that good will is gone with Bandor II, which differs so little from Bandor that it feels more like a remake than a sequel--albeit a remake in which very little is actually remade except trivial graphics and interface changes.
            
And let's not over-emphasize those graphics upgrades.
        
In the original Bandor, you controlled a party of four adventurers set loose in the titular city to take quests from the council and its chief wizard, Osi. Both games draw heavily from Pool of Radiance in the nature of the plot and quests; for instance, a mysterious warlord organizing monsters in the slums, and someone poisoning a nearby river. In the first game, the city's woes were revealed to be the machinations of the Storm Giant King, whose defeat ended the game well before I'd completed all the side quests. Here, the game begins with new ills facing the city, including word that the Storm Giant King has returned. Bandor II is subtitled "The Wrath of the Storm Giant King" on some external sites, but the subtitle is never given on a game screen or within the game files.
           
Bandor is having more problems.
         
I tried to import my characters from the first game but couldn't figure it out, so I created brand new ones. Classes are warrior, thief, mage, friar, rogue (warrior/thief), and jack-of-all-trades (warrior/thief/mage). Races are human, dwarf, elf, half-elf, and half-dwarf, with only the mongrels able to be jacks-of-all-trades. Attributes are strength, magic, and luck, given as percentages from 0 to 100. Everyone begins with axes and leather armor. Spellcasters have spellbooks that (annoyingly) must be swapped into the weapon slot when you actually want to cast a spell.
            
I was uninspired during character creation and chose an uninspiring name.
           
The game re-uses the three 40 x 40 maps from the first title: the city of Bandor, the forest, and the underworld (slums) to the city's east. The underworld has a teleporter to a fourth map, titled "Landthi's Lair," which makes no sense until you reach the final encounter. The city map is entirely wasted. The huge space has only a few shops and no special encounters.

This was a huge waste of time.
         
A large city council building in the center doles out quests. There are only 5 in the game:
            
  • Retrieve a bottle of Elixir of B'Tet from the Fortune Teller in the slums; bring it back to the wizard Osi. The Fortune Teller has you rescue her brother, the guildmaster, from a group of bandits before she hands over the elixir.
         
The Fortune Teller has a sub-quest.
         
  • Investigate unexplained deaths in the city slums near the old Temple of B'Nah. This turns out to be former acolytes of B'Nah attempting to resurrect him. One combat clears this quest.
           
Getting rewarded back at the city council chambers.
           
  • Find out who's poisoning the River Quoth. It turns out to be a dragon.
  • Investigate the return of the Storm Giant King and find out who is behind his return.
            
The council issues the main quest of the game.

         
Only the last quest is necessary to win the game, and depending on your exploration pattern, it's entirely possible that you'll stumble on that quest first.

Bandor featured three major problems, none of which is fixed in Bandor II:

1. No inventory improvements. From your starting axes and leather armor, you can use your gold to buy slightly better items like long swords and plate armor. Once you have those, there's nothing else. No upgrades are found during adventuring, or as quest rewards. This means there's no purpose to the economy except healing and resurrections.
              
There's hardly anything worth buying here.
          
2. A horrible mouse-only interface. I hated the mouse-driven interface of both games. Actions require too many clicks; there are no alternatives to clicking; and clicking even slightly away from the center of your target produces a question mark, a pause, and a noxious noise that made me want to punch a kitten. The worst part is that this game was supposed to feature a keyboard interface, and it technically does. But it's bugged and broken, failing to read your input about half the time. Worse, you have to choose one or the other during configuration. Good games have redundant commands active at the same time.
            
Graphics haven't improved. I don't know what this was supposed to be.
            
3. Too many combats with too few tactics. Bandor tries to emulate the Gold Box combat system but only offers a handful of spells (admittedly, its "Fireball" analog is about as much fun as "Fireball" without being quite so over-powered) and eliminates useful features like backstabbing, delaying, and guarding. Worse, it often puts the party in extremely narrow corridors where only one character can fight and spellcasters can't cast over their heads because they must have an uninterrupted line-of-sight to the enemy. Random combats are programmed to come along something like every 20 moves, and I found it less annoying to save the game, quit, and reload (which restarts the counter) than to fight all of them.
             
