Zzap1st January 1986
Published in Zzap #9
Hero Of The Golden Talisman
This is the second of two MAD releases reviewed this issue and is an arcade adventure written by Shaun Southern, author of Kik Start (he's a local lad you know, hailing from North Shropshire)! The game puts you in the shoes of 'the hero', with the object of freeing a city from the curse of an evil Wizard. For many years the city had been protected from the forces of evil by the Golden Talisman. Unfortunately the Talisman is now in five pieces and scattered about a large and deadly labyrinth, inhabited by a multitude of ferocious monsters. These pieces must be hastily recovered and the Wizard destroyed to release the people from their anguish and torment.
The labyrinth is composed of 64 rooms spread over five levels. Each room consists of 8 screens, making a total of 512 to explore, and each level contains a piece of Talisman, along with various useful objects and the tortured souls of all previous visitors to the maze. Hero-hungry piranha fish patrol the depths of water-filled passages, while fire-breathing Dragons occasionally block the way ahead. Thankfully our hero can shoot, but a Dragon requires many hits before it disappears for good.
Amongst the objects to be found in the maze are lamps to light up dark rooms, flags to increase firepower, fruit for extra energy and keys -- essential, as they are needed to unlock coloured gates blocking off exits throughout. Heroes can hold up to five objects at a time, displayed in boxes at the bottom of the screen. The object currently in use is highlighted in a different colour and can be changed by pressing the space bar.
When I first saw Hero of the Golden Talisman I instantly thought it was an Impossible Mission clone since the main character is dressed in the same clothes as that infamous hip, world-saving agent and also leaps about athletically. Once I'd started playing I realised that those were just about the only similarities. The main character can also swim, climb and also fire bullets. This game is a strange sort of aardvark which attracts a strong initial interest, but soon palls through lack of variety. It's better than most Mastertronic games, but I don't think it's really worthy of its £2.99 price tag, especially if you think that such classics as Finders Keepers and Kik Start cost a pound less.
Although Hero of the Golden Talisman lacks in she graphical sophistication of some games, it is still very good indeed -- the many different puzzles are varied and provide a constant challenge. The graphics aren't that amazing, but some of the animation is quite good, especially when you take a running jump. My only minor niggle is the awkwardness of getting a forward or backward jump -- you have to get the joystick into a diagonal, which isn't that easy on a review hardened and knackered Atari stick. The playing area is very large but the scanner makes it look deceptively small. Despite the slightly increased price tag, Hero of the Golden Talisman is definite hit material and represents excellent value for money.
Beneath the fairly timid exterior of this game there lies a very enjoyable arcade adventure. It isn't much to look at or listen to, but it's fun to play and that's what counts. The control does seem a little unresponsive at times and occasionally proves frustrating. This is a minor niggle though, as I still found myself engrossed for some considerable time with each play. Despite the slightly higher price tag, this is one of Mastertronic's better releases and as the saying goes -- it's well worth the asking price.
High standard throughout plus witty (and lengthy!) scrolling message.
Strange but sufficient.
Competent tunes but weak FX.
Not particularly taxing and therefore easy to get into.
Lots of screens to explore and problems galore.
Value For Money 82%
A Mastertronic quality game at a MAD price but still worth the extra quid.
A good arcade adventure and certainly the best of the two MAD releases.