Amstrad Action1st March 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #6
The MAD games are a new range from Mastertronic that reflect the company's growing prominence in the market. Despite the increase in price, this game is still £5 cheaper than most "full price" software and puts many such titles to shame. It's an arcade adventure that really lives up to the "adventure" label and features a new system called "windimation".
You take the role of the Magic Knight (hero of Finders Keepers) whose task is to rescue your master Gimbal and seven other people from the Castle of Karri. It's all Gimbal's fault, of course, and you have to release him from a white-out before returning the seven others to their space/time zones (home sweet home!). This is of course diabolically difficult and involves a good deal of devious puzzling.
The castle is made up of flick-screen rooms viewed from the side. Each one is mostly bare except for colourful and detailed ornaments and plants. There are also the standard smattering of objects and characters. Which are what occupy most of Magic Knight's time.
The window menus are how all the adventure aspects of the game are controlled when he isn't walking between locations or making prodigious leaps. They are pulled into view over the game screen and have a wealth of options which can be accessed. The main menu has the usual commands to pick up and drop objects - you can carry up to five depending on their weight. Magic Knight can also take objects from or give them to other characters in order to perform a task.
Objects can be examined to reveal whether they might have something interesting to be read, their weight and whether they have magical powers. It's not just objects that can be examined but characters and Magic Knight as well. This reveals their physical attributes of strength, happiness, stamina, spell power and food level. Poor old Magic Knight has to worry about all the other characters as well as himself so that everybody has to be kept well fed and healthy. If Magic Knight or any of the others dies then the game finishes. You're also up against a 48 hour time limit (not real time).
There are some objects and locations that introduce new commands to the main menu and this can be extended till it nearly fills the screen. One of the most important is the ability to command other characters to do things, either to help you or just to stay alive. They can be told to eat and drink, help, fall asleep, wake up, go away or be happy. Some are more useful than others but you'll have to be careful because sometimes they may not be cooperative, particularly about objects.
Another important command that you will come across is control of the lift that gets you between the seven floors of the castle. Other helpful additions are the ability to locate a character (they wander around when they're awake!), blowing things and casting spells. There is a list of several spells, each one explained by its name.
This is yet another excellent package from Mastertronic with some excellent graphics, great in-game sound and some fascinating puzzles. The window menu system may not be *that* original but it makes the adventure side very playable and really opens up the game's potential and detail.
Still great value, even if the "added dimension" is an extra quid. This game is certainly smoother and more sophisticated than many you would pay full price for. The windowing works very well, but can take a little time to get used to.
The game is by no means easy. Lots of brainpower is necessary to keep track of the numerous characters and their status, and to figure out what on earth to do with the many objects you encounter.
P. Excellent graphics and animation.
P. Wonderful music plays throughout the game.
P. Window menus add a fascinating new dimension.
P. Some really tough puzzles to solve.
P. Multi-character control also adds to the game.
P. Still a great price.
N. May take time to get into the puzzle solving.