Friday, February 2, 2024

Worlds of Legend: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

 
     
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire
AKA: Son of the Empire: Legend Worlds I - This Time Its War!
United Kingdom
Mindscape (developer and publisher)
Released 1993 for Amiga and DOS
Date Started: 19 November 2023
Date Ended: 31 January 2024
Total Hours: 35
Difficulty: Hard (4/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later)
          
Summary:
 
A sequel to Legend (1992) using the same interface, Empire has the strengths and weaknesses of its predecessor except that it's a lot shorter--which is a strength. The victorious Legend party is summoned to the home of the Assassin party member, the Empire of the Moon, where the emperor--the character's father--has just been assassinated. This plunges the nation into factional strife, and the party is told by the Assassin's aunt that to reunite the land, they must find the four pieces of the Eternal Amulet and summon the Eternal Champion.
   
Gameplay takes place in a series of dungeons in which characters explore from an oblique angle, find treasures, and fight monsters. Combat is absurdly chaotic, with the party and dozens of monsters engaging in a melee that only the most astute player could possibly even follow, let alone manage. The game is bolstered by a justly famous spell system in which players can make up their own spells by stringing together different runes; I found these useful before and after combat but rarely during combat. Character development and role-playing are both relatively limited. It's a game with interesting ideas that needed a few interface improvements to be truly "good."
    
*****
    
Well, I finally won an Anthony Taglione game, but holy hell was it hard. I didn't see Legend to the end, but I can't imagine that it was harder than this.
   
When I last blogged, I'd found three pieces of the four-piece amulet, and I was heading into Guidato for the fourth. Guidato was the usual two levels with the usual locked doors and keys of various materials. The dungeon was perhaps a little more open than the others, but otherwise not worth recounting in detail. There were a couple of rooms with exits separated by a river, requiring me to enter from multiple angles, but otherwise nothing new except that I think Guidato might have had the only no-spawning-enemies-guaranteed rest room. 
    
I can't quite remember what this puzzle was about. I solved it, though.
     
I think the enemies were easier in Guidato in comparison to previous dungeons, although occasionally one of them would cast a single massively powerful spell that plowed through my hit points and killed one or more characters. I didn't take any notes on the puzzles here, meaning they were easy enough for me to figure out.
     
The final shard.
      
A sign towards the end noted that: "The Eternal Champion has visited our world before, but never for very long." In the room where I found the amulet shard, another sign said: "Bring them all and make them one. Invoke the gods so HE may come."
   
I took the fourth shard back to Sushiana. She somehow fused the pieces and gave the completed amulet to me. "Pray that the Book has told true," she said. "Here, I give you the Eternal Amulet whose power may be used in An Odd Shrine."
       
I guess that's not just a descriptor but its actual name.
      
I stopped by the Mad Monks for leveling--paying instead of fighting--before going on to the Odd Shrine and using the Eternal Amulet to "Call forth the Eternal Champion." Alas, Sushiana's book had tricked us. A demonic visage appeared and gloated:
      
At last! I am free of these ancient bonds. For centuries, I have planned the means of my release at the hands of a human. I thank you, mortal fools! You have now granted access to your realm. With my Drune Lords I shall lay waste to your world.
          
Brandon Sanderson used this same twist.
      
With that, a new banner emerged from the central shrine and started circling around the lands, conquering everything.
 
The demon's name, according to the top of the dialogue screen, is "Tetrahagael." According to my notes, you fight this demon towards the end of Legend. He's a boss in the dungeon Fagranc. You kill him to get his key. This doesn't quite square with the idea that he's been trapped in the Odd Shrine for "centuries." "Drune Lords" is apparently an homage to the comic story Sláine, a Conan-like hero featured in the British comics magazine 2000 AD. While I was scanning information about the characters in Sláine to see if I could find any other influences, I happened to notice that one of the characters is named "Megrim," which might have served as the inspiration for that name in a bunch of Motelsoft games.
     
Back in Imperia, Sushiana didn't even apologize:
      
Oh dear, what a disaster. To slay the demon isn't possible without the Eternal Blade. There is only one chance .  .  . You must fight the foul army and kill one of the Drune Lords. Only a Drune Ring can gain you entry to the Shrine and the Blade.
        