Fighting bandits in confined conditions.
         
To these inherited problems, Bandor II maddeningly introduces another:

4. No ability to level up until late in the game. If you visit the guild early in the game, you can't get in. A message on the door indicates that the guildmaster has gone into the slums to investigate the problems there. You have to rescue him from bandits before he'll return to the guild and train you. But the bandit encounter is so deep in the slums, you could easily do this quest last, or not at all.
          
This doesn't happen until it's so late you hardly need it.
       
The only thing to unarguably improve is the automap, which no longer forgets your progress and clearly annotates physical features like doors and uncrossable foliage.
            
A growing automap of the final area looks a bit like Ultima Underworld's.
           
Of the maps, the outdoor forest is the most annoying. It is essentially linear, with trees, bushes, and water blocking any attempt to create your own exploration pattern. In short order, you find a magic staff, talk to a druid who is only able to contact you through the staff, and then fight a dragon to destroy the threat to the city's water supply. Random battles against ogres and giant rats are more dangerous than the "boss" battle in the area.
            
This time, it's a three-headed dragon instead of a sorcerer named Yarash, but the idea is the same.
          
The slums serve up more giant rats and ogres, along with bandits, fire beasts, and "black servants." (Nothing like a message saying, "You hit the black servant" to test my liberal sensibilities.) Buildings within this area hold the encounters necessary to solve all quests except the Storm Giant himself.
             
Threatened by Benson.
           
The undead Storm Giant King is found through a portal. He attacks after a bit of exposition with two black servants, and again the combat is easier than some of the random ones found in the same area.
         
The Storm Giant King, just like Tyranthraxus, doesn't know when to stay dead.
           
After he's defeated, you can enter an inner sanctum and find the wizard Landthi, brother of Osi. He takes the credit for raising the Storm Giant King and then attacks with no minions, making the final battle one of the easiest.


The villain delivers his exposition.
The final battle against Landthi in a corner.
           
Once you defeat Landthi, Osi apparates in and says that Landthi still lives . . . somewhere. He thanks you for your service and ends the game.
           
Maybe we'd like to be heroes of some other city next time.
        
I gave the original Bandor 26 points on the GIMLET. Since its sequel uses a near-identical interface, mechanics, and plot, I'm inclined to give it the same thing--minus 2 points for "character creation and development" since you can't develop for most of the game. I guess I'd also subtract a point for "encounters," since this game had the same unmemorable foes as the first but without the handful of non-combat encounters that I noted in my review.

If I can say one good thing about Bandor II, it's that magic and physical combat are well-balanced. You can't win with just a melee party, but spells aren't quite the deus ex machina that they are in the Gold Box series. There are only a few of them, and while none of them ever stop being useful (e.g., "Sleep" doesn't stop working against higher-level foes), they also have logistical concerns that prevent the mage from wiping the floor with every enemy party. For instance, enemies have a chance of dodging spells, you have to be in a line-of-sight to cast them (no other party members blocking), and the spellcaster cannot be in melee range of an enemy.
          
Blasting the Storm Giant King with a "Fireball."
          
Still, unless Bandor III (1993) offers a significantly different experience, I won't be sad if it never surfaces. We'll see author Don Lemons' other work with Shadowkeep I: The Search (1993) and The Infernal Tome (1994).

We'll check in with Camelot next, after which I'll either take another stab at The Magic Candle III or move on to Challenge of the Five Realms

59 comments:

  1. I like that even the charracter names was sort of halfassed, it seems to fit this entry.

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  2. That art really is bad. The three-headed dragon looks like a bunch of robots, the council guy looks like the grassy knoll wearing an Olympic medal, and Osi has some failed Botox or a horrible lip disease.

