Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 74 / JULY 1986 / PAGE 62

Moebius: The Orb Of Celestial Harmony For Apple

James V. Trunzo

Requirements: Apple II-series computer with at least 64K RAM and a disk drive. Commodore 64/128 version scheduled for release by July.

Fresh on the heels of the celebrated release of Ultima IV, Origin Systems has produced yet another program worth raving about. Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony capitalizes on the current popularity of ninjas by casting the player as a youthful martial arts disciple on a trip through an oriental world full of danger and excitement.

Moebius combines all the familiar elements of a computer role-playing game with an arcade-style combat system that's both challenging and functional. That is, the arcade-style combat wasn't included merely to show off the program's superior graphics. Your ninja disciple must become proficient with both a sword and his bare hands to defeat enemies and gain experience points that heighten various attributes.

The theme of Moebius is simple. After learning all he could from his ninja masters, a wayward disciple named Kaimen stole the Orb of Celestial Harmony. This act has brought much suffering to the land of Khantun. Kaimen has set himself up as supreme warlord and is conducting a reign of terror. He has imprisoned the Holy Ones, replacing them with his own evil monks. Monsters roam the land and infest the waters of Khantun. A savior is needed--a warrior who has devoted his life to Moebius and who has trained with the Sword Master, the Martial Arts Master, and the Zen Master (for all is not won through force of arms). You are that savior, the ninja warrior.

Protect Your Karma

Moebius employs a number of single-keystroke commands, much like other Origin games such as Ultima and its sequels. Your commands are varied: You can communicate with the many characters you encounter during your travels (even the skeletons of the victims of Kaimen--if you know magic), swing your sword to cut vegetation that blocks your way, use an item in your inventory, throw a shuriken, and much more.

The game is made even easier to play by the use of windowing. Windows often pop up on the main screen to offer various options. For example, pressing the C key to communicate opens a window and gives you the choice of asking a character for help, to follow you, to stay and wait for you, or to go away.

Much thought is required to play Moebius well. The mystery and intrigue of the Orient permeate the game, and virtuous behavior is often rewarded. You must think of others before yourself to be successful and preserve the purity of your Karma (very important).

Furthermore, strategy, planning, and quick thinking are a must. Poor villagers are afraid of men carrying swords and are averse to helping them; yet, hungry tigers cannot be fought off with your bare hands. It's up to you to decide when to arm yourself and when to trust in your karate skills.

Tiger Teeth And Panda Hair

The realm of magic is not ignored, either. In Moebius, however, magic works a little differently than in dungeon adventure games. Magic requires a strong mind, so you must fast and chant special mantras to activate such spells as Speak with the Dead, Waterwalk, or Cure Sickness. Likewise, your mind must be clear to divine the nature of artifacts. When this magic is combined with another component (tiger teeth, beetle pincers, condor feathers, etc.), you can teleport, use ventriloquism, cause paralysis, and invoke many other charms. Incidentally, the magical components must be found and then either purchased or earned, To get panda hair, for example, you must first trap the bear.

Moebius embodies its own unique playing style and feel, and it gives the player an unmistakable sense of the Ear East and Zen philosophy. As a programming effort, it equals anything on the market today: graphics are top-notch, ranging from full-screen images to highly detailed temples; onscreen instructions and help are easy to use and aid in play; and the challenge of solving Moebius ensures many hours of enjoyment as you travel through the realms of Earth, Water, Air, and Eke to find and reclaim the Orb of Celestial Harmony.

Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony
Origin Systems, Inc.
Distributed by Electronic Arts
2755 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94403

A typically ominous screen from Moebius:The Orb of Celestial Harmony.