Time And Magik Trilogy (Mandarin) Review | The Micro User - Everygamegoing

The Micro User

Time And Magik Trilogy
By Mandarin
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 6.08

The price of success

Mandarin Software's most recent release is an enhanced re-issue of three Level 9 classics, retitled Time and Magik. Designed primarily for the Master 128 or the 128k B+, this blockbuster will have BBC Micro owners reaching for their cheque books - either to buy the disc, or else to upgrade their micros and then buy the disc.

For precise hardware requirements, please refer to the end of this review, meanwhile, I'd like to make some general comments before dealing with each part of the trilogy in turn.

The packaging and its design is one of the best I've seen in a long time but recent experience with glossily-packaged offerings has made me suspicious - all that glisters is definitely not gold.

However, readers with long memories will know that it was the Level 9 team of Peter and Mike Austin who set the standard for BBC Micro adventure games: A standard which other programmers then had to aim for - and those who have succeeded leave a spare finger on one hand, so far as I'm concerned. The contents of this package will not disappoint you.

The booklet provided with the disc gives helpful playing instructions, indicates how advanced the parser is and provides an interesting short story by Peter McBride linking the three games: Lords of Time, Red Moon and The Price of Magik.

In addition to greatly expanded text, there are now many different and superbly drawn pictures which, by dint of clever combinations, help to enhance the atmosphere as you proceed through each adventure.

Lords of Time - brainchild of Sue Gazzard - opens the scene and I noticed certain changes as I played through it - I classified most of them as improvements. There are extra clues planted into the text in this version like a picture of an ancient gent sitting in his bath - said gent eventually fell foul of ruffian soldiers while playing on the beach.

Again, the required anagram in the Dinosaur Age is now broken down into the number of letters each word requires, thus making it a less steamy problem. The icy-cold stream that gave me such trepidation in the original adventure has been changed into an icy tunnel - just as forbidding but a little more likely to lure you into it. Similarly there's a more helpful description to read now when the Lur is found than there was in the original version of the game. A final change I noticed was in the Hedge Maze - it has been slightly redrawn.

Your task in all this abundance of riches is to explore nine different time zones. There you will find treasures to collect plus nine vital ingredients which together make up a spell to destroy the baneful influence of the evil Lords of Time.

A lovely game when it first came out, and it's even better now.

I can still remember the frisson of pleasure I experienced when Red Moon was released. Then a cassette-based adventure, I took it away with me to our summer holiday cottage and, thanks to foul weather, solved it during the fortnight.

Red Moon was the first attempt by the Austins at an adventure involving both magic and combat and contained more than 200 locations for the standard BBC Micro - an indication of the text-compression skills that first rate programmers can call upon.

Your task is simple: Locate and retrieve the fabled Red Moon Crystal, collecting treasures as you go. Needless to say, achieving this is nothing like so simple.

You start out in the open and I recommend a thorough exploration here before you disappear down the pothole and into the cave system beneath the Castle of Baskalos. Certain essential items and at least one treasure are to be found above ground.

I would advise careful examination of the bushes by the Lakeside Folly: You can then drain the lake and open the locked gateway to the castle. You will also find that the horseshoe is a very attractive implement.

A dungeons and dragons atmosphere is created both by the use of magic and combat. You start off with 50 hit points, but these are depleted in combat and each time you use a spell.

Combat ought to be avoided wherever possible for two reasons: Firstly, until you locate and wear the armour you are very vulnerable indeed and, secondly, even if you are victorious the shade of your departed adversary will eventually come back and force you into combat once more.

The only implacable opponent is the Blacksmith - you *must* fight him, but if you are gravely damaged there is hope in the form of arestorative potion available in the sick bay.

The Price of Magik was the sequel to Red Moon, but differed in emphasis - much more magic and much less violence were the order of the day.

You have to rescue the Red Moon Crystal from the evil magician Myglar. To do this requires persistence and, above all, the acquisition of magical competence accompanied by the consequential loss of your sanity.

The bulk of the action takes place in a decaying mansion which is reminiscent of Dr. Who's police box - it's a lot larger inside than the outside would suggest.

Once again, careful exploration of the outside areas before entering is the order of the day. I climbed up the vine, preferring this devious approach to that of walking in through the front door. This gained me access to a number of spells quite quickly. You can't start to cast spells, however, until you have located the scroll which is found most easily via the vine.

Time and Magik will run with full graphics on the BBC Master, 128k B+, 64k B+ with sideways ram, and BBC B with sideways and shadow ram.

It will run text only on the 64k B+ and the BBC B with sideways or shadow ram - but notice that the following shadow ram boards are the only ones catered for at present: Aries B20 and B32, Computech Integra-B, Solidisk Twomeg 128k, Twomeg 256k and Fourmeg 256k and finally the Watford 32k shadow ram.

Mad Hatter

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