Now the difficulty began. First, I wasn't entirely clear from Sushiana's description, although in hindsight it should have been, that killing the Drune Lords meant attacking Tetrahagael's army. Second, once I realized that, I had trouble identifying his specific army. I didn't really note what his banner looked like when it appeared, and I'm not sure I realized there was only one of them. Third, while it's not hard to get into a banner fight while you're trying to cross the map, it's hard to get into a specific banner fight, as neither you nor the other banners travel in a straight line. The result was that I fought a lot of banner fights, blowing through my reagents, before I hit the particular one I needed.
       
The party and the evil army nearly connect at the bottom of the map.
      
I had to reload a few times during this process because Tetrahagael kept conquering all the cities before I could get to him. This brings up a message that says that he eventually conquered "all known civilisation."
    
They wrote more text for this than the "winning" message.
    
I eventually reloaded from before I freed the demon so I could engage him immediately when he left the Odd Shrine. This worked. But then it turned out that finding and engaging Tetrahagael's army was a snap compared to actually fighting it. What you have to do, it turns out, is fight long enough to kill a Drune Lord, then loot the ground for its Drune Ring, then escape from battle because Tetrahagael himself is impossible to kill (or even damage) through normal means. 
    
The Runemaster stands alone, futilely trying to kill Tetrahagael. I just realized now, looking at this screenshot, that the Drune Ring is literally at her feet.
    
None of the enemies in this game is labeled, so I have no idea which of the demon's many allies are Drune Lords. Beyond that, I didn't notice that one of the packets that some enemy dropped to the ground was a ring--the little dropped bits are too small. Most important, it wasn't clear to me that the solution involved abandoning the battle and escaping. I kept trying to fight it until the end. I didn't realize that the demonic enemy that couldn't be hit was Tetrahagael himself; I thought it was the Drune Lord I was supposed to kill.
   
I tried for ages to beat the army using my usual strategy, which was to let the first three characters die, concentrate entirely on the Runemaster, letting her "Damage," "Disrupt," and "Thrall" the foes around her, cast "Multi-Healing" when she got low, and plan to "Vivify" her companions at the end. The problem is that there was no end. I saw that the demonic figure was taking no damage, but I figured if I could just clear everyone else out, I could take time, experiment with spells, and figure it out. His allies never stopped coming, though. After a battle that lasted more than 30 minutes and left every square on the screen strewn with loot (including, somewhere, the Drune Ring), I ran out of both spells and reagents and died.
     
Tetrahagael does a little butchering of Macbeth.
       
I tried again a couple of times, then started work on a "Summary and Rating" entry in which I swear I felt fire shooting from my mouth. A couple of paragraphs, I thought about the battle again and realized that the unkillable foe must be Tetrahagael and the Drune Lords must be the other dudes in the army.
    
I thus engaged yet another time. I wasted some time trying to figure out what monsters must be Drune Lords before I realized it didn't matter; I just needed to kill a bunch of enemies and start looting the battlefield. To help, I periodically walked off-screen, which re-sets the monsters. Finally, I noticed something that looked like a ring and grabbed it.
    
Tetrahagael had some smack talk as we took off:
     
That sounds like a pretty miserable place to live, even for you.
      
We took the ring back to the Odd Shrine and entered, finding a one-level dungeon. As we entered, an odd sign said: "Although you know that you've never been here before, the decorations in the Odd Shrine seem disturbingly familiar." That must be a reference to Legend, but I don't know what, exactly. 
       
Another message was very pro-demon.
    
Enemies in the dungeon included more four-legged foes, including some things that looked like small dragons and others that looked like centaurs. Still, most of the battles weren't too bad. The funny thing about this game is that fixed battles in key rooms are usually pretty easy, with just a few foes. Then you leave the room, enter a random corridor that you've already cleared, and encounter a massive random fight in which the enemies never seem to stop spawning. All your characters die; you reload; and the battle isn't even there the next time.
    
Enemies come prancing towards the party.
      
