Mortals, gods and legends

Lancelot logo

Dave Ericsson seeks immortality as a god in Ultima IV and as a legend in Lancelot.

LANCELOT is the latest adventure from Mandarin Software and sadly it signals the end of the company's short but useful collaboration with top adventure writers, Level 9. The game is based on the historical and legendary accounts surrounding King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Apart from King Arthuer, the best recognised name linked with that era is Lancelot. It is as this shining example of knighthood that you will adventure through medieval Britain.

The adventure is loosely divided into three parts. The first concerns the arrival of Lancelot at Camelot and the court of King Arthur and his elevation to knighthood. This achieved, the second section involves his exploits to prove himself worthy of his knighthood by rescuing a number of wrongly imprisoned knights. These in turn return to Camelot to swell the ranks of the Order of the Round Table.

The third part follows on some 20 years later where your goal is to help Lancelot in his attempt to find the Holy Grail. The third part may be played independently of the first two.

As with all adventures from Level 9, the descriptive text is full and highly atmospheric. The command interpreter is an improved version of what was already a very acceptable system used in its previous games, Knight Orc and Gnome Ranger. The high quality graphics complement the flavour of the text.

CHARACTER interaction is a vital part of the game. Cooperation between Lancelot and others who are with him is necessary on a number of occasions.

Level 9's command Wait X means that characters can be instructed to perform an act at a particular time. For example, if a rock is too heavy for one man to move, it is pointless to tell others to move it without coordinating their push with yours. Gawain, wait 2, push rock. Ector, wait, push rock, and finally push rock: would ensure that all three of you would be pushing the rock at the same time.

A small scale map showing the major places you will need to visit in parts one and two of the adventure is supplied with the game. The command goto xxxx (or run to xxxx) will take you to that area. You should still draw your own maps to ensure that you explore all possible locations.

Remember throughout that Lancelot has always been depicted as the perfect knight. This was the time when chivalry grew of age and was the watchword of the Knights of the Round Table. To succeed in either part of the adventure, manners, honesty, mercy and honour must be interpreted correctly. His relationship with Queen Guinevere proving to be an exception. There is no room in this game for today's lager lout.

At the beginning, when Squire Lancelot first visits Camelot, he is unable to see the king straight away. He must wander around the town and find somewhere to rest for the night. While here visit Merlin. Although he has no major role in the adventure, his books are worth reading. On the following day be certain to end up at the court of King Arthur.

HAVING felt the touch of Arthur's sword upon your shoulder, remain in his presence until dismissed. You will now have a clue as to where you should go next. A number of quests have to be completed and several hints will be supplied to send you in the right direction. The completion of individual quests is not easy.

It is possible to perform some quests out of sequence, but only when you have tackled all of them will the program automatically lead into part three - The Quest for the Holy Grail.
This final section introduces Lancelot's son Galahad. It is only with his help that the quest may be accomplished. Again cooperation between Lancelot and others is vital to success.

The instructions are clear and explicit with a number of hints to novice adventurers. There is also a very readable section giving a resume of the Arthurian saga.

Lancelot is one of Level 9's finest adventures. It is not easy but for those that falter, an excellent hint sheet is available. Used sensibly this will enhance the enjoyment and elation at solving the many puzzles.

Lancelot logo

Level 9/Mandarin, Amiga £19.99

Right, you lot! Get ready for Chuck Vomit's special culture spot. Oi! Get that turkey leg out of your nose, you at the back. It's not every day you get your hands on a bit of learning from Vomit himself.

Cast your mind back to a land of myth and mystery. A time when Arthur ruled from Camelot, when the mystical powers of Merlin held sway and the virtuous queen was Guenever. A time when jousts and contests were held everywhere, when damsels relied on knights to free them from distress and nobleman's virtue was measured by his deeds. Into the midst of all this peace and harmony rides a knight called Lancelot. He is to become the greatest knight of the kingdom, he is to search for and gain a glimpse of the holy grail, and he is to betray his king on two counts - once as his friend and once as his subject.

Level 9's adventure is divided into three parts. In the first, you're just a novice pipsqueak of a knight with a reputation to gain. Rescue enough damsels, knights and ladies and you might just make it through to part three and the quest for the Holy Grail itself.

It's all the more absorbing because the text gives you a constant indication of how well you're doing. If you behave dishonourably, you not only score minus points, but get called Lancelot the filthy, Lancelot the dishonest, Lancelot the cowardly - and so on. Can't see what all the fuss is about myself - what's wrong with lying, cheating and cutting people's head off? As for that other business - Courtly Love. Bleuch! Count me out of that. All that mooning and sighing and wearing namby pamby ribbons! Yuk! Down here, if you're after a she-troll, you just bash her over the head with a billy-goat - it's the only way to make her blush.

The packaging comes complete with a map, so if you can't be bothered to make a detailed plan straight away, you can launch right into the action and use the GOTO and RUN TO commands to visit any location named on the map. Play this way and you really get into the questing atmosphere.

Puzzles are graded in difficulty from the very easy to the pretty hard with all the usual emphasis on interaction. Also pretty much as usual, I reckon that this would be quite hard to get into if you hadn't come across Level 9 before. Although none of the tasks in the first part are all that demanding, there are so many redundant locations and so many possible starting points that it's quite hard to work out what to do first. Still - that's something you could say about all Level 9 adventures, not just Lancelot. If you've played and liked all their other games, you won't care; if you haven't, try this out before you buy.

Oh yeah, the parser. Well, it's good but not that good. You can type in all sorts of really complex commands, speak and ask questions but over something as basic as ENTER TOWER, the program gets a bit confused; it only recognises enter - any word that comes after just doesn't make sense.

Can't say I was bowled over by Lancelot when I first saw it (it takes a ten ton truck to bowl me over, anyway) but the more I got into it, the more I began to enjoy it. Well designed and unusually constructed, it really makes you feel as if you're riding around in a medieval world - and you get some dead atmospheric graphics to boot, or should I say spur? Maybe I shouldn't. After the relative disappointments of Knight Orc and even Gnome Ranger Level 9 are really getting their act together. It makes a refreshing change to get away from all those cutey gnomes and bashful elves. In fact, I've always fancied myself as a bit of a knight errant: Sir Vomit, the Chuck - noble gobsmacker and keeper of the honour of the Holy Shnot... Whaddya think?