Michael B. Williams
Requirements: Apple Il-series computer.
It's a beautiful day. You decide to stroll along the oceanfront, where you encounter a frail old man with a fascinating story to tell. He speaks of another land, a land where the Ring of Chaos and the lost Ring of Order rule supreme. But there is no order in this land, and you listen curiously to the old man's plea for you to find the Ring of Order and bring peace to this faraway world.
As you nod your head in consent; a feeling of drowsiness overwhelms you; and you lapse into an uncontrollable dream. When you awaken, you find yourself staring upward at purple skies decorated with red streaks. You realize that you are indeed in the land of which the old man spoke. You stagger to your feet and, accompanied by a native from the land, embark on your Ring Quest.
That's the story behind Ring Quest, a graphics adventure game from Origin Systems. In this adventure, you are the main character of the story. You don't just helplessly observe while the story unfolds in front of you. You actually make the decisions that determine the course of your character's life—or death.
You use simple English sentences to indicate what you want to do. If you see something interesting to the north, you simply type "Go north." If you need to get to the other side of a river, just type "Cross the bridge." But Ring Quest can also accept complex commands, such as "Get the sword, rope, and ring; then run north."
What's A Manticora Look Like?
Ring Quest also has lively graphics—full-color pictures that enrich the scene with animation. Eyes bulge, claws clamp, hands grasp, and fire flickers, even as you ponder your next action.
Although the graphics are very good, Ring Quest is not just a graphics adventure. Its text descriptions, though not as descriptive as Infocom's all-text adventures, are vivid and interesting enough to stand on their own. For those so inclined, the graphics can easily be turned off (and just as easily turned on again—you'll definitely want to see what a manticora looks like).
An unusual feature of Ring Quest is its inclusion of arcade sequences as a part of the adventure. It's rare for a text-based adventure game to contain any type of action-oriented challenge. And since diehard adventurers are likely to cringe at the thought of having to play an arcade game, the games can be by-passed altogether with one simple command.
The first game, Cliff Climber, requires you to dodge falling boulders, snakes, and rock slides while scaling the side of a chasm. In the second game, Flyer, you try to guide yourself down to a platform surrounded by a sea of flames.
Ring Quest for the Apple II has something for everyone: text and graphics adventure, animation, arcade action, and challenging puzzles.
Most of the time, though, you and your sidekick, Gorn, will try to pick up clues that will lead you to the Ring of Order. To win the game, you must first locate and nullify all the sources of an impenetrable force that prevents your access to the castle, where the formidable enchantress Lisa holds the Ring of Chaos.
Along the way, you'll have to deal with a greedy troll, an unforgiving werewolf, a wise old man (whose services do not come cheap), and a manticora (a cross between a man, lion, bat, and scorpion) who absolutely refuses to let you cross the bridge over a deep chasm.
Those are but the least of your worries. The holder of the Ring of Chaos, the beautiful, but evil, enchantress Lisa, has a nasty habit of appearing out of nowhere and casting spells that make life difficult for you. She can instantly deplete your water supply, suddenly reverse your internal compass, or temporarily afflict Gorn with the intellect of a three-year old. But when she really means business, she'll utter "Tele-trans!", and you'll suddenly find yourself randomly transported to some location usually miles away from where you were.
Ring Quest comes with a clever introductory adventure booklet, which interactively tells the story behind your quest. At the end of each passage, you have two or more options. Each leads to a different passage in the booklet and a slightly different story line. Origin Systems also provides a laminated, erasable map of the strange world. Some of the major landmarks are already drawn on the map; you can easily add others with the felt pen provided.
Despite the enchantress Lisa's unorthodox tactics, Ring Quest is not difficult to solve. It should make a good first-time adventure because of its pleasant, colorful graphics and its straightforward story line.
This game has something for everyone: vivid, descriptive prose for those who like reading, and colorful, animated graphics for those who don't, arcade sequences for those who like action, and engaging puzzles for those who don't. If you're looking for a little adventure, or action, you just might want to make a Ring Quest.
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