    It might have looked better if it had had higher resolution; the backgrounds look okay for an amateur indie game, as does the combat screen. But all the characters and portraits look like the author attempted photorealism with 20x20 bitmaps.

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    1. Yeah the thing that bugs me about the graphics is how the backgrounds and characters have hugely different resolutions. It just looks terribly sloppy and clashing.

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  3. Loving the frequent updates again. Great to see you back!

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  4. Oh, wow, he just scaled up the faraway graphics for the close-ups. Commonly, stuff like that is used by modern independent developers trying to be retro. I never thought I'd see something actually retro try to do that, and so lazily too. This is incredible, but not in a good way.

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    1. Pokemon gen 1 and 2 used this technique for the over-the-shoulder sprites in battle.

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  5. The pixelart in this is so bad it's almost endearing, almost.

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  6. The the fonts and the color gradients are features of Deluxe Paint that you learnt the first day using it.

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  7. Strong Newgrounds vibes on this one, especially the creepy red lips on the wizards and the zoomed sprites for closeups. The most aesthetically upsetting thing about this to me is actually that font, which is somehow just about the maximum amount of ugly it's possible to be while still being legible. That "N" is sickening.

    I can't imagine how tedious mapping out that huge empty area must have been. When I was younger I had a similar "what if the maps were HUGE" impulse in my own work, mostly because I didn't really consider the fact that doubling the scale of a square map means quadrupling the stuff you need to fill in. It was really easy to look at maps and see where I started running out of ideas/patience and started just slopping in big open areas and mazes and whatnot.

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    1. Newgrounds is probably a pretty apt comparison here. Bandor I and II were distributed on those old "400+ games!" shareware CDs that were full of really amateurish content to pad out the "value". Much like Newgrounds, few (if any) of the games were made by anything approaching a professional.

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    2. Hey, I loved Newgrounds!

      Specifically, I loved the extremely tiny handful (seven, by my count) games that were good, plus a handful of that weren't really good games but appealed to my crude sense of humor.

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    3. Eh, I feel like comparisons between the old shareware CDs and Newgrounds isn't entirely fair, since most of the filler on the CDs was usually old arcade game or casino filler. Like games that weren't interesting, but not in the sense they were bad games, just games not many people wanted to play. Not saying there weren't quite a few games like this, but generally people didn't want to press too many of these kinds of games onto their discs. Except Skunny, which somehow found its way onto every shareware disc back in the day.
      Also, when Newgrounds was bad, there was usually an amateurish charm to it, while most of the bad shareware games lacked charm.

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  8. The Infernal Tome is actually the third game in the Bandor series.

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    1. Judging by a YouTube video I watched, The Infernal Tome (1994) is clearly set in the same universe as Bandor, but it doesn't seem to be the same game as Bandor III: The Final Encounter (1993). Moreover, Tome has an interface that throws out the Gold Box in favor of Dungeon Master.

      Lemons clearly spent those two years getting a lot better at graphic design.

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  9. I have to really concentrate to read that font. Otherwise I read the "N" as an "M", and mistake the "A"s and "R"s for each other.

    "I wram you mow cowrads - lerve me mow or face my warth!"

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    1. Ew, I don't want to face your wart but I don't want to touch any larvae either. Guess I'll have to fight you instead!

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  10. "Mongrels"? Seriously? In this day and age? Why didn't you just go full alt-right and call them "Mulatto"? Why bother with this alt-lite euphemism for racial mixing?

    Now, is it possible to like a game a racist also likes without exposing a deep deficit within you? Of course! I’m sure many racists like pizza because pizza is fucking awesome. Shit, Donald Trump loves shiny shit, and so do I. But if you’ve just entered a blog, and you find yourself surrounded by people who apologize for racists, you should probably ask yourself how you got there and what you need to do to leave.

    (Unless, of course, you’re there on purpose. In which case, congrats on finding your tribe.)

