Sinclair User20th July 1985
Published in Sinclair User #42
If the tribulations of the Spanish seaside are just too much, you may decide to immerse yourself in the cool magic of Red Moon, Level 9's new graphic adventure.
Long ago, when the moon was red, Magik was powerful and all-embracing. Then the moon grew colder and greyer and the arts of darkness became more difficult and obscure. In time, Magik failed and the warlocks and sorcerers met to remedy their loss.
They created the Red Moon Crystal and placed it in the Moon Tower in the land of Baskalos. Thus did Baskalos became the centre and heart of Magik and the other arts of civilisation.One day, though, the Crystal was stolen and Baskalos nearly collapsed into barbarism and chaos. Then a magician came who recovered it and saved his world from fear and eternal darkness ...
Baskalos is a world of reclusive and dangerous sorcerers who dwell in mist-shrouded castles, unscalable towers or endless networks of caverns beneath the volcano torn landscape. Here were once dragons and may be still and giants beat out runestrong swords in subterranean smithies.
As usual with Level 9 the game is big, with over 200 locations to explore. Many of those have graphic illustrations of the scenes and the descriptions are atmospheric.
The pictures appear relatively fast but will not interfere with your text entry, as you can carry on typing as they draw. They are pretty enough in that impressionistic style Level 9 has adopted. If they do get in your way you can dispose of them simply by asking for 'Words'.
It's always debatable as to whether the sheer volume of graphics affects the text interpreter and there were occasions when I felt that the Examine function could have been more informative about objects or locations. The detail in the descriptions does balance that, though.
As befits a world where Magik is all, you have the opportunity of casting up to a dozen different spells to deal with many threatening situations. To cast a particular spell you must be in possession of an object which acts as its focussing point.
If, for instance, you own a certain pearl you can 'Cast Snoop North' to look into a room to your north. A dagger will allow you to 'Cast Zap' and magically attack an enemy, and a dulcimer will help you to teleport to and from the start point, thus escaping some fatal peril.
Combat, also can be undertaken - but make sure you have some sort of weapon and armour first. At the beginning you have 50 'hit points' which will be depleted by battle. Hit points are also used up when you cast spells, so be sparing with Magik and fight only when you really have to. Special objects, such as rune swords, appear to increase your ration of points but they may be costly to acquire.
One other cautionary note - iron has always been known as a specific against magic and its presence in a location will reduce or totally nullify the effect of your spell-casting. When I was underground in the lair of Ziix the Magician I found it impossible to cast proper spells despite dropping every iron object I had collected. Are the caverns iron-ore bearing? Only time and yet more effort will tell.
Be sure of one thing; the solution to Red Moon is no easy linear progression from task to task. You will have to work hard to discover the significance of many objects.
Red Moon comes at the same price as the earlier Emerald Isle which Level 9 claimed was easier than their higher priced adventures. I suppose it all depends what you mean by easy!