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"Knightmare is a dungeon romp very much in the style of Dungeon Master. The system employed is the same as that found in Captive with a few enhancements..." A review of the Amiga game, by Paul Dale.

Amiga Review

by Paul Dale

Knightmare

Written by Tony Crowther (of Captive fame)

Published by Mindscape.

Review material is based on 20+ hours of play and completion of 2 of 4 quests.

Machine setup:- A500+512K trapdoor expansion+A590(2MB populated) WB 1.3.

  • Check the packaging for other machines.
  • Disk based copy protection.
  • Games saved to a separate preformatted floppy.

The Plot

4 youngsters trot off to some Castle to meet a Dungeonmaster who tells them of a Quest to collect 4 objects and beat the "- insert generic bad guy name- " at the end. If you're very interested there is a short story in the manual. It's only real use is to give the quest order and hint at some of the bad guys you'll fight.

The Manual

The production is o.k. It's thin and gives you the bare bone mechanics of how to play the game. What you won't get is much info (well none actually) on how spells work. You get to work that out yourself and is IMHO a *GOOD THING*. This extends to many mechanics of the game. A free hint is that there is a lot of difference between bumping into a wall and pushing a wall.

The Game

  • Characters

Characters can be M/F, left handed/right handed, human/elf/ghast/troll/insectoid ..., adventurer/gladiator/samurai/wizard/priest/genie ...

Everyone can use all things in the game and gain experience in different classes, it's just that you will progress quicker in your natural art.

  • Interface

The view is of the dungeon setting on the left, characters to the right, straight from DM and EOB. No compass which makes things tricky (there is a reason though).

All the standard stuff is there. Movement has the additions of up and down which become highlighted when relevant. The interface is mouse driven with a few keyboard presses for things like sleep and other shortcuts. One feature worth mentioning is the ability to have all 4 character's backpacks displayed at once. This makes moving things around very easy.

  • Graphics and sound

Not as sharp as EOB graphically but nevertheless good. You can choose from two default palette settings or customise one to taste. Objects on the ground are very difficult to spot until .... well, it becomes easy :-)

The sound effects are good although there isn't the same sense of dread as EOB due to no footfalls. Played through a hi-fi the combats are a good mixture of grunts and cries.

Mechanics

  • Combat

Characters start naked and weaponless so the first job is to locate clothes (armour) and weapons (balls, penknives, kitchen knives ...). As time progresses you'll find better weapons (bows and swords) and armour (kit yourself out in black leather trousers, jacket, boots and shades to be the coolest dude around ... :-).

Right clicking over a weapon will bring down a scroll with various attack options appropiate to that weapon. Right clicking on an option will select and activate that option. Left clicking will program that option for future use. This is indicated by a small red triangle under the weapon. Future right clicks on the weapon/object activates the programmed action. This works for all hand held objects (see magic below).

Weapons have different effectiveness based on character class, physical well-being, attack option, hand the weapon is held in and opponent.

The damage system is HP based. Each character has a HP bar which turns red when things get serious. In addition a character will lose stamina as a result of fighting. A tired character is less effective.

Each body area is capable of receiving serious wounds. These can be viewed by right clicking on a character's icon. An energy bar, backpack and stats are viewed here as well. Illness is indicated by different coloured boxes around the head and normally requires magic to cure.

  • Magic

There are three classes of magic associated with the three magic using classes of magi, priest and genie. Magic is point based and requires a suitable wand to use. Different wands giving different spell lists become available during the game.

The wands work much like weapons with a choice of spell made available. Additional spells appear as expertise increases. Preprogramming is allowed and vital for combat. In addition the level of the spell can be set by left/right clicking over the number at the top of the scroll. Spells needn't always work. Regardless, however, you will lose magic points.

It's a good idea to know your limitations although going for a big spell is necessary. To regain magic points you must rest. The problem is that regaining magic drains stamina. If you have no stamina you will take damage and die. Conserving magic points/stamina is very important for magic using types.

  • Difficulty

The game is well paced with a comfortable increase in monster and puzzle difficulty. There is little interaction with NPCs (as yet anyway) and the puzzles are are of a the find key, press pad, perform this sequence type.

The monsters do change as the design theory seems to be to introduce new tougher monsters rather than toughen up old ones. There is the same thrill of EOB when a new critter type is encountered and some are capable of tricks not encountered in older games. Fights quickly become very tactical and not just a slugfest. You must plan.

  • Reliability

Since I started writing this review many more hours of play have gone into this game and there hasn't been a single glitch or guru visitation (apart from the spoof Mr. Crowther has inserted). The software seems robust and smooth despite frantic combinations of keypress and mouse click (no lock ups here).

Summary

If you enjoyed DM, CSB, EOB you'll get on well in Knightmare. It's different enough not to be boring and has a good overall feel to it. I for one will be going toe to toe with [generic bad guy] in the end and would buy any future Tony Crowther offerings.

Paul Dale

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