FURY: ThE WRATh of TAljUN CAThU
by JEff POTTER, AC GRAphiCS & ENTERTAiNMENT EdiTOR
In The Beginning
"Just when you thought it was safe to put away your trusty 8-Bit ...AERION SOFTWARE presents FURY The Wrath of Taljun Cathu." So begins the instructions for this new (yes, new software for the Atari Classic computer!) action/adventure game.
FURY is similar to the popular Shamus game released by Synapse, and the JV Software series (Action Quest, Ghost Encounters, and Journey to the Planets) released long ago. You are an explorer who travels from screen to screen within several "worlds", armed with a gun of sorts, searching for treasure and other objects. Your quest is to conquer all five "worlds" (levels) by locating the key that opens the door to the next world. Of course if it were as easy as that, the game would be a cakewalk. Most every room has a collection of stationary and mobile monsters which shoot back at you. And at the end is the evil Taljun Cathu, who holds your princess hostage...
Health and Wealth
As a refreshing change, a shot does not kill you, but reduces your "Health" rating. This also works the other way: most monsters are not killed by a single shot, and some require quite a few well-aimed hits. Keeping track of your health becomes your main concern throughout the game. You can occasionally find Healing Salve within treasure chests, and can find an occasional stash of food, but obtaining these takes planning and a little bit of luck.
Money, or "Wealth" is another factor you must simultaneously monitor. You can find gold just lying around, but occasionally upon opening a treasure chest you find a "Midget Thief" inside that steals some of your hard-earned wealth. You'll need this gold to buy improved weapons and other items to better your chance against your enemies. These can be bought at the shops that show up (one or more to each level).
When I first read the instructions and learned this game required BASIC to run, I thought "Oh no, here's another slowspeed BASIC arcade game." But I was very impressed; the programmer apparently uses an extensive set of USR function calls to speed up execution. All player motion is very smooth and fast-moving (when necessary). Also, an impressive number of enemies and shots can appear on the screen, with no tell-tale signs of the program slowing down.
The background, and some of the enemies, appear to be in four-color character graphics. Your alter ego, and the moving enemies, are created with player/missile graphics, and are always animated appropriately. Apparently great attention was paid to detail on the artwork, which is all of good quality.
The programmer uses color and sound to aid game play. For instance, your little man will turn a lighter color to indicate his "shield of protection" is still active (it doesn't last forever). The sound effects are good, and the music score is adequate (it can be disabled easily, after you have heard it repeated often enough).
The state of each room is saved with sufficient detail to allow you to pop into a room, get one shot off, and run out. If you injure or destroy an enemy, he will be dead (or closer to dead) when you return to the same room. Some games (notably Shamus) always reset the state of each room upon entry. This meant you'd better clear out that room in one try (which I never cared for).
On first playing FURY, it seems impossible to get very far at all. But practice and attention to detail will teach you the ways to enter rooms and systematically destroy your enemies and scoop up the booty. The game becomes an engrossing strategic encounter, where you're thinking "okay, I need a little more gold to afford the 'protect' shield, then burst into the next room, kill off everything quickly, and scarf up the food there to increase my health rating." So it's not just another "blast everything in sight" game. Also, with additional practice you can get along without buying the enhanced weapons and rely mostly on your skill and wits.
FURY loads and runs correctly on a stock 800 with the BASIC cartridge, and on a stock XL with built-in BASIC. I found it refused to load on my 800XL with the US+ Operating System (which is no big deal, since I can switch the stock XL OS back in).
On two occasions I bought the "protect" shield and ran into a tree. I found myself stuck to the tree with no way out. The enemies were shooting off at angles that would never hit me, and I tried every combination of joystick motions without success. I finally had to reboot the system, as it seemed I would never get killed, and never get out of that tree.
The game doesn't seem to have a "Save Game" feature, so you always start over in the first room of the first level. There also isn't a "Pause" feature, but I found it's okay to remain indefinitely in a room after you've cleared out all the enemies. I haven't found any "Easter Eggs", or quick ways to skip levels. That doesn't mean there aren't any, however, because the notes say there are things left for you to discover.
One nit I have to pick concerns the game's documentation. It's a little sparse, and could have been a little more "polished." Case in point: included is a letter of sorts from Tal jun Cathu, declaring "all attempts are futile and will result in a most painful death!" This was obviously only a handwritten note, but would have taken on a more ominous tone had it been typeset with an Old English or Germanic font, maybe even done with Daisy Dot.
As a whole, I enjoyed FURY and would recommend it to all arcade game fans. It gives you a sense that practice and planning are rewarded with higher scores, a characteristic essential to a good arcade game. You'll find enough challenge here to come back for more. It's low price ($19.95 + $3.50 shipping and handling) makes it all the more appealing.
Please heed the programmer's notes and refuse pirate copies of this game if it shows up on your local BBS or telecom network. We Classic Atari users owe it to the remaining programmers who invest their time and money in our market not to pirate their work. FURY is a good value for game lovers. Buy it!
P.O. Box 1222
New York, NY 10471-1222 USA
Price: $19.95 + $3.50 shpg.