Zeliard. (game software) (evaluation)
by Anthony Moses
I don't like sword-and-sorcery games, but twenty minutes after beginning Zeliard, I took the phone off the hook and put my rudest Do Not Disturb sign on the front door.
A Japanese import from Sierra's Game Arts division, Zeliard is a well-crafted, entertaining hack-and-grab fantasy adventure. As Duke Garland, you must search for the Tears of Esmemanti, nine crystals that are the only defense against the demon Jashiin, who has laid waste the land and turned the princess into stone. Your quest takes you through caverns where you do battle with evil frogs, slugs, owls, fire-spitting serpents, and the inevitable giant monsters. Along the way, you have the chance to buy better weapons and increase your strength and endurance, and if you persevere to the end, you'll restore the land of Zeliard to its former happy state. OK, you've heard it all before, but Zeliard's familiar premise profits immensely from detailed graphics (even on CGA), limited but clever animation, satisfyingly convoluted labyrinths, and an original musical score that, for a wonder, is pleasant to listen to.
Not that there aren't problems: On slower systems the lags during screen changes may be infuriatingly slow, playing the game without a hard drive will involve frequent disk swapping (three 5 1/4s, two 3 1/2s), and after several deaths, you'll wish it were possible to save a game without leaving the cavern to go to the Sage's house in the village. But the first two problems are probably signs that it's time to upgrade your system, and the last problem will at least keep you on your toes. On the whole, the obvious care that went into the creation of Zeliard makes playing the game a lot of high-quality unsophisticated fun.