Computer Gamer1st January 1986
Published in Computer Gamer #10
Seas Of Blood
A couple of years ago, a phenomenon hit the children's book market in the form of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy (FF) series. For anybody who has not come across these books before, they are the same sort of format as the Heroic Warrior story in Gamer but about eight times as big.
They would seem obvious candidates for making into computer games and so far two attempts have been made. The first, Forest of Doom, was an arcade adventure but now AI have released Seas Of Blood as an adventure but with the combat system of FF included.
Playing a villainous pirate captain, you sail the seas with your crew on your ship Banshee in search of twenty treasures which you must deposit on top of the mountain on the island of Nippor. As you sail around, you attack and are attacked by various merchant ships and war galleys which you must defeat. Likewise, when you land at one of the ports or on one of the islands, you are likely to end up in battle with assorted nasties that populate the land.
Combat is decided by rolling a die and adding the result to your strength value. Your opponent does likewise. If you win, your enemy loses two stamina points. This is repeated over and over again until one side's stamina reaches zero whereupon that person dies. The bottom of the screen shows a simulation of dice being rolled. It is as interesting as watching paint dry! At least with the book, you have to roll your own dice and there is a feeling that the result is in your own hands. Pressing a button on the computer to do this for you adds nothing to the atmosphere.
The game boasts over 300 locations, all of which are nicely illustrated. However, most of these locations are empty patches of sea and it is very easy to sail for twenty moves or more looking at the same picture and terse description. Movement at sea is of the form "Sail South", which has to be typed in full each time.
The difficulty of the problems set tends to be quite easy as the emphasis is on the combat rather than logic. There are however a few things to look out for. At one point you climb up to a door with a statue next to it. At this point, you cannot move back again, you have to find out how to open the door and go in. Quite frequently, you investigate something only to find out that it kills you instantly and with no warning. This is all right if you have fallen foul of some vicious trap but I was annoyed when a skeleton grabbed me by the wrist and refused to let go thus killing me! I would at least expect to be able to use the much vaunted combat system.
This game is aimed at younger adventurers and they may enjoy it but even so, I cannot recommend it. The game does not do justice to the book at all and anyone with ten pounds to spend, would do much better to buy five of the excellent FF books, rather than one poor FF computer game.