Once a knight is enough

Paladin 1 logo

PAL-ADD-IN? Wassat then? A new board for European screens? Oh, you mean Paladin as in Paladin and the Lamp? No? Hang on. I'll look it up in the dictionary... Ah. Paladin: A knight errant, a paragon of knighthood. Hmmm, doesn't say anything in here about running around killing and maiming and relieving people of their wealth.

As a young hopeful, you are striving to become a fully fledged knight in Arthur's court. In order to prove your worth you must tackle hazardous quests, rescuing damsels - some of whom look more wanton than distressed - and fighting off dragons, all in the interests of self-improvement. Wouldn't it have been easier to do a course with the OU?

To aid in your quests you will always have a small band of witless comrades-in-arms, or cannon fodder, depending on how honest you want to be. Their job is to do all the dirty and dangerous work while you reap all the glory. Well, that's what being a knight is all about, isn't it?

However, the first puzzles any aspiring Galahad must solve is how to get the game started. Not as easy as it sounds. First of all, unless you want your gallant hero to be called Brandon, you have to call up the quest designer and create a new Paladin with a decent name like Bonecrusher. Once saved, you must quit back to Workbench and click on Paladin proper.

After battling with the obligatory copy-protection password, nothing happens. Time to look at the manual again. Select New from the first pull-down menu and your guest is begun. Or rather, your quest to begin your quest has begun.
Now do battle with the fearsome requesters, which want to know everything about all the files Paladin seems to need. These requesters lack the simplicity with which they are normally endowed and can become quite a chore, alternating incessantly between using the keyboard and the mouse instead of the option of one or the other.

The quests range in difficulty from Easy (read quite hard) to Very Hard (read impossible) and are designed so your character can gradually improve over each quest until he tries out for his knighthood.

The improvement made each time depends on how active the character has been, so pop out from behind your human shield every now and then and kill a half-dead monster just to keep up appearances.

The quests are entertaining and the graphics are generally good. Some sound effects are relatively pleasant, but being subjected to them constantly would give even the most patient of knights cause to reach for the volume control.

Various aspects of your knighthood are tested - like your ability to bounce swords off your bare chest, laugh in the face of dragon's breath and, most vitally, how fast on your feet you are.

One of the most important things to master is the deployment of your minions and making sure they take out a fair number of baddies before they get it, as they more than likely will.
Amulets, potions, weapons and the rest of the department store list of objects which litter dank hovels and enemy castles are present in cornicopial plenty, all waiting to be picked up and horribly visited upon their former owners. Encumberance rules are properly applied to movement.

The icon-driven system of main management is unnecessarily complicated by the addition of command combinations, such as Alt plus left mouse button, in order to change a character's direction. Someone should've told Artronic that a mouse was meant to make things easier.

The quest builder gives the scope to design new adventures for your friends or alter the present ones to make them easier or harder to your preference. Subsequent data discs are planned which will interface to the present system.

While dispensing with some of the raw randomness of true roleplaying, there is more of the feel of actually participating in a proper adventure. So if any man would be a knight and follow a king, follow Paladin.