My goodness, they've really rolled out all the Adventuresoft crew for this one. Teoman Irmak - who's often cited when superlative graphics are in the offing - hasn't been seen since Touchstones Of Rhiannon. As with that release, the title of this is a bit involved, running something like He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe Superadventure - The Terra quake Game. It's being released in adventure and arcade forms by Adventuresoft's parent company US Gold.
For anyone not familiar with this He-Man chappie, let's run through the story line... Skeletor never rests in his struggle to overwhelm Eternia and become the kingdom's absolute ruler. Now he has developed an Earthquaker device, which controls through hypnotic rays a horde of Rockbinders, gigantic beasts created from boulders who can gnaw their way through solid rock. They can also reconstruct themselves after injury in battle.
Under Skeletor's malevolent supervision the monsters are even now tunnelling beneath the foundations of the Shadowlands and approaching the borders of Eternia.
You play the part of Adam, Prince Of All Eternia; you must take up the Sword Of Power, assume your He-Man alter ego and challenge Skeletor. I don't know about you, but for my liking that story has a bit too much in common with Never Ending Story.
The gameplay is pure Adventuresoft - bright white background, scruffy presentation with no highlights in the text, and a general feel of untidiness, as at the very start where the question 'Do you want to restore a saved game?' remains on the screen for the first location. It's very confusing and untidy.
Still, there's a good loading screen without multicoloured screech patterns around the border but with mesmeric countdown in true US Gold fashion, and the adventure begins with a picture of King Radnor seated on his throne. On either side of the picture are, presumably, He-Man and his adversary Skeletor. This Skeletor isn't the pushover he sounds-the creature has a hunky body just like He-Man's, with a skeletal head perched on top of bulging muscles.
The pictures are of a very high standard, though many might find they don't match those in Touchstones Of Rhiannon.
Often the pictures use the mirror-image trick to conserve memory - understandable, given the number and quality of graphics throughout the adventure.
Masters Of The Universe is another cloned Adventuresoft release from a few months back, but it's dropped considerably in price and should be a good buy.
DIFFICULTY: rather easy
INPUT FACILITY: verb/noun
SUPPLIER: US Gold/Adventuresoft
MACHINES: Amstrad, Spectrum 128K, Spectrum 48K, Commodore 64/128, Commodore 16, BBC/Electron and IBM PC
PRICE: Amstrad/Spectrum 128k/CMB 64 £9.99, Spectrum 48K £8.99, BBC/Electron £7.99, IBM PC £19.99
Earthquakes threaten Eternia, and King Randor summons Prince Adam to seek out He-man, for only he can save the land. As the Prince, you know better than to set off in search of He-man. Instead you must find the Sword Of Power that actually transforms you into He-man, Without it, you will get nowhere.
A tour of the locality reveals the extent of the damage caused by the quakes. A stable block has collapsed, and the Palace Gardens are in a state of ruin. Down at the inn, many of the locals have gone for shelter, and, presumably, inner-strength! There, if observant, you might meet an old friend in the crowd.
Knowing the secret, you will soon make your way over the Jawbridge and into Grayskull Castle, where your old friend, The Sorceress, confirms that indeed, it is none other than the dastardly Skeletor who is behind the quakes. She offers you help in defeating him, but first asks you to restore the Timelinks. Do this, and a potent weapon will be yours.
Before long you will be traversing tunnels and caves, and emerging into the Shadowlands. Along the way you will meet up with many characters. It pays to stop and talk to them! But you won't find Cringer. The necessary program logic would have been not only mindbending, but too large, says Mike Woodroffe, one of the co-authors. "Adventurers try out ANYTHING" he explained. "Imagine what would happen if, for example, Cringer was Battlecat, with He-MAN Riding him, and He-man decided to drop his sword!"
There are also some real nasties to test you - Beastman, Mantanna, Merman, and Skeletor - and there's no shortage of monsters, either. If the scorpions don't get you chances are Rockbinder or the Shadow Weaver will.
A lot of thought, plus some trial and error, is required to determine how to either pass or defeat them. There's a fair number of sudden death situations, in doing this, which normally would be quite unacceptable. However, the way it is handled in this game, makes the adventure very playable, and, perhaps, even more realistic. After all, in real life, it is quite likely that you would walk into a trap with no warning, yet would be able to save yourself had you had the knowledge of how to overcome it.
When you walk into a dangerous situation, there are usually a few moves before you die. Thus if you make regular use of the QSAVE option, you get the chance for a little experimentation, to try to discover the way out, before it is too late. And then you can return quickly to the point at which you saved, by QLOADing an old position.
This is the adventure game - do not confuse it with the Masters Of The Universe arcade game. There are over 80 locations and, except on the BBC and C-16 versions, each has an attractive and instantly displayed picture. The BBC and Spectrum 128 versions have augmented text.
Masters Of the Universe is not easy. The hand of Stefan Ufnovvski has once again been at work here, in conjunction with Mike Woodroffe, Teoman Urmak and Graham Lilley. So you won't be surprised to find strange devices like a Minus Manale, a Moleculator and a Wycord lying around.
The EXAMINE command is required extensively, and is often rewarding in disclosing hidden objects, and vital clues. Unfortunately, although many clues describing objects put you on the track of the correct solution, implementing it is another matter.
If you went along to the local hardware shop, and asked for a Minus Manacle, for example, you would expect more than just a rundown of its purpose - you would hope for a set of operating instructions. The Manacle, to do its work, must be attached to something, although you are not told so. That would be fair enough if the required command was simple, with plenty of alternative words. However, you must FIT MANACLE To xxxxxx. FIT MANACLE on its own, in the right location, will not do. PLACE, ATTACH, PUT, and FIX are not allowed.
Other than this, here is another excellent adventure from the Adventure Soft team.
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