Personal Computer News3rd November 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #035
If you've always fancied yourself as a flaxen haired nordic demigod, but you've found Burtons doesn't stock your size in winged helmets, help is at hand. Valhalla is half epic, half cartoon strip, and its Norse setting is ideal for those with the fjords in their bloodstream.
The graphics screen features a sort of strip cartoon, where the characters actually act out the 'screenplay' seen in the text window below. So, if Thor attacks Loki, you'll see Thor stride across the screen towards Loki, and start beating him about the head with an axe. You'll find you tend to sit back and watch this happen, and the other characters are perfectly capable of carrying on without you, but should you feel inclined to actually do something, there are six quests you can be getting on with.
You have to wend your way through Asgard, Midgard and Hell to pick up a key, a ring, a shield, a sword, an axe and a helmet. In order to do this you'll probably have to pick up a key, a ring, a sword, etc... but you must understand that the quests' objects are actually special versions of the above artefacts.
The quests must be performed in order, and are increasingly difficult. They should easily fill in the odd spots of tedium you run into in those long arctic nights.
You start off with 200 crowns and your brains. If you want to keep the latter inside your skull it's advisable to get yourself arms and armour fairly sharpish. You can buy these from various other characters, but you can also find them lying around.
You'll also need food and drink, which is there in abundance to start with, but disappears fairly rapidly as you and the rest of the cast munch through it. You can sometimes induce characters to give you things, particularly if the character in question - Thor, for example - suffers from total eclipse of the brain.
Thor in fact found himself on the receiving end of one of my earlier wheezes. First, induce Thor to give you the axe, then use the axe to kill an unarmed Thor. I regarded it as a lesson in life for the lad...
As far as the condition of your soul is concerned, you start off about half way between good and evil. Your goodness rating changes depending on whether you attack the good characters or the bad characters.
Working on the assumption that being good would probably mean not being sneaky, I decided to join the blackguards. It might also have had something to do with an encounter I had with arch goodie Odin, who first extracted 50 crowns out of me for a ring he apparently didn't have, then took a ring from one of his henchgoddesses in order to complete the transaction.
Thinking dark thoughts about gods, landlords and pawnbrokers, and feeling practically ruined, I hobbled off in search of a bargain basement sword. Fortunately, shield and helmet were to be found just lying around.
Rings were also to be found in abundance, and I got this recurring vision of Odin sitting behind a large leather-topped desk smoking a fat cigar. However, the 50 crown wonder did serve its purpose well enough.
Rings - except for Drapnir, which is one of the quest objects and about as useful as a lead hula hoop - give you access to Ringways, which act as teleports/bypasses. So in addition to the usual NORTH, SOUTH type commands you can use 'JUMP', which takes you Club Class to the relevant location.
After a bit of hopping around like this, I was well and truly lost. I asked for help, and was told the ringway nearest me led to... El Vinos? Surely not *the* El Vinos? Could I get a sandwich there? Would they let my editor buy a drink at the bar? Naturally I had to investigate.
When I finally got out, I'd drunk all the wine and eaten all the food I'd had with me when I arrived, and had had my wallet lightened considerably by one Alvin, billed in the manual as a dwarf, but clearly some kind of profiteer.
I won't tell you about my other attempts at the game, about my attempt to lock away all the food and wine in the universe and sell it to the other characters for huge sums, or about my attempt to sell an axe to a wolf.
Nor will I tell you how to finally solve the quest - matter of fact, I'd be grateful if you tell me. What I will tell you is that Valhalla is well worth the rather substantial cost.
I have very little than even approaches a complaint about Valhalla. The graphics are good and varied, and although the responses can be slow, this is because the machine is processing the moves for a number of characters, not just you.
Even this minor problem is dealt with by the way the program allows you to stack instructions. For example, you can type in GET FOOD, EAT FOOD, GO NORTH in quick succession, then see your character do all these. It's a good idea to do this, as it lets you get the drop on other characters. Even this minor problem is dealt with by the way the program allows you to stack instructions. For example, you can type in GET FOOD, EAT FOOD, GO NORTH in quick succession, then see your character do all these. It's a good idea to do this, as it lets you get the drop on other characters.
Another departure from the traditional format is the way the manual is actually designed to help you win. You get a detailed guide to the character, a couple of clues, and a list of common words and their accepted syntax.
This means you'll get into it straight away, so it's less frustrating than most games, although no less difficult.