Large scale adventure
Kourtyard is an arcade-adventure with you centre stage as the noble King Arthur. All is not as it should be: Camelot has been ransacked and your crown jewels and your sword, the mighty Excalibur, stolen. Instead of doing the sensible thing and sending a powerful army to get them back, you decide to recover them by yourself.
The game starts in the forest surrounding the enemy castle. Armed only with a bow and arrows you must work your way through the forest, over the drawbridge and into the castle.
The once peaceful countryside is swarming with enemy soldiers, all itching to take a pot shot at you. Traversing the forest is reasonably easy - you simply duck behind the nearest tree and fire arrows at the passing baddies. But once you leave cover and head for the castle, things start to get more difficult.
Across the drawbridge you encounter a number of hazards which rapidly drain your precious energy. Initially I found it very difficult to determine exactly what was doing me so much damage before the words "Game Over" brought everything to an abrupt halt. I eventually worked out that walking too close to the moat counts as falling in, which reduces your energy by a hefty amount.
Pits and other traps - notably the collapsing trap doors that kill you instantly if you walk over them a second time - all add to the dangers.
Your supplies of both energy and arrows can be replenished by running over a cherry symbol or a quiver respectively. I found that I needed to replenish my energy far more often than my supply of arrows, but both are vital, and you certainly need to remember where you last saw the relevant replenishing point.
Kourtyard reminds me of Ravenskull: Each level is one huge maze, seen in plan view, which scrolls smoothly around you as you move. However, Kourtyard runs in the brightly coloured Mode 2 rather than Ravenskull's comparatively drab Mode 5, so the grass is really green, the water really blue. The finely detailed graphics speak volumes for the amount of time spent on them.
Kourtyard is vast, so much so that each of the four levels - the area outside the enemy castle, the lower and upper floors of the castle and a "magic landscape" - is loaded separately.
The scrolling, good though it is, does have one rather serious design fault. In Ravenskull you are always in the centre of the screen, so you can see what's in store for you.
In Kourtyard, however, the maze does not scroll until you reach the edge of the screen. So you do not know that you have walked into a pit - with its corresponding loss of 25 points - until it is too late!
Kourtyard follows a number of other recently released games - such as Repton 3 and Impact - in offering a screen designer, which allows you to construct your own mazes.
Although I found it worked well, the maze is displayed in exactly the same way as if you were actually playing the game, instead of being reduced to the Repton 3 style display. It is, therefore, essential to plan out a maze on paper before attempting it for real.
This game is an interesting challenge for arcade players with a strong leaning towards adventures, but not one that particularly appeals to me. Try it and see for yourself.