Goodness gracious small balls of fire

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CASTLE Warrior: The name conjures a warrior so hard that even battlements quake in fear. Real life, or what passes for it, is never that good; it's the old story of warrior breaking into the opprssive character's castle.

Much the same idea as those classic mainframe games Hack and Moria, except this one's got graphics and sound. Pan back in time and space, in suitably impressive Hollywood style, to a land which has known peace for, well, at least 50 years.
Edelwulf the Great united all the tribes by the time honoured technique of whomping them until they gave in.
Edelwulf's son, Edelred the Good, was more of the peaceful and wise ruler type. Well, maybe "was" isn't quite right - but it might be, soon. For the one malcontent, Zandor, just happens to have poisoned the king's food, and the end is nigh for Ed the G.

For such a peaceful place, the king's son, Edred the Brave, is uncommonly handy with a sword. I suppose it could be called a ferrous deterrent, the Olde Worlde answer to the ICBM. Considering Edred's got the musculature of an overcooked chipolata and has the delicate footsteps of a skipping elephant, he's pretty sharp with the old blade.

Edred - that's you, if you're a little slow on the uptake - has vowed to bust into Zandor's stronghold and convince the old codger that handling over an antidote is a fair alternative to becoming the world's first human kebab.
Zandor is hip to his ruse, and has rigged up a few surprises. The entrance hall is filled with evil creatures, all of which aren't good for the health.

If the manual's to be believed, there's a large snake at the middle of the passage. Rice wine would be enough to take the feet from any hero, but it turns out to be a ravening typo in the shape of a snake which wobbles at you while spitting fireballs. These kill you, but the idea is to kill the monsters by returning the fireballs.

Zandor's castle isn't your standard Wimpey home. Once past the spacious entrance hall, it's through to an underground river, guarded by a dragon even more dangerous than a crazed rottweiler. A few well aimed spears get rid of that pest. Once on to the river - where a canoe appears, thankfully - it's a dodge-the-nasties trip along the river.

The only thing between you and Zandor is Zandor's house pet, Jibbs the Monster. This guy is not nice. He must be hell on the postman.
And Zandor isn't exactly a pushover, what with all the nasty spells he has a habit of chucking - a degree of agility is required here. After that, it's all over bar the residual monsters who pop up on the way home.

Castle Warrior, if you took it all apart and analysed it, could be quite impressive. But when reassembled it just doesn't hang together. The subject matter has stood the test of time well, but the small, badly animated sprites on a tiny screen do not help. The sampled sounds are excellent, yet fit together to form a tune of truly astonishing artlessness.

The only saving grace, sound-wise, is the inclusion of Delphine's funky saxophone on the high score sheet. When you offset this against the exceptionally dire drum effects, the sound's a bummer.

If you're after a Kick-the-Necromancer-in-the-Balrogs type game, Castle Warrior probably won't do anything for you. Mind you, after the rather astonishingly clever Bio Challenge, Delphine has set itself a hard act to follow.