Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 4 NO. 6 / JANUARY 1990



START's Hot New Role-Playing Adventure


Pull Mystic Realm off your START disk, plug in your joystick and get ready for hours of fun! This dungeon game is reminiscent of Gauntlet: maneuver through a maze of rooms in fourteen levels as you fight ghosts, bats and evil minions. By first-time START contributor John Lince, Mystic Realms was written in GFA BASIC 2.0 and requires a color monitor.

Step into the dungeon with MYSTIC.ARC, MAPS.ARC and MYSTICSRC.ARC on Side 1 of your START disk.

Kidnapped by an evil vagrant, a beautiful princess lies captive in a damp dungeon. Unless a large ransom is paid, the vagrant will kill the princess. Unfortunately, the kingdom is poor and cannot afford to pay this ransom. Inevitable catastrophe awaits the princess unless a valiant young prince can avoid destruction while trekking his way through dungeons guarded by ghosts, slime monsters, bats and other vile creatures.

If you're tired of the old "rescue-the-princess" premise, START brings a new twist to the "valiant-hero" theme typical of video games. In Mystic Realm, you select your character at the beginning of the game and can play either the prince or the princess as the main character.

Getting Started

To play Mystic Realm, boot this month's START disk; the START menu program runs automatically. At the main screen, click on Prepare, then select "Mystic Realm." The program will un-ARC directly onto the destination disk you specify. To run Mystic Realm, double-click on MYSTIC.PRG from medium or low resolution.

The files CHAR.DAT, INFO_FIL.E and MYSTICRE.ALM must be in the same directory as MYSTIC.PRG.

Mystic Realm was written in GFA BASIC 2.0; the ASCII source code is on Side 1 of your disk.


When the game is completely loaded, a title screen will appear. At the top of this screen a prince and a princess stand ready. Simply pull the joystick (any direction) until the word "hero" (which is currently under the prince) disappears and the word "heroine" appears under the princess. As you would expect, the roles of the prince and the princess are reversed--the prince is now stranded in the dungeon and the princess must perform the rescue!

Underneath these two on the main screen are your enemies. You can get away from them either by finding alternate routes, destroying them or using your cloaking time (see below). The higher your level, the more damage the enemies can inflict.

Right under your enemies is a row of possible sources of power. Throughout the dungeons you must constantly eat and drink to keep your strength up. Under each item is a point value; for example, the fruit is worth 75 power points. If at any time your power reaches zero, the game is over. Your maximum power is 999.

Throughout your quest you'll need to gather all the weapons you can find. Although swords and axes are shown, only knives are actually used. The point value under these items tells how many knives the item is worth. For example, when you grab a sword you gain 25 knives. The game becomes very difficult if you run out of knives--and they can be hard to come by!

There are other items you'll find in the dungeon. Both shields and the scroll have no major importance in the game other than to increase your total score. The gemstone is used to power the energy transmuters (see below). Keys unlock doors. The money bag contains an unknown amount of gold coins which will be used later in the game to buy power and knives. The book with the cup of flames on it is very useful--it is the magical book of a long forgotten wizard that restores the holder to full power! Also, there's a time clock which gives you a certain amount of cloaking time. During this time, you can walk right through the enemies without being harmed. One strategy is to use this time instead of wasting knives on the enemies.

There are nine kinds of barriers in Mystic Realm and there is no way to get past six of them. You can annihilate the wooden gate (which appears as a boxed-in 'X') by hitting it with two knives. If you have a key, you can open a door by simply walking into it. The energy transmuter (which is the last item in the "barriers" row) becomes active when you walk into it with a gemstone. You'll need to also place a gemstone in a second transmuter nearby; when both stones are in place energy will be sent between the two and destroy anything in between them.

Playing the Game

You'll need a joystick plugged into Port 1 (the mouse is in Port 0). At the title screen, hold down the joystick's fire button or press any key. This will place you in the first room; if this is your first time playing I suggest you press the space bar to pause the game at this point so you can study the screen. Resume play by pressing the space bar again.

Mystic Realm's play screen includes your status information. On the top line is your power level, the number of knives you have and the current dungeon level. On the second line are icons representing the number of gemstones and keys you have. (Nothing appears there at the beginning of the game because you don't have any keys or gemstones.) On the far right of this line are one or more arrows indicating which direction(s) you can go to leave the room. An arrow pointing down, for example, means that you can exit the room by going down. Multiple arrows mean that there is more than one way to exit a room. Note that when you leave one room by exiting to the left you'll start in the next room at the far right of the screen.

mysticrealm.jpg The Mystic
Realm play
On your journey
you will need to
collect knives,
food and

At the bottom left of the screen there is a small clock and an orange line after it. This is your cloaking time. To activate it, press [C] when playing the game. Your character will blink and you will hear a dull tick. To deactivate the cloak, simply press [C] again. When the orange line is gone, you're out of cloaking time and pressing [C] will not help you. In the bottom right corner are miniature versions of yourself; this indicates how many lives you have left.

Game Control

In Mystic Realm, you move around the rooms by moving the joystick up, down or diagonally. Remember you can only exit a room if there is an arrow at the top of the screen pointing in the direction you want to go. Each level will have a space labeled "This way out." Land on this space to go to the next level. To pause or restart the game, press the space bar; to start over, press the [Escape] key. Press the [Escape] key at the title screen to return to the Desktop.

The Mystic Realm Maps

To view the maps of Mystic Realm, use the START menu program to Prepare a disk with the Mystic Realm Maps. Double-click on MAPS.PRG to begin viewing the maps. The space bar freezes the screen so that you have more time to study it. Press the space bar again to continue to the next map. The only way out of this program is to reset the computer.

The maps may be a little difficult to understand, especially if you look at them before playing the game. The black indicates walls, grey indicates where you can walk and the light grey indicates where each individual room ends. If you look at Level 1 on the map, the light grey divides the map into four separate rooms. The higher the dungeon level, the more rooms it has. The maximum number of rooms a dungeon level can have is 40 (levels 11-14). One difficulty with the maps is that every item in each room is shown as a single, color-coded pixel! I strongly suggest that you play the game a few times before looking at these maps. It will help you to understand the symbols' meaning.


Throwing a knife isn't too difficult, but there are a few rules. Rule 1: you must have a knife to throw! Rule 2: there must be some room to throw the knife. If you're right next to a brick wall and attempt to throw a knife in that direction, nothing will happen because there is nowhere for the knife to go. Rule 3: you can't throw diagonally. The easiest way to throw a knife is to stop, press the fire button and pull the joystick in the direction you wish to throw. Don't pull too long or you'll end up throwing more than one knife. At any one time, you can throw up to three knives.


After you complete the first four dungeon levels you'll come to the first break. At this point the program will show your power, knives, score and gold coins. You can now use your gold coins to buy power and weapons. Press [P] to begin buying power or [K] to begin buying knives. To stop buying, press the space bar. When you're all done buying and wish to continue the game, press [D] (done). There will be a slight pause while the next set of dungeons are loaded, and then the action will begin again!


•   Whenever you can, grab a key, a gemstone or anything else that looks interesting. These objects can be carried with you from dungeon to dungeon.

•   Watch when you eat the food! If you're already at or near maximum strength (999) it might be worth passing the food and coming back to it later. .

•   Conserve your knives--use them only when you must.

•   There are shortcuts. You don't need to enter every room of the dungeon to win, but since you don't yet know which rooms can be avoided (and how), you might as well scurry on through them! Good luck! If you get very good and plan to complete the entire game, I hope you have a couple of hours to spare (it took me over three hours--and I wrote it!)

John Lince lives in Warren, Michigan. This is his first program for START.