The Secret Of Kandar is a flip-screen, graphical adventure set within a huge Castle. The fortress consists of rooms, dungeons, and battlements, set on different floors and accessible by stairways. Taking a firm grip of your joystick, you guide the main character around in search of 'the secret' - whatever that may be.
The quest begins with your character standing in front of the castle, adjacent to the main entrance. Useful objects are scattered around the floor and are picked up by walking over them. The collected item is exchanged with the first item in your inventory, as only two objects may be carried at one time.
Keys are used to open doors, which are subsequently passed through by placing your character in front of the door and pushing the joystick upwards. The screen then flips to the new location, be it a room, cell or corridor.
Your search for 'the secret' is hampered by the presence of flying bats, scurrying mice, ogres and ghostly suits of armour which attempt to bash your skull in with an axe. More fiendish adversaries lie in wait in the dungeons below, leaping on you as soon as you enter their cell. Contact causes the loss of a life, and transports you back to the initial location at the front of the castle.
The status of your character is viewed at any time by pulling down on the joystick. The status sheet then flips down, showing your score, the amount of lives remaining, the number of locations visited and the items currently in your possession. Pushing up on the joystick returns you to your quest.
I'm finding it difficult to make up my mind about The Secret Of Kandar - it looks horrendous, but it does possess some playability.
Mapping is essential, especially as the instructions don't even tell you what it is that you are supposed to be looking for!
Adventure junkies in need of a fix could well find this appealing, but think again if you like your adventures with a liberal sprinkling of quality.
The gaudy and chunky graphics are the most instantly striking feature of The Secret Of Kandar. The pixels are ten times their normal size, giving the effect of a ZX81 with an add-on colour board.
The sound is funny too - a musical cacophony of hooting and wailing which doesn't quite grate the ears as badly as the graphics grate the eyes.
But, and this is a big but, there is a game in there - albeit a very simple one. There are a hundred screens in dire need of mapping and a number of tricky problems to solve - not bad for a two quid program.
Try Pitfall II or Feud first, then have a look at this if your adventuring hunger hasn't been satisfied.
This program looks and is unpolished and ugly, but it's not all that bad to play. Beneath the laughable graphics and sound is a reasonably neat exploration game, dying to be let out.
What I can't understand is why somebody else wasn't bought in to do the graphics and sound - the programmer can obviously put a game together, he just can't draw or write music.
As it stands, many people will be instantly put off by the amateurish presentation, which is a shame because it's not all that bad.
No title screen to speak of, and barely average in-game presentation.
Very basic, chunky and almost offensive to the eye.
Awful renditions of several classical tunes play throughout the quest.
Mildly compelling exploring action, if you can bear the crude exterior.
Plenty of locations to explore, but there's no real urge to see them all.
Value For Money 49%
Provides little more than a couple of afternoon's entertainment.
A reasonable arcade adventure mostly let down by ugly cosmetics.