Fantasy role-playing games seem to have become to the Amiga what text adventures used to be to the Spectrum. They're a doddle to write, and are only any good if the people involved really care about what they're doing. More often than not it seems they don't, as the few really good ones tend to get swamped by hundreds of extremely mediocre ones. Here's another of the hundreds.
The plot is stock fantasy. You, as a test-pilot called Major Tom (or Thom, depending on whether you believe the back of the box or the manual), have just woken up after a plane crash to find yourself in a mysterious land populated by dwarves, dragons and zombies.
Your task is to find a way of returning to your own world. I didn't quite get that far, but I'll bet £5 the ending is of the 'Ha! It was all a dream... or was it?' variety.
While the game is about as traditional RPG as it's possible to get - with spells, shops to buy weapons in, stamina points, and tons and tons of numbers - it's been represented so as to conceal most of the mechanics beneath the surface.
You only really have to worry about three numbers, and those are displayed clearly on the screen at all times. The rest can generally be forgotten about. So a big 'hurrah' there.
What's rather less praiseworthy is the dull way the game goes about everything. The graphics are drab and repetitive, making it difficult to believe you're exploring anything other than, well, a load of computer graphics. The sound, too, smacks of wasted potential, with a dreary tune (optional) and a little atmospheric birdsong, but nothing that actually relates to what's going on in the game.
The graphics are drab and repetitive
This minimalist approach doesn't only cause aesthetic problems. When you come across a town or village, there's no way of telling which building is which from the outside. So if you were after, say, a new sword, you'd have to go into every single building, with masses of disk accessing each time, until you found the sword shop. A sign hanging outside would have made all the difference.
More annoying than that, however, is the tiny area of the map you get to see through the scrolling window. It's very difficult to get a proper feel to your surroundings. And it's all too easy to walk past a massive city or something because , although it would physically be within clear view of your character, it's just off the edge of the screen so you can't actually see it.
Battles are another thing that would work a lot better with some decent graphics and sound. A battle in progress consists simply of one splodge sitting next to another, with one of the splodges eventually disappearing.
Where's the excitement in that? Worst of all, there's nothing more insulting than being told 'You have died' in tiny letters at the bottom of the screen when - admittedly - you die. Is it really that insignificant an event?
With all those gripes, and the game's inability to inspire me to play for any longer than I really had to, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give it a pretty low mark. Lords of Time surely someone's used that name before) might find its fans among those who really, really like this stuff - there's plenty of adventuring to be done - but it didn't interest me at all.