A couple of puzzle rooms gave me trouble. I had to look up a hint for one, and I really didn't like the solution. The room had four areas, each accessible from a different door on the perimeter, each with a single "Damage" rune on the floor. A lever on a pillar caused bolts to fire across those runes. To actually hit the runes, someone needed to be standing on them. Four runes, four characters. But there was no way to put one character on each rune since there's no way to "Teleport" across water. (It actually works across two of the platforms in the south for some reason, but let's not complicate things.) I tried for a while to get monsters on the runes, but that didn't work, as monsters didn't stay in place on the runes unless there were other monsters next to them, at which point those other monsters intercepted the bolts before they could reach the runes.
       
The Runemaster resurrects her allies, one by one.
     
An online guide had the counterintuitive solution: you have to kill three of your own characters (or let them die), drop their bones on the runes, bring the fourth character (the Runemaster) to the area with the lever, cast "Target-Vivify" on each of the stacks of bones to revive them, then pull the lever. The bolts fired, struck the targets, and somehow changed one of the water squares to a tile, allowing access to the key in the center of the chamber. I wasn't too happy with that solution.
   
I unfortunately also needed a hint for the final dungeon room, where I had to open a sequence of four doors by casting various iterations of "Missile-Damage" or "Forward-Damage" on a "Damage" rune. I figured out that casting "Damage" once opened the first door, twice the second door, and so forth. The problem is that when the first door or third doors open, they close all the others, so there's no way to structure a sequence that keeps them all open. By nudging the characters forward when the doors are open, you can get three of them to the other side, but you need to get all four of them there: three to stand on teleport destination runes, and the fourth to stand on the teleport pad (which won't work if the destinations are blocked) and open the chest.    
    
My three companions are through; now how does the Runemaster get through?
      
Here's the solution I got from a walkthrough: "Stand the Runemaster [two squares away from the "Damage" rune], then cast TELEPORT on him. Now get him to cast MISSILE SURROUND DAMAGE DAMAGE DAMAGE CONTINUOUS DAMAGE DAMAGE DAMAGE DAMAGE at the floor tile before the rune. The instant you cast the spell, teleport the Runemaster to the position between Door 2 and 3 before the first two doors close. Door 3 will open. A moment later and Door 4 will then open."
     
Well, I don't feel dumb for not figuring it out for myself. Even knowing the solution, I don't understand what it does or how it works. I can't believe anyone ever figured that out.
    
My Assassin's final statistics, with the Eternal Blade equipped.
    
The chest contains the Eternal Blade, which can only be used by an Assassin. (That makes sense, as it's his game.) By this time, I also had what I think are the best weapons usable by each of the other classes: a "Slugger" for the Berserker (despite the name, it's an axe); a Vorpal Blade for the Troubadour; and an Arcane Sword for the Runemaster.
     
Sick of combat, the party flees the dungeon.
    
With the Eternal Sword in my possession, it was time to engage Tetrahagael again. (I leveled up, donated at temples for luck, and refreshed my reagents first.) The battle was rendered more difficult because I needed to keep my Assassin alive; I couldn't just rely on the Runemaster and her healing. Yes, she can heal the Assassin, but in the chaos of battle, targeting a specific ally is nearly impossible. I probably should have invested in more usable items.
        
i got this message a lot this session.
     
Making this final battle particularly tricky is that Tetrahagael teleports all over the place, frequently and randomly. I couldn't keep the Assassin anywhere near him. (Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that you can't save the game on the encounter screen before the battle, so when you lose, you have to go through the annoying process of intercepting the evil army again.) Finally, I realized that I needed some item that would allow the Assassin to do his own teleporting without the Runemaster's help. I had such items earlier in the game but used them up.
   
I hit a few cities until I found one selling Cloud Helms, bought a bunch, then realized the Assassin can't equip those. I tried again and found one selling Cloud Rings. These worked. I bought six of them, just in case.
      
It turns out I only needed one.
       
Winning still took me about six more tries. I simply couldn't keep the Assassin next to the demon. He kept teleporting away, and when I tried to follow, he'd be surrounded by other enemies or allies. When I finally killed him, it was so sudden I didn't even notice. I was in the middle of clicking things and I blew past the final messages, suddenly finding myself at the DOS prompt.
   
Screaming, I reloaded, went through a couple more iterations of the final battle, and finally got the closing messages, which were hardly worth the effort. (They weren't in Legend, either, I recall.) Tetrahagael has a final speech:
      
I dub this a "Trandle Oratory."
     
