Gold of the Realm
Magnetic Images Co.
Phoenix, AZ 85011
$39.95, color only
Reviewed by B.D. DeMunn
Are you ready for another endless trek through stone corridors or has dungeon burn-out rendered your loins ungirdable? Frankly, If Croc Dundee asked me for a date, I'd plead a headache. I've abandoned so many people in dungeons that I've been indicted for hero abuse. Nevertheless, here we go again.
The package illustration gently hints at what to expect: Young male in designer rags carrying candle. Key on floor. Bend in corridor. Stairs. I can hardly pop the shrink-wrap I'm yawning so violently.
As always, I scan the 24-page manual before I boot the disk. The story begins: "Nigel knew it was going to be an odd day when he awoke that morning." It ends: "Nigel said aloud, "I shan't ever be a prince, but with the Gold of the Realm, I would surely be a wealthy peasant indeed." In between, a stranger dies on Nigel's doorstep, but not before he tells him (choke, gaspl) about four castles, lots of gold and some evil stuff too. So greedy little Niqel, hurriedly buries the poor guy in the north 40, (without so much as an "Our Father") and boogies forth to find wealth, happiness and the medieval dream.
I'll let you decide whether you want to hook up to a compatible synthesizer or keyboard and share the music of Gold of the Realm with the next county. MIDI is still a sailor blouse to me. But the manual details the techniques involved, and I must admit, this is a new and unusual option. My ears were primed for some fancy tone painting, but the music is hardly memorable. In fact, when Nigel gets killed, as he often does, what do we hear? Barf. The Funeral March. Is there no other tune to die to? Anything by Ozzie 0. would do.
Having three levels of difficulty is nice for a change: easy, medium and hard. "E" dumps you in one gray castle with 79 screens to explore; "M" has gray and green castles, 159 screens; and "H" adds two more castles for a total of 320 screens.
So you, (as Nigel), enter a castle and get "stoned." Use both joystick and mouse for movement and manipulating of objects. If you care to map, as the manual suggests, it's one helluva job, because each stairway leads to a different area of the level above or below. And, of course the lower level is dark, so find that candle.
A "spook" wafts by occasionally and rips off the object you're carrying, relocating it who knows where. It also slurps your strength bar, so munch apples for a healthful pickup. Pills and potions abound, each with a specific use that is not immediately apparent. You must find the scroll to get a hint. As you're allowed to carry only three objects at first, you have to intuit which three, and find a convenient room to stash the extras for future use.
Without so much as a spitball, there's no defense against unfriendly beings except the magical items you pick up and speedy Reeboks. In some outdoor scenes you have to pussyfoot past snipers with Uzis. The villains in the "hard" option actually chase you right out of the castle. Some corridors are blocked by "castle mist" (i.e., force field), which sucks yoiur strength like soda through a straw. My Nigel came through one walking like Tim Conway's old man character. His little arms and legs were swinging like crazy while he was practically at a standstill. But humor wears off and irritation sets in.
And the keys! Green, red, blue, pink, gold, black, brown—but which color opens which door? Reminiscent of what old game? Was it Montezuma's Revenge that loaded you with red keys and blue keys? Anyway, there are lots of keys and lots of doors and never the twain shall match.
My ambivalence toward Gold of the Realm is understandable; I've been playing similar scenarios since Wolfenstein days—time and patience are running short. Younger adventurers will probably love it. I admit it has a certain challenge and charm about it, especially at the hard level, where a wizard causes a surprise transmogrification! Come to think of it, I responded very vocally to Gold of the Realm with muttered curses and groans and giggles. Something must have grabbed me besides my girdle.
"Deja vu—through and through. Not for moi; maybe vous."
Recommendation: Get a demonstration before buying.
Betty D. DeMunn bops around Buffalo, New York, in her Yugo, champing chicken wings and beef on weck. Evenings are spent killing and being killed. She used to crochet afghans.