Commodore User


Mandragore

Author: Fred Reid
Publisher: Infogrames
Machine: Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Commodore User #35

Mandragore

For many years the land of Mandragore was ruled by a wise and public-spirited monarch, King Jorian (Jorian? Why not Julian or John, or even Fred?) until he was struck down accidentally by a shooting star. With the end of King Jorian's benevolent rein came Lord Yarod-Nor (another silly name) who proceeded to impose a reign of evil tyranny on this hitherto peaceful land.

Thus goes the story. Obviously it's down to you to create and direct a team of four characters, a sort of medieval 'A Team', who will seek out and depose the naughty dictator (the plot seems familiar somehow).

Your team will have many mysteries to solve, and monsters to kill (or run away from) before you are able to confront the evil lord and do battle for the political future of Mandragore. A bit far-fetched? Read on.

Mandragore

Mandragore is a multi-scenario adventure game featuring a huge scrolling map of the land, and many detailed graphic scenes depicting the interiors of castles (referred to as chateaux), villages and monster-infested swamps. The graphic data for each of the ten chateaux are stored as separate files on both sides of the second of two cassettes, the first contains the actual program itself.

This means that, whenever you wish to enter a chateau, you have to load the relevant file from the appropriate side of the data cassette (if it sounds complicated, it's because it is). Disc users however will be pleased to note that all the chateaux data, as well as the actual program, is on the one disc.

Should you choose to create your own team of characters (you could opt for a pre-programmed bunch of weirdoes if you can't be bothered), you will have to define each member's attributes (strength, dexterity, etc) as well as his (or her) race (dwarf, wizard, human, etc), profession (warrior, ranger, thief, etc) and give each a name (they needn't be silly ones).

Mandragore

At this point, it would be a good idea to save your character definitions just in case you get slaughtered by a roving monster in the first minutes of play.

To control your team of characters, you type in an instruction and, where it's possible, the relevant character performs the action. A novelty here is a shorthand system that takes the drudgery out of the typing part. All the 29 actions can be initiated by typing in the first one or two letters, the program then prints the word (such as kill or attack, etc) in full. This took a bit of getting used to, and I'm not altogether sure it wouldn't be easier typing instructions in full.

In 'Map' mode, you can direct your team rapidly over the terrain to find a suitable village to pillage or a chateau to investigate. Movement is in four directions, North, South, East and West, and your travels will take you through woods and swamps and across plains and seas.

When your team (symbolised by a warrior emblem in Map mode) enters a village or chateau, the map disappears and a '3D' picture appears, with various objects in view including any of your characters still living. What you do with the many items you find while searching is up to you, but each scenario contains a problem to solve. Clues can be found in the collection of short stories accompanying the instruction booklet.

But playing the game was a bit of an anti-climax after struggling through page after page of instructions. It turns out that the villages are all almost identical, as are most of the chateaux.

The graphics are of quite high quality, although usually devoid of action. If, for example, you enter 'JIM STEALS KEY' Jim will then move towards the key and attempt to steal it. Sound is limited to a short repeating theme, suitable medieval in style and not too painful to the ears.

Personally, I would far rather play a decent arcade game or a good text adventure! If you get the impression I'm not too impressed with this game, you obviously catch on quick!

Fred Reid

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