And then the game had a few sentences (at the top of this entry) describing how "the men of the Empire were again united beneath the flag of Imperia." The game never really explained why they became disunited in the first place nor why my defeat of the demon caused them to reunite. I mean, before I accidentally released the demon, Sushiana told us that only the Eternal Champion could unite the land. What changed? Probably Sushiana was just wrong about everything.
   
Let's move on to a GIMLET. It will be interesting to see how the total compares with Legend's, which I won't look at until I finish. If the GIMLET has any consistency, we should see a similar final rating, but I would think Empire would get a boost in the final category for being shorter, but maybe 1 point less in combat for lacking the strategy component.
    
  • 4 points for the game world. It's got a backstory and some lore and a quest that's personal to one of the characters, but I can't give it much more than that. The various factions aren't given any of their own lore (or even a reason for fighting), and the story is often inconsistent.
  • 3 points for character creation and development. You're forced to play a particular roster of characters. They do have clear strengths and weaknesses in both combat and puzzle solving, but when they get stronger, it feels like equipment has a lot more to do with it than the leveling up process. There are no choices to make when leveling.
  • 1 point for NPC interaction. I feel like I'm being generous with that. There aren't "NPCs" in the game so much as "encounters."
  • 3 points for encounters and foes. It gets almost nothing for the foes, who aren't even named. At no point in the game did I get a strong sense of which ones even could cast spells. Every combat was a surprise there. Most of the credit here goes to the innovative puzzles. I had to look at hints for some of them, but that might be my own deficiency. The rest were relatively satisfying.
     
A typical puzzle room. How do we get to the other doors?
     
  • 4 points for magic and combat. The spell system gets most of the credit here. Combat is otherwise a chaotic mess. With very little helpful feedback. As we've discussed in previous entries, a few basic changes could have made it so much better.
      
Not an atypical combat screen.
       
  • 6 points for equipment. This is one of the strongest categories. Because I've found different items in different places after reloading, it's clear that the distribution of equipment is at least somewhat randomized, which I like. With four characters and slots for weapons, armor, helms, rings, amulets, and boots, it feels like someone always gets an upgrade. There's also a huge variety of usable equipment, which provide many of the combat tactics.
  • 6 points for the economy, another strong category. With the need to pay for reagents, training, temples, and equipment, only at the very end of the game does it seem like there's more than enough gold.
      
I never really did understand the game's use of "luck."
     
  • 3 points for quests. A game always gets 2 for having a main quest and the rest is mostly devoted to side quests. Here, there aren't really any side quests, but I guess the Mad Monk dungeon is optional and would have led to some other weapons if I'd explored it more.
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface. One point is for the automap. The rest is for the graphics, which are serviceable in places, but in general, I thought the artists over-reached, often trying to depict things that couldn't be depicted at this resolution. I give no points for the rest of the interface, which relies too much on the mouse, nor the sound, which is very sparse and cannot be turned off independently from the relentless and repetitive music.
  • 3 points for gameplay. The length was good with this one--much better than Legend--and it gets at least one point for offering a decent challenge in most places, though often going too far. But it's also excessively linear, and it offers in my opinion no replayability.
            
Needing to find a series of keys to open doors got rather old.
      
That gives us a final score of 36, which puts it in the "recommended but not truly good" category. Now consulting my Legend entry, I see that I gave it 37. I was definitely right about "gameplay" (I gave the original a 1 there), but I apparently felt better about the graphics, sound, and interface. I somehow found that it had "redundant mouse and keyboard options"--what was I thinking there? All you can really do with the keyboard is select party members unless you memorize how the rest of the function keys map to the commands. No two of the commands begin with the same letter; why not just have the character hit "P" instead of F5 for "Push"?
   
Economy, equipment, and NPCs were scored the same, and with the same comments. As I suspected, I rated "magic and combat" one point higher. I mysteriously gave 1 more point to "encounters and foes" and 1 more to "character development"; perhaps the latter was more palpable as we moved from Levels 1 to 7 than it was from 7 to 12. In general, I'm pleased with the consistency given the intervening time period (almost 6 years).
      
Despite the subtitle, this is clearly not the Assassin.
     
