Quentin Heath goes in search of the evil and mysterious Black Crystal and into the Halls of Things to find magical milk
THE CONCEPT of an animated adventure is reasonably new. Such a package is distinct from an adventure like The Hobbit or Planet of Death, because all the action takes place in graphics form. There is little or no text with this type of adventure.
There are only two graphics adventures which stand out in the market at the moment. The first to be produced was Black Crystal from Carnell Software. The company produced a version of the game for both the ZX-81 and Spectrum.
The adventure is loaded in several sections because of its memory requirements. Each section puts the user into a different scenario. For instance, the first part displays an overhead view of a fantasy land in which the game is taking place. In that land you have to find the rings which, when brought together, will destroy the evil black crystal.
To find all the rings the player must go through forests and castles to reach the tower room where the black crystal has its domain.
When I first started to play the game the rings seemed to be scattered randomly around the map. Soon I found that several of the rings could be detected in the forest area of the map every time I went back to the program.
When I had found all the rings on map one I entered the castle in the middle of the map. There are several levels to the castle and on the lowest I found an invisibility charm which helped me to evade the ghouls which plagued me continually.
Another difficulty which you may find on level two of the castle is the mist which can damage your health seriously. The best way to disperse it is by using your power drain.
When moving round the castle it is best to keep your finger on the 'swerve' key. That will use some of your energy but you will avoid some of the nastier aspects of the monsters when they strike at you. To get to each map of the game you have to know the code numbers which have been given to you from the previous map. I have several of them but if any readers have discovered the last two I would be interested to hear.
Black Crystal is a Basic program and as a result the game movement routines are slow. The second graphics adventure to reach the market is Halls of the Things and, despite its awful title, it is very fast to play.
It is written in machine code and is the first graphics adventure for which I would recommend a joystick. The action centres on a maze of seven levels. Each level can be reached by moving up a staircase on the right of the maze.
As with Black Crystal, the object of your quest is to find the rings of power but to do that you must kill as many of the Things as you can. To do so you have a bow and arrow, lightning bolts which may rebound on you, and magical firebolts. The monsters are also equipped with those weapons and if you are hit by one of them your strength is sapped.
To regain your magical strength you must drink as much as you can of the milk which is lying around the maze. That part of the game is not stressed in the documentation with the package, as the authors believe that players should find their own ways to survive.
One of the most important tips which I picked up during play was that you should have your finger on the fireball key when you enter a section of the maze from the stairway. When you get into the maze you will not be able to see all the monsters which are approaching you. A fireball will be produced if the monster is in your vicinity, so when you see that flame flare you should beware of the Things.
The fireball is the easiest weapon to use, so at some point in the game you will be tempted to use it all the time. Unfortunately that weapon is also the most costly in terms of magical strength. If you have time you should try to use your bow and arrow.
The bow is the most difficult of the weapons to use as the Things will often surprise you and launch a quick attack even before you have your bow stringed. To fire an arrow you must indicate in which direction you want it to fly and then press the arrow release key. Several shafts can be fired at one time if the need arises.
The mazes which are created in Halls of the Things are set randomly but the game is easier to play in some parts of the maze than in others. The upper levels are the easiest to play in because there are fewer narrow corridors and more open spaces in which to see monsters coming. The expert, however, will find many things to tax the brain in the lower part of the maze.
HINTS AND TIPS
Halls of the Things
When entering you will be amazed,
If you have any views on mind games or if you have hints and tips on adventure, computer-moderated games or chess, please write to me: Quentin Heath, c/o Sinclair User.