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    1. What? If this whole comment is meant to be targeting the Addict then I think a better way to say this would have been "Btw 'mongrel' is an offensive term." It's good to point these things out but understand that it's actually easy to not be fully caught up on these things - it totally depends on what sort of spheres you dwell in.

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    2. I will accept that "mongrel" is an offensive term when talking about real people and real races. Anyone who gets upset about it when talking about half-dwarves and half-elves is looking for something to be offended at.

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    3. To be honest, I don't think I've ever even heard the term used outside of dogs. Is this actually a word people are offended by when referring to orcs? I suppose since orcs and humans are actually different species, wouldn't they probably most likely end up as sterile hybrids like mules or hinneys? How many chromosomes does an orc have, anyway? So many unanswered questions.

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    4. 10 years ago Heike would have been an obvious troll, and people would not have replied seriously to him. Nowadays it's harder to tell.
      Or maybe he's a half-troll - a mongrel?

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    5. I repeat, he would be a HYBRID! Not a mongrel. Somehow this offends me significantly more than the term. :P Unless he is a mix of bridge troll and fire troll. That would make him a good and proper mongrel.

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    6. I think you're being trolled, Chet. "Heike" is someone coming here to make reasonable people look stupid arguing against something that no real person would actually say. No person who actually cares about racism and inclusive language would pick this particular fight. It's probably the same anonymous poster as your previous trolls.

      Maybe next post, ask if there are any valuable regular good-faith posters who would be shut out if you turned off anonymous comments. If not, turn them off. If there are, just be aggressive in deleting argumentative comments from anons.

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    7. Gee, this is the second time this Heike character pops up, commenting something like this. Funny how I can't remember her posting anything on this blog before other than the recent similar rant.

      Either a massive, disruptive SJW who wants to turn harmless game blogposts into political battlegrounds, or a troll pretending to be a massive SJW in order to rile people up because it's funny or something.

      Definitely not someone genuinely interested in the history of CRPGs.

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    8. I mean, either is genuinely possible @JarlFrank.

      Some people have nothing better to do than to run stupid little false-flag operations to try and damage their "opponent." Some other people prefer to waste their time by fighting for their ideology literally everywhere.

      Either way these comments are stupid and disruptive and have nothing to do with RPGs. I'd rather comments in this vein just be deleted as soon as they're noticed, so everybody can pretend they never existed. (I don't know if Chet can actually delete our comments on this blog.)

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    9. My friendslist is populated by the far left of the spectrum. I can assure you that the fight that Heike's picking doesn't come from that space. It's a 4channer who's spotted that the comments section here will rise to a certain bait (and yes, sorry, I will, when I think there's someone who'll listen to a contrary viewpoint politely put), and they're deliberately aggravating it with ludicrous faux-progressive outrage in that "for lolz, but also actual serious-ironic-serious extremism" way that they do.

      The correct response from Chet is to go, "If a person of colour actually feels offended by this usage of the term, I'd like to apologise - because it wasn't my intent to offend anyone, and I'm a person capable of choosing words that don't if I have the information necessary to do so - and invite them to have a private conversation with me so I can listen to their viewpoint and decide whether it's something I should address. But I have some skepticism that this particular anonymous commenter is such a person or that their complaint is in good faith."

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    10. I don't see any reason to screw over anyone who isn't coming here to turn this into a big political slapfight. Is it really that hard to ignore someone who's obviously trolling or close enough to it? Is the internet really a worse place today than it was fifteen years ago?

      Dungy:
      I think most fantasy writers don't think of the biology behind different in-game races having crossbreeds, because they're not biologists. Orcs usually seem to be some kind of pig descendant. Presumably they have the same chromosomes as humans. As to whether or not they can breed, outside of DnD, where they can do that magically for weird reason, humans have small amounts of DNA from non-homo sapiens, suggesting that the two were entwined in certain ways. It wouldn't be unreasonable for the fantasy neanderthal to come into the fold. Although if they are descended from pigs, that does raise some more questions.