Although Empire had a U.S. release, it doesn't seem to be covered well in U.S. magazines. MobyGames's review roundup of European magazines shows a wide range of ratings, from 37% in the German PC Player to 90% in the British CU Amiga. The median is in the low 70s. The common theme among the reviews is that the original wasn't bad, but the sequel doesn't attempt to improve anything from the original. Reviews also complained about lack of quality sound. (I was gratified to see the line in the German Play Time review that said, "The constantly recurring music in the background is a bit annoying.") Many of them also shared my complaints about the combat while still praising the magic system. 
    
As usual, a British magazine makes me want to stuff a scone down someone's throat. The reviewer in question is Ben Styles, writing for Amiga Computing in July 1993: "It's about time software houses stopped doing Dungeon Master clones. Worlds of Legend might have the odd feature which sets it apart but it is still a Dungeon Master clone." Other than the fact that it has four characters and puzzles, I don't see how anyone can look at this game and think it has anything to do with Dungeon Master.
      
I found an unpublished article on the entire Taglione series written by Richard Hewison for Retro Gamer, which went out of business before the article came out. Hewison's interviews with Taglione and Peter Owen-James reveal that the idea for the original game came out of a Dungeon Quest board game session. Son of the Empire was originally going to be an expansion to the original game, but it got big enough to justify an independent release. At some point, the developers had a plan to create three more sequels, each focusing on a different character in the party. The next Worlds of Legend game would have been Runemaster's Revenge, which got as far as a 256-color demo before Mindscape lost interest.
       
Anthony Taglione in an undated photo.
      
The pair next developed Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993) for Psygnosis before returning a final time to the RPG world with Hexx: Heresy of the Wizard (1994). As commenters have pointed out, this game is essentially a remake of Bloodwych (1989). Both Taglione and James have credits on games into the 2010s, but no RPGs after Hexx.
    
When I have some more time during the summer break, I may give Bloodwych another shot. I don't think I had a great reason for abandoning that one except that it was too long. I may see if I can get Irene to play with me. She owes me one, as she's been making me play The Lies of P (2023) with her despite my dislike for the entire Souls-like subgenre.
  

45 comments:

  1. I don't think I would have been too enthusiastic about the dungeons in these games. I like to explore looking for loot, not fighting obtuse puzzles.

    Is it just me or is that picture of Anthony Taglione a doopleganger of 80s Howard Stern?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good dungeon should have some hard puzzles in it. After all, you don't want the Cusinart Blade out on the floor next to the Vorpal Sword, Excalibur and a blaster rifle. But by the same token, you don't want the balance to be so off that you solve some complex math problem where you have to find the X & Y equation to a plane only to get a single bone token.

      Delete
    2. I'm fine with hidden stuff or puzzles that require exploration to solve, but I have zero interest in brain-teasers in RPGs. The intellectual challenges I want are "how do I win this tough battle" and "how do I manage my resources", not "how do I solve the dang Towers of Hanoi yet again".

      Delete
    3. imo Chet is a bit harsh on this game's puzzles, so his own description might make the game unappealing. To me, the game's puzzles are excellent and the best ever in a RPG. It's the random, excessive combat that ruins the game a bit.

      Delete
  2. Somebody said that comments weren't working on this posting. I was trying to troubleshoot it when Zack's came through. I guess it was a temporary problem, but let me know if you still have issues.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulation, this was a interesting but hard game.
    About Bloodwych I hope you can play it with someone, it improves a lot. I have played some old two player games with Parsec, so maybe Irene is not your only opción.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always enjoy seeing your comments on your reviews for the previous games in a series, trying to remember why you gave the previous game a particular score.

    Something about the box art for this game makes me think they copied the likeness of a wrestler or something, and then stuck an axe in his hand! Doesn't quite communicate the puzzle-RPG nature of the actual game, does it, but that's marketing I suppose.

    I watched someone play through Lies of P, and was glad I watched rather than played. Looked decent enough, somewhat interesting story. Not quite my sort of thing. It really was the time for Pinocchio adaptations though, these last couple of years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Out of the audience! It's Ric Flair! with a steel battle axe!

