Our recent preview of the new graphical adventure Tir Na Nog, which loosely translated means Land of Youth from Gargoyle Games, whose first game Ad Astra caused such a stir with its graphics, seems to have already aroused a lot of interest. Tir Na Nog is one of those games that is a review team's nightmare! There is such a lot of it to get through in a shortish space of time that it is inevitable we can only give a hint of the flavour.
Tir Na Nog is set in a mythical Celtic world peopled by the Sidhe. Once mighty, now fallen on hard times, these monkey-like creatures are the main protagonists in the adventure. They had bound the Great Enemy by creating the Seal of Calum, and thus had become a great civilisation. But the Great Enemy had managed to steal the Seal by sending a thief. In their rage the Sidhe killed the thief but the Seal was shattered into four pieces and the Great Enemy freed to wreak havoc on the Earth again. So fell the Sidhe into sub-human beasts.
When the game opens, it is a new, darker age. You play Cuchulainn, the Hound of Heaven, a mighty warrior who has been called to reunite the four pieces of the Seal of Calum and thus defeat the Great Enemy. In this respect Tir Na Nog is definitely an adventure. You are required to explore, seek useful objects such as weapons and keys (some of whose uses are immediately apparent, and some are not), and interact with the other characters who inhabit the land. But it is not a text orientated adventure - text only plays a part in telling you where you are and what objects you are carrying, although occasionally there are situations where text will appear, such as the Oracle. There are puzzles to solve (the Oracle's obscure pronouncements are such), and there are many arcade situations where quick reactions are needed to stay alive.
The screen is split roughly into two sections - a top playing area, where the land is seen, and a lower information area which tells you where you are, what you are carrying or using, and most importantly, a compass. The hero Cuchulainn moves left and right, but the scene may be viewed from four 'camera' positions which relate to the changing compass below.
Tir Na Nog comes in a large cardboard box which contains a 28 page booklet and a full colour map of the land. The booklet has playing instructions, a history of the land and playing tips contained very neatly within a supposed Sealltuinn, or 'observations' of a Bard of the Sidhe. The game may be saved at any point (to avoid constant death!) and reloaded.