See-Kaa of Assiah comes from Mastervision, famous for their takeover of the Wrath of Magra project and its subsequent marketing. I didn't think Wrath of Magra was a game which was developed to its full commercial potential, but alas Se-Kaa of Assiah has even less to offer the prospective purchaser. In fact it is so run-of-the-mill, and with so little creative invention, one wonders when Mastervision will stop floundering among the dead men and begin to realise that only quality will succeed in today's marketplace. Unlike music sales, software sales are not governed so much by taste - there is a definite good and a definite bad, despite what some magazines might lead us to believe.
When the Wise Ones ruled the land, produce was plentiful and the people happy. But then came the Dark Hordes, a mutated race of evil beings who wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the realm and stole the Great Artefacts of the Wise Ones.
These were the Rod of Light, the Hammer of Vib-ra and the Casket of Vib-ra. Your quest is twofold: first you must endeavour to find the whereabouts of the Great Artefacts which have been hidden within the grim Castle of the Dead in the lands of Assiah; second, you must escape from the castle and locate the resting places of the Artefacts so that you can return them. Once the Artefacts are in their rightful place, the Wise Ones regain their lost powers and can defeat the Dark Hordes, restoring peace and contentment to the land. Access to the second part of the adventure is conditional upon successful completion of the first section.
The game accepts full English sentences such as TAKE THE CASKET OF VIB-RA, and multiple commands are allowed using AND, so GET THE CASKET OF VIB-RA AND GO NORTH is accepted. Some special commands are TAKE ALL or GET ALL, and DROP ALL. There is a pause option and you can repeat your last command. The two 48K programs have over 170 illustrated locations.
So far, so good - so what's wrong?
The first major irritation is the input routine. An input routine is as fundamental to an adventure as graphics are to an arcade game. The routine used in this case repeats a key amazingly quickly, so it is almost beyond the fidelity of a rubber keyboard to get an error-free input, even if it is a single character - in tests, nine out often 'Es (for EAST) came up as 'EE'. The locations suffer from feeble descriptions and the graphics, far from making up for this shortfall, are often uninteresting and of poor design.
There aren't many problems, and those that can be found are illogical and their solutions arbitrary. After wandering for hours I finally found a way to kill the Guardian, only to find that no gain had been made, no new avenues to explore and no new objects - just one Guardian down.
Although two programs for £3.99 appears good value, I felt this package lacked any addictive quality. The first game largely consists of one long maze. It is not a game I will be returning to; 'nough said?
Difficulty: rather difficult, owing to lack of logic
Graphics: on all locations; unfortunately they replace text
Presentation: rather poor
Input Facility: awful auto repeat
Response: touch slow
Special Features: played in real time
EVIL rules the land - yawn - and only a hero can bring home the bacon by finding the Three Great Artifacts of Power and returning them to their rightful owners. In Se-kaa of Assiah you become the hero of the title - geddit? - and begin your quest in a village close to the dread castle of the Dark Ones. Enter at your peril and brave the forces of darkness.
The program is a two-part game which purports to be a text adventure with graphics. After a short foray into the fortress you will soon realise that there is precious little description or supporting text beyond your own input. The inevitable result is a featureless and empty world which fails to grasp the imagination successfully. The graphics are interesting but do not add enough to the very slim story line to hold your attention for very long.
In some ways the game might have been more likely to succeed if the programmers had decided to make it into either a graphic monster maze type game or a pure text adventure. The concentration on slick pictures has clearly reduced the power of the interpreter and the space available for words.
Although the program is cheap adventurers still have the right to expect more than this for their money.
MACHINE: Spectrum, Commodore 64
Attention please, penniless adventurers and apprentice Enchanters on low pay, this month sees the beginning of a revolution in adventure software prices.
Mastertronics, who have already put the cat among the pigeons with their budget-priced games in the arcade market, are launching a new label 'Master Adventurer'. Their first release, Se-Kaa of Assiah, offers 170 illustrated locations and 'full sentence analysis' in two 48K programs for the mind-blowing price of £2.99! On hearing this news, the White Wizard immediately despatched obedient dwarves to secure a copy of the program.
Hmmm... Well, the first thing to point out is that just because a program offers 'full sentence analysis' doesn't mean it's going to be any better at understanding what you type in. After all, 'Examine book' is a 'full sentence', so most games fall into this category.
In fact, Se-Kaa of Assiah only checks the first three letters of each word you type in and doesn't have a very large vocabulary. Furthermore, it isn't at all helpful when you get it wrong, saying merely 'Try something else' or 'That will get you nowhere'. Combine these two facts and you'll find that what puzzles there are become fiendishly difficult.
The aim of the game, which comes in two parts, is first to collect three legendary treasures and then, in the second part, to restore them to their proper resting places. The program is mostly written in Basic and is slightly slow in responding to the keyboard.
Every location has graphics and without these the game would be pretty dire since most locations don't have anything EXCEPT graphics - although there's a lot to look at, there isn't much to find. Unfortunately, although initially attractive, the graphics are rather repetitive and don't contribute much to the game. Even more serious is the fact that you can't save your position without quitting the game.
Mastervision, alias Mastertronics, are to be congratulated for bringing out these cheap label games. For people on a budget, Se-Kaa will be a useful purchase, but don't expect too much and be prepared to spend more on something else if you want a really good game.
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