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    11. I, too, reacted at "mongrel". Then I noticed that it wasn't /me/ - but the fact that I have played half-elves in RPG's where the "half-ness" was problematic in the game world... :D

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    12. I agree with GregT's conclusion. Heike is a bad faith troll here only to cause trouble. Notice how Heike never gets involved in the discussion that follows? Heike is not only a lazy SJW strawman, Heike is lazy intellectually and is unwilling to defend their inane assertions.
      Stop feeding this troll, no matter what they call themselves.

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    13. Heike is obviously a half-troll; that would explain its reaction.

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    14. Well put GregT and Pavone. I feel pretty dumb for rising to the bait, but his comment was just so baffling and unclear! Good troll strat, I guess.

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    15. I find it interesting that anyone can conclude that the poster in question is a disruptive troll whose comments have no value, and yet, as a result of their posts, Chet somehow is still in a position where he needs to apologise.

      This is of course nonsense and would be letting the troll win in exactly the way that, outwardly, nobody seems to approve of.

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    16. RE: Half-trolling - LOL, brilliant.

      RE: Orcs - Tolkien wrote Orcs two different ways, as the remnants and descendants of Elves captured in the First Age, then as some sort of vat-creature developed from the same source, like Saruman used in the movies. Warhammer 40k says Orcs are closer to a fungal infection than an animal species.

      Either way, taking the reproductive elements away from an unreasonably violent species is probably a good idea.

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  11. One thing that's really striking me recently - and it's frustrating for anyone with a completionist mindset - is how this blog shows up the impossibility of the "reasonable, objective review".

    Like, Chet's a great writer and reviewer, and I get huge value out of every post, but his issues with colour and music, and his particular hatred of mouse-only interfaces (noting that many of these interfaces genuinely are horrid, and unnecessarily so) mean that his evaluation of a game is simply not going to be same as someone who doesn't have those issues.

    And of course, there simply is no "average, normal reviewer". Everyone has those biases somewhere, even if they don't acknowledge them, and even if they didn't, I'm not sure what value such an "average, normal reviewer" would have when the reality is every reader will deviate from them.

    Even the "objective facts only" style of review that some people fairly naively advocate simply isn't a thing that exists, because the objective facts that Chet needs to know are things like whether the game is playable for a colourblind person, whether the music or SFX give information necessary for finishing the game, etc, and someone who doesn't have those needs is going to be poorly placed to talk about them if they even think to discuss them in the first place.

    So as awesome as this blog is, a *complete* documentation of non-console RPGs really needs 20 or more people of the same writing quality, coming from different backgrounds, to attempt the same task of playing *everything*....

    (This is one of these things that are inherently obvious, but sometimes it just hits you again...)

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    1. Overall I think Chet is pretty good at pointing out which are his personal pet peeves, so we don't falsely assume objectivity.

      By now we all know he dislikes mouse only interfaces, so if that's not an issue for us we can safely ignore that part of his criticism when deliberating whether to play the game ourselves or not. Same with most other issues.

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    2. It's the trick with all reviewers/critics that they have their likes and dislikes that bias things. It's only if a critic is treated as unquestionably correct about all things that you get into trouble. Chet doesn't owner himself that way so we're in the clear.

      Do the commenters count for the 20 other viewpoints maybe?

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    3. One thing that Chet has been very forthright on is why certain things that detract from a game specifically for him might not be as big a deal for other players. He's also earned a large amount of cred for playing though games that he personally wasn't getting the most enjoyment from, but still giving those games a fair shake and documenting reasons of while it didn't really work for him, it might appeal to other tastes.

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    4. I think a decent version of "objectivity" - at least, the one I feel Chet manages to adhere to - is that when he writes about a game, he writes about the specific game as the topic of concern, not the sushi he ate, the contents of his belly button, other games which you ought to play instead, or the correct ordering of society. Also, unlike certain Amiga magazine writers, he does not leave readers with personal experience questioning whether or not he ever actually played the game he is writing about.

