Tower Above The Rest Review | Personal Computer News - Everygamegoing

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Tower Above The Rest
By Level 9 Computing
BBC Model B

Published in Personal Computer News #106

A big, absorbing adventure kept Bob Chappell glued to his computer.

Tower Above The Rest

A big, absorbing adventure kept Bob Chappell glued to his computer

One of the great things about adventures is that they let you escape for an hour or two from the worries and monotonies of everyday life. One minute you're plain and simple Fred Bloggs of Mafeking Terrace, doing nothing more exciting than crazy-paving your window box or cleaning out a blocked drain. The next minute you could be Zon, uncrowned King of the Silver Mountains, single-handedly bashing up a band of Orcs with a rusty dagger and an unlit oil lamp.

The greater the attention to detail and atmosphere, the easier it is to absorb yourself in the fantasy. A good example is Tower Of Despair (£7.95, Spectrum), a superb next text adventure from Games Workshop. It positively overpowered me with its lovingly created atmosphere and carefully detailed prose.

There I was, a jaded, blood-shot-eyed reviewer with not so much as an Esquire after my name. But with one bound (to the keyboard) I became Warrior Mage of Castle Argent, Warden of the Eastern Marches of Aelandor, Keeper of the Silver Gauntlet, Wielder of Flamebolt the Staff of Lightning Bolts, son of Thorvald the hero.

Thorvald, my pater, had been killed by the evil sorcery of Malnor, the Screaming Shadow, but not before Pop had sealed Malnor in Limbo. Wouldn't you just know it - Malnor has somehow danced out of Limbo (sorry!) and is once again plotting dark deeds from his lair in the Tower of Despair. You must reunite the Silver Gauntlet with the Gold Gauntlet that lies in the Eastern Wilderness - only then will you be strong enough to toddle along to the Tower and marmalise Malnor.

Tower Illuminations

Although this is supposed to be a Quill-based adventure, you'd have a hard time recognising it as such. For example, the redefined character set has been beautifully designed, with some capital letters decorated like those in old illuminated manuscripts. A small shield appears as your non-flashing prompt.

The descriptions are full and imaginative and the command analyser fast, flexible and comprehensive.

I began in the Inner Sanctum of Castle Argent. The accompanying booklet provided maps of both the castle and Eastern Aelandor, as well as giving background information and 16 black and white pictures of major scenes. Being lazy, the first thing I typed was HELP and was told "I can't help you this side of the river. Sorry." Well, that's better than the usual "You're on your own here."

Although the instructions say that LOOK will repeat the location description, you actually have to say LOOK ROOM, while LOOK object-name often reveals further information about an item - a repeat look at the Inner Sanctum revealed something not previously exposed.

Rune Juice

Even though I hadn't seen one, I tried GET ROPE only to be told "Find it then!" Games Workshop is obviously on its toes. I did find a blue dagger though, and LOOK DAGGER revealed "The dagger is perfectly balanced and intricately decorated, and is inscribed with Old High Runes reading 'Stealth Conquers Fate'" - juicy stuff, eh?

You are not told what exits there are from a location so experimentation is the order of the day. Upstairs I found the main bedroom: "You are in the main bedroom which is a veritable mess as you did not sleep well. One of the servants is in here, cleaning up." Aha! Methinks I'll SAY HELLO to this fellow. "You can't, I'm afraid: Donnchadh your valet is a deaf-mute." Foiled! - or was I? There's more cunning to this program than meets the eye.

Elsewhere I discovered a strange-looking globe. Being an inquisitive cove, I just had to take a closer look at it and, shades of Tolkien's Silmarillion, was met with: "You place your hand upon the orb and sense the Council's message, still resonating within ... but wait! It is gone. Malevolence rushes through you, deepening as the sphere blackens throughout. Eyes, redly glowing like dying coals, glare balefully at you. Malnor is "listening"! A hideous ululating scream rends the air and..." - and that's all I'm prepared to divulge.

Tower Of Despair should appeal to all adventurers. The plot is strong, the atmosphere thick, the puzzles punishing. The adventure is big, so big it's in two parts, one to each side of the cassette. One of the most absorbing adventures around and excellent value for money.

Dungeon Aid

Poor Conn Iggalden of Ruislip is bogged down at the start of Phipp's Knight Quest. I have some sympathy - it's a great adventure but a tough one. Try this:


For those newly awake in the coffin in Level 9's Snowball:


Bob Chappell

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