      Delete
    2. There was a different box art for another release, with two axe-wielding characters taking on some kind of dragon/snake thingy monster, which also does not hint much at puzzle-solving. None of them looks like a wrestler lookalike, though.

      Delete
    3. Boroth thanks, now I cannot unsee Ric Flair as the barbarian! Woooooooooooo!

      Delete
    4. C'mon, guys, he's the Ultimate Warrior without the face paint. Flair never had muscles like that.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, the 'Slaine' comic book series is well known and beloved here in Europe, and my friends over at Dante's Verlag published some previously untranslated issues as slick hardcover editions in German.

    And while the comparison is flattering, Conan would still blush at the rate of Slaine slaughtering innocent women and children...

    ... and he didn't deem them too many ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Anthony Taglione in an undated photo."

    This just screams misunderstood genius.

    ReplyDelete
  7. AlphabeticalAnonymousFebruary 2, 2024 at 4:44 PM

    I still like the theory that Sushiana is actually behind it all. Doesn't quite fit the facts, but then the story actually presented in the game doesn't quite hang together, either.

    Overall, it sounds like another old, competent-but-not-outstanding game in need of a fresh modern remake/overhaul (a la Ambermoon Advanced).

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's working now! Great job finishing this game; I can only imagine there are very few people who have beaten it legitimately...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Replies
    1. Not my kind of genre, alas. I don't even understand why Irene likes it.

      I'm getting rather sick of games that feel like all the worldbuilding they need to do is "weird."

      Delete
    2. Perfectly understandable, many of the games you cover only appeal to me because you are covering them, and your particular insights lend them a charm to read through, rather than play. I wonder how much of the weirdness of Lies of P is in its premise alone and how much lies (sic) in that it's a modern Korean re-imagining of an Italian story from 1883

      Delete
  10. "No two of the commands begin with the same letter; why not just have the character hit "P" instead of F5 for "Push"? "

    Because maybe the German word for "Push" doesn't start with P? If you tied the control scheme to the words like this, the controls would not make sense in any other language!

    I know Japanese PC games were controlled either by assigning commands to numbers (that you'd type with the numpad) or by cursoring through a list of words (again, with the numpad). In fact, when Starcraft brought "Might & Magic 1" to Japan, they remapped everything to the numpad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're wrong about Japanese PC games, plenty used letters for commands. Even when the less action-oriented genres switched to mouse only controls, action games kept using letters.

      Delete
    2. That's just silly. Localizing keyboard commands is like one line of code.

      Delete
    3. You can also usually find alternate words to justify whatever keybinding you want, as in (q)uaff a potion, use the second letter of a word to differentiate, or just say "we needed to put it here for Reasons so just assume that the correct spelling is ztats."

      Delete
    4. Localizing keyboard commands is like one line of code if and only if the code was written this way. If the devs for some reason decided to use a bad approach for this - and programming standards of the time generally allowed you to get away with it - it might have been a nightmare.

      Delete
    5. Never underestimate the power of spaghetti code turning the trivial into the impossible, that's how you end up with things like a load bearing unused picture of a coconut

      Delete
    6. Trying to fix things that should be trivial in thousands of lines of spaghetti code is my current job! It is about as fun as you might expect.

      Delete
    7. I think early 90s games, especially from small developers, still contained a lot of assembly code, so it might be more complicated than that. Add to that that it was written for multiple platforms.

      Locatization teams might not have access to the source code, so the keyboard mapping would have to be externalized. However, I doubt localization played any role during development or in the choice of the control scheme.

      The F-keys plus mouse controls remind me of Lemmings, another Mindscape game, but that's probably just a coincidence. Also, just remembered Lemmings is Psygonis, not Mindscape.

      Delete
    8. Now that I think about it and look at a screenshot, are the commands just mapped to the F keys in the same order as they're displayed on screen? If they are that'd probably explain why they went that route, they just mapped the row of commands to the row of keys

      Delete
    9. I think people are focusing too much on changing the commands when you could really just make them whatever and tell players that C is for push with zero consequence. After all, such things happen all the time. WASD for movement and E for use corresponds to nothing unless you really stretch out what you use for a word.
      Also, it's inconvenient considering many games of this era were multi-lingual in Europe. English/French/German releases were very common.