      It may be a fair argument that you think "objectivity" means something else, but I find it to be a decent term, and also believe the thing I am describing is good and desirable, and its opposites are bad and undesirable.

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    5. I just meant that objectivity is limited by your ability to identify that your reaction is personal and not universal, and it's also limited by your awareness of what needs other people may have.

      By way of example, I received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at the age of 38.

      So for 38 years of my life, I've thought:
      * That everyone gets the same disproportionate satisfaction from completing sets and filling in maps that I do;
      * That my sunlight sensitivity is because I'm a "nerd" and an "indoor kid", rather than a physical ASD symptom;
      * That my deep, intense, focused passion for subjects and my difficulty in not talking about them endlessly is because I'm a "nerd" or a "geek", rather than an ASD symptom; (I'm *also* a geek, but that's not where this particular thing comes from.)
      * That I wear jumpers even when it's way too hot for them is because I'm weird, or because of insecurity, rather than because my brain finds the sensation of weight on my chest uniquely comforting;
      etc.

      So for 38 years, in reviewing games, I would have weighted games heavily where they involved completing collections, completing maps, or exploring deep systems of interconnected parts that produce emergent effects, because my brain likes those things *a lot*. I mean, a lot of people like those things, and that can be for a variety of reasons (sometimes including undiagnosed spectrum), and so I would have thought, "Yeah, everyone will love this," but I really do like those things *a lot more* than the average, for reasons of biology.

      And I would have absolutely slammed games that don't let you 100% them in one playthrough, or have stressful time management, or which require spoken-word social interaction with strangers, because those things stress my brain out *disproportionately*. And again, a lot of people don't like them, which made it hard to understand how MUCH more they were affecting me.

      And there was absolutely no way for me to correct for that in a review, because I didn't *know* I was different. I thought that these were areas in which I was a reasonable stand-in for players generally. (And, yeah, ASD and gamers has a pretty high overlap, so I may not have been *that* off-base.)

      And we all have *hundreds* of these ways where we simply don't understand the gulf between ourselves and other people. We can play through a whole game and have no idea how it might make someone of another gender, or religion, or culture, or socioeconomic class, feel awful, or be uninteresting, or possibly be literally unplayable. We *might*, if we've been listening to other people and paying attention, but that's a constant work in progress, and we never get to the place where we can represent even a majority of the planet - probably by a fairly huge shortfall.

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    6. I agree with most of this response but find it generally irrelevant compared to suggesting that I prefer writing-about-things which sticks as best as the author is able to being about its supposed subject.

      That said, many criticisms I have of writing which errs in this way are because the author is basically writing about themselves while pretending they are writing about a subject I care about, and I don't know the author from a hole in the ground. (And often, well, honestly just dislike the bits I've seen.)

      Long-running blogs or review series by individual authors have less problems with this, because it's easier to get a handle on the writer's specific outlooks and decide what you think of them. Including, of course, just not reading them anymore.

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  12. The Benson comment really got me chuckling. I remember really liking that show as a kid.

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  13. Really looking forward to magic candle 3 review

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    1. Same! From what little I've read it didn't meet with the same acclaim the first two games did, but I played around for a few hours and still found it pretty charming.

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  14. Oh man, Challenge of the 5 Realms! You might need to record the opening cinematic, it's certainly something
    ... special.

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  15. Interface looks a bit like what would happen if you gave someone with no ability to use a paint program the goal of replicating the UI of Dungeon Master ...

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  16. Two warnings about Challenge of the Five Realms (not really spoilers, just things to save you some frustration at the beginning):

    1. The character creation makes it look like you could go with one of four possible classes or hybridize them. In practice, only warrior and mage are viable choices. Thief and diplomat are very unlikely to survive the very first combat, and even if they do, their skills are useless most of the time.
    2. The world map makes it seem like it is an open-world game. This is also a false impression. Because of the nature of the time limit, you need to follow the plot strictly and hastily, otherwise you might get locked out of main quest locations and become a walking dead later in game.

