ROM Computer Magazine Archive ROM MAGAZINE ISSUE 8 — OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 1984 / PAGE 32

by Gabe Torok


    If you enjoyed The Raiders of the Lost Ark at the theatre, Broderbund has a real treat for you. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the adventure (created by Ultrasoft Inc. ) shows an uncanny resemblance. You no longer seek the Ark,(for those of us who saw the movie, we know it's in a crate in a warehouse somewhere held by the Government), we now seek "The Mask Of The Sun". Mac Steele: archeologist adventurer, treasure hunter, replaces Indiana Jones: archeologist adventurer, treasure hunter, as the main character. Dalag is replaced by Roboff as the not-so-esteemed colleague, and the location moves to central Mexico. Here, the similarities end.
    Roboff stole your latest discovery, and you in turn, stole an amulet from one of his previous digs. Back at the University, you discover the link between the amulet and the legendary solid gold mask of the Sun, when the amulet suddenly releases a pale green gas knocking you unconscious. When you come to at the hospital after two days, the doctors tell you that they are mystified as to what the gas was, but they did concoct a temporary antidote to slow down the rapid degeneration your body is now undergoing. There references to the anulet indicate that perhaps the Mask of the Sun holds the cure to your condition.
    Thus begins your adventure to discover the location of the Mask. After meeting Professor de Perez in South Central Mexico, you and the guide he gives you begin your long journey through numerous Aztec ruins. But beware, Roboff and a band of Mexican thugs are forever on your heels.
    Once inside the main pyramid, the going can get tough. The gas room got me several times before I found out that there is only one way out, and that's SW. The faces that bar your way require a password. I had to start from the beginning and go through several dead ends before I found the word that worked. This you will find on the statue(idol) if you take the North fork after the Hut.
    Finding the Mask of the Sun was no great difficulty this point on, except that there are two masks, and I got the fake one. You have to search twice in the altar to get the real mask, otherwise you're in a sealed room with now way to get out.
    The mazes are horrible. The next maze was totally hopeless and unmappable. Here I was forced to cheat and read the next step from "A Shortcut Through Adventureland" to find my way out. Unfortunately, I got carried away with my reading, thus the riddle in the sun room was not difficult. (I hate people that cheat!) From this point on, there were several days worth of mazes, before I finally got caught by Roboff. Death came swiftly when I fought him. Next time I was smart and gave him the Mask, only to be confronted by a jaguar. After taking care of this creature, I found my exit to victory. (I will not divulge how. It would be unfair to tell you everything!)
    The graphics are well done and you'll enjoy the multiple commands as well as the exceptionally large vocabulary of the program. Some of the travel sequences seem a little slow, and one tires fast of the same scenery, but it does give the effect of motion and travel, although not enough to deplete your supply of Gravol. However, The Mask Of The Sun will not only keep you on the edge of your seat for hours, it is destined to become the number one graphic adventure game of all time.

The Mask Of The Sun
Broderbund Software Inc.,
Playability: 9
Challenge: 9.5 (Unless you Cheat)
Graphics: 9.4
Documentation: 6
Overall Rating: 8.9

    Radar reported numerous meteors bombarding the Earth. Not ordinary meteors however, but meteors bringing deadly bacteria to wherever they land. My mission, once accepted, is to destroy incoming meteors using any and all missiles available on this planet, prevent any epidemics and cure those areas already infected, using whatever means available at my disposal. For difficulty, I chose level 1, thinking it to be the easiest. (If you, dear reader, recall in previous issues I confessed to never reading instructions unless it was the last resort ... )
    The game becomes not so much a game once you get really involved. It FEELS like reality. It consists of four parts to a turn. In part one, the computer displays the world's status report, including the location and level of the epidemic outbreak, the number of casualties, and for a fleeting second, the password to arm your nuclear devices, should you need to use them.
    Part two shows you a coded map of the world from which you can decide which countries are more likely to be the recipients of a neighbor's disease. One thing that must be kept in mind at all times; those countries that control the world's arsenals and guidance systems MUST be kept free of the epidemic! That means Russia, the USA and Western Europe. Well, not reading the instructions first, the moment the Soviet Union got bugged, I took great pleasure in nuking them. Mistake!!!!
    Where was I? Oh, yes, part three is your radar map showing location and range of incoming infected meteors. This is where you start making decisions. You can only do so much, effect two cures, fire two antimeteor missiles, or blow a continent to kingdom come, should you remember the password to arm the rocket's warhead. If you pick a cure for a particular country, you're into part four.
    The statistics for that country come up on your screen, and a selection of cures available are displayed. Pick the right one and you may effect Stasis, or immune level. Miss and that country won't have a chance to do much more than infect those closest to it. Out with the password and nuke them fast!.
    I scored so badly the first time around, I had to read the instructions. What with 786 million dead and half the world glowing like Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, and an overall score of 92 out of a possible 1000, I would have to admit defeat to the epidemic.
    The results were much improved when I finally digested and followed the instructions. The improvement was on the score (356 out of 1000) with a mere 721 million dead, mostly due to my itchy triggerfinger over Africa.
    Subsequent plays showed little improvement. I began to take this game all too seriously. The involvement was strictly involuntary. The game dragged me into itself, and I felt every megaton of the rockets I launched out of desperation. The sound effect and the computer shaking when the bomb went off added to the realism sufficiently to make me want to use a more subtle cure.
    Before buying this game, check with your doctor. It is not recommended for those with weak hearts, or a nervous disposition. The simulation is too realistic, and can be extremely absorbing, and is guaranteed to cause an Epidemic of line-ups for the program.