      Delete
  11. I suppose the British reviewer meant: "It's about time software houses stopped doing role-playing video games".

    I think that British Amiga magazines refused to aknowledge the existance of the role-playing genre.

    This reminds me of the way some French developers imposed exclusive joystick control even on role-playing games (e.g. Fer et Flamme). In their mind, British or French alike, all video games were action video games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're probably right. Many of those magazines just show contempt for any RPG. It would be just like fans of mindless time-wasters like first-person shooters to hold prejudices about other types of games.

      Delete
    2. I highly doubt it, particularly given how Dungeon Master - like games heavily relied on environmental puzzles, with this game being no better in this regard.

      I mean, given that no genre seemingly features anything similar in the last 20 years or so, I think they were on to something.

      Delete
    3. This game is as much in the tradition of British isometric puzzlers as it is influenced by Dungeon Master. Surprising that a British writer's go-to comparison would be Dungeon Master and not Knight Lore or Head Over Heels.

      Delete
    4. I know Chet is making a joke, but out of curiosity I checked Amiga Computing's reviews for a few later Amiga FPS titles, since the Amiga was not known for having any FPS in 1993. They're, shall we say, very optimistic about the quality of such titles on the Amiga. By the same token, checking early FPS/RPG hybrid Sleeping Gods Lie, they give it a low score of 71%. I think Abacos is on to something here.

      Delete
    5. Hard disks were rare in the UK Amiga scene. By the time they got any sort of traction, the Amiga was mostly dead and people had moved on to IBM PCs or consoles.

      So anything that came on more than two disks, which is most rpgs, was limited to a small audience and tended to get overlooked -- and in the worst cases, ridiculed -- by the mainstream magazines of the day.

      (Some games, like the Lucasarts point and click adventures, got away with it for some reason, but I suspect the "nerdy" reputation of rpgs made them easier to dismiss.)

      Delete
  12. is there more information out there for Runemaster's Revenge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is an article about the creation of Legend in #68 of (the still ongoing magazine) Retro Gamer where Taglione is quoted with some bits about it: planned for PC, 256 colours, recruitable NPCs with sometimes own agendas, rooms larger than a single screen.

      It also speaks about a later GBA version of the original game which according to him was 90% working, but the GBA boat had sailed by then and they didn't find a publisher.

      Delete
  13. I have to wonder if in testing the combat engine was less chaotic. Knowing the system underneath it all gives you advantages, of course, so obviously there has to be some way to do the fights without feeling out of control. You don't make two games with the same engine without there being some way of playing it right.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The idea that an "eternal champion" would be summoned who would be a force for good seemed a bit curious to me. Usually these kinds of games make the player that "champion" which unites the world/saves the day. I suppose in that respect the twist that the summoning would instead bring forth a demon isn't too surprising. The demon's portrayal and backdrop are at least interesting in their own right. It feels like they were going for a "monster Genghis Khan" theme.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My immediate reaction to your review was that the graphics are excellent for the early 90's, especially the closeup portraits. Some of the puzzle screens also look quite good. I think Mindscape was known for their art. I was surprised you only gave the game a 3 in graphics, interface, and audio, but you had more on which to judge.

    The box cover, on the other hand, is an abomination that doesn't belong on this game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, but I don't think he rates games on a curve relative to their era? Also the graphics only count for a third of that particular score. It seems like he rates graphics as either fully functional, semi-functional, or non-functional and leaves it at that. Overall aesthetics seem to be a minor concern to his appraisal of CRPGness or luddic function.

      Delete
    2. That is indeed the case, although I would add a category called "truly immersive" on top of "fully functional." A game would have to struggle hard in the 1990s to get a 3 or 4 on graphics alone.

      In the case of Legend, the portraits look good, but the character icons in combat actively interfere with my understanding of what's happening, and spell effects are insufficiently differentiated. It's hard to feel good about the graphics in general if some of them make playing the game harder.

      Delete
    3. The 90s were a time when the technology allowed you to make an attempt at fancy detailed graphics, but the technology often wasn't good enough to actually pull it off in a way that worked.

      Delete
  16. I am a bit confused - does the game guarantee that there's an assassin in the party?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you have a fixed party.

      Delete
  17. I wonder if the developers knew Moorcock.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.