Strategic Simulations, Inc.
1046 N. Rengstorff Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043
$39.95, color only
Reviewed by Betty D. DeMunn
Yes, Goldilocks, this one is not too hard, not too soft, but ju-u-u-st right! So sit down, boot up and embark on an adventure that is both playable and solvable. Nothing fancy, mind you, but solid action from start to finish.
Questron II is a fantasy adventure game of exploration, quest and combat. Mesron, the great wizard, sends you back in time to Landor, where you must find a way to destroy the Evil Book of Magic before it is written. This book is so-oo-o evil that its very existence poses a threat of corruption and doom to all civilizations in our continuum. So go get 'em, kid!
Wafted to Landor with the bare essentials, (a dagger, rawhide armor, 200 food points, 200 hit points and 200 gold pieces), you begin your exploration of the area, and before you know it, you're dead. Not to worry. Mesron resurrects you from the winds of time. Next time remember to suit up and arm yourself. Now, visit some towns, update your weapons and armor and speak to everyone. Hints and clues abound. Find Mesron in the Hall of Visions and receive your first instructions. But until you're stronger and stocked with a little magic don't take on the castle guards or venture too far into the tomb. You may have been resurrected, but it's back to Square 1 with only the basics.
The game is controlled by mouse and/or keyboard. Personally, I like the keyboard because, with practice, you can play it like Rubinstein. The commands in the long menu are easily called up by initials, and when multiple strokes are required, they come to your fingers much more quickly than maneuvering the mouse. You prepare a character disk holding nine characters, but saving a game overwrites the previous saved game for your current character.
Speaking of characters, I had to overcome an immediate aversion to this game when I named my heroine "Cher" and a picture of Arnold what'shis-name appeared. When are you guys going to realize that women are playing too? Wise up.
Having played the first 8-bit version of Questron, I was eager to see the enhanced graphics on the ST. If anything, the landscapes are a tad overdone. My little guy would have been much clearer in a lighter costume or at least white sneakers. He almost disappears in the terrific detail of the forests and swamps and grasslands and mountains. But that's nitpicking. The glorious colors of the castle corridors and the gleaming enticement of the treasure chests more than compensate for my hero's camouflage. The sound track is eminently satisfying. Especially the crr-r-ack of a Magic Missile hitting a Carrion Creeper or a Disemboweler. The theme music echoes the first Questron, complete with endearing clinkers.
The review disk (Version 1.0) had some peculiar quirks. Once I bought three magic missiles and received over 300! (Needless to say, I was delighted.) Scrambled graphics caused some problems. Worst of all, the game crashed completely a couple of times. (By this time I'm sure these bugs are extinct.) And, for some paranoid reason, this ST adaptation calls for frequent proof of honesty; five times in one hour I was required to consult the manual for answers to questions. Hey! Once is enough! I've played Questron II on another computer and the protection was reasonable. Why so suspicious of Atari owners?
Maybe it's my lack of coordination, but I kept overrunning the creatures I meant to confront. Wanting to fight or speak, I would escape unintentionally, thereby missing a juicy bit of gossip or a rewarding battle. Beware of this syndrome. The traveling movement of your character can become too rhythmic or too fast.
All minor complaints. For rookie adventurers Questron II is first-rate. It teaches the folly of believing everything you hear, how to use magic wisely, how to wield weapons effectively, how to search for bargains in equipment, how to map, how to kill, maim and pillage. There are gambling casinos to further corrupt young minds—play blackjack, hi-low or Wizard's Squares. I financed the whole journey through long and patient sessions at the latter table.
For so-called experts who are desperate in Dungeon Master, twisted in Tangle-wood or pooped in the Pool, may I suggest playing Questron II covertly? None of your buddies need know that you're having a good old-time romp through a game that remembers that solvability is just as important as playability. And you'll slambang through to victory without a hint book. Feel good again!
On her scales from 1 to 10, the BeeDee Dragon gives Questron II six puffs.
Recommendation: For graphic adventure fans.