    This was a very ambitious project that seems to have run into budget issues which resulted in a very unfinished game.

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    1. Those sound like important alerts. Thanks!

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    2. I've been looking forwards to Challenge of the 5 Realms as I played and finished it as a kid and remembered really loving it, so much so that when I saw it on your upcoming list I bought it off GOG and started playing. Suffice to say, it was not really anything like I remembered, and I gave up about a quarter of the way through, so I'm hoping you'll go all the way. The biggest thing that kept annoying me was the awful interface, I think I had to click 8 times to unlock a door, and why does everyone have 3 inventories? Anyhow, I'm still really looking forwards to your take on it, I think some of the people involved were also involved in past Paragon games (e.g. Megatraveller) and you can see the similarities, good and bad.

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  17. I can stand pretty bad graphics.

    This game really tests that tolerance though.

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  18. and please don´t think you are obligded to make 120 entries, real life turns up from time to time

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  19. MAKE BANDOR GREAT AGAINNovember 1, 2019 at 4:49 PM

    LANDTHI DIED CRYING, SCREAMING AND WHIMPERING. LIKE A (MONGREL) DOG. LIKE A COWARD.

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  20. I kinda feel that skipping some of these these low effort diskmag games wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    I’m all for reviews of little known 80s titles, but I’m not sure early 90s shareware is worth cataloguing unless there’s something notable about it.

    For instance, how many more iterations of ‘Dark Designs’ do you really want to blog about (and those are better than most diskmag rpgs)?

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    1. This seems a sensible suggestion if the aim is to filter all CRPGs in existence down to something more manageable. Mind you, Chet has actively gone back and undone what few filters previously applied to the project, such as the original DOS-only stipulation.

      From a selfish standpoint, it would be a shame for me because it would probably mean skipping the first CRPG I ever played.

      The Walls of Bratock is almost certainly not a good game, being a low budget Ultima knock-off from a tiny shareware outfit. But if you're a kid who's never experienced Ultima or anything like it, that's still a magical thing.

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    2. I mean, what interested me in this blog is that Chet set out to play EVERY CRPG--crap, clones and shovelware included. Even if he just played long enough to get some screenshots and say "another crap Ultima clone, move along," that would satisfy me more than outright skipping titles.

      He could combine several such short tastes into one post, then decide whether or not to continue from there.

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    3. I usually find these posts about obscure games nobody ever documented before a lot more interesting than the posts about the well known classics everyone here has likely played themselves already, and for which dozens of LPs exist in both text and video form.

      It's also more historically valuable for that reason.

      It's also somewhat prestigious! If someone is looking for a review or let's play of Ultima or Wizardry, google is going to spit out hundreds of results. But Bandor II? This might be the only page on the internet discussing the game in such detail!

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    4. I enthusiastically co-sign JarlFrank's post. I come here, above all, to read about things others don't write about. (I certainly don't come here to read about my favorite games per se since they usually don't get a warm reception, though Dungeons of Daggorath makes up for all the rest.)

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    5. There's a big difference between 'wanting to read about popular games' and 'thinking we can probably skip some of the most egregious low-effort knock-offs'.

      Delete
  21. The evil wizard's name is Lanothi, not Landthi; the screenshot of a fight against him shows his name in the standard DOS font, and even this game's horribly unreadable font has a pretty clear distinction between "D" and "O".

    Also, the game's main interface is obviously inspired by Eye of the Beholder and its first sequel more than any other game; apart from switching the compass and the movement buttons, the layout is practically identical, especially if you happen to be playing EotB with only four characters.

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    Replies
    1. I grant your curiously belligerent point that the screen layout is inspired by Eye of the Beholder. But mechanically, the game playes nothing like EotB. It is turn-based rather than real-time; combat switches to a different top-down interface; you can't manipulate inventory items from the main screen,and so on. The Gold Box is the clearer source for the actual elements of gameplay, plus the entirety of the plot.

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