Kobyashi Naru (Mastertronic) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

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Kobyashi Naru
By Mastertronic
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #44

Kobyashi Naru

Here is a very strange type of adventure indeed. It is certainly a very clever piece of programming.

Instead of kicking off with the plot, first let us look at the way the game operates, for that is of crucial importance. Arranged as a square arch around the top of the screen are a series of square boxes containing white on black icons. These are selectable via the joystick or function keys, and highlight in green. Below the arch, the word represented by the selected icon is displayed, and depending upon what type of command it is, may throw joystick control over to the location description text, some six lives at the bottom of the screen.

So that if, for example, you choose the up arrow, meaning GO NORTH, nothing more would happen than a change in location text, and a new graphic, which sits at dead centre of the screen. But if you chose analyse then the joystick can further be used to select any word of the location text.

Meanwhile, immediately below the arch, there is a banner scrolling continuously from right to left, usually detailing available exits, but which is interrupted to give a message in response to a command entered.

If that sounds complicated, it isn't when you get the hang of it, but it does make it a very difficult to play the game. It is easy to overshoot the required icon with the joystick, and there is so much happening on screen that the concentratioon in the plot is lost whilst checking out all the visual changes to the screen.

Now to the plot itself. You start off facing three doors, marked Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. You have three tasks ahead of you - each door is the way to a sub-adventure in Kobyashi Naru, the 'final trial for those who would be one with the immortals'.

There is a lot of detail in the text, but I immediately found difficulty relating to the humming from a Megaunit, and the Lasalite attached to it. I spent some time fumbling around with the joystick trying to find out more about them. I got the impression that I am alone in the world in not realising that a megaunit is too heavy to carry, and that a lasalite is firmly attached to it.

Worse, I could find no way of effecting a command to press or push the button the unit, since its description had disappeared from the screen by the time I had selected PUSH, and therefore no BUTTON word was visible to select.

I came to the conclusion that Kobyashi Naru is probably designed for people who can't type. But what adventure player, or come to that computer owner, cannot type? I'm not altogether sure that I like it. As I said, an extremely slick piece of programming, but for me, anyway, a virtually unplayable adventure.

Keith Campbell

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