Death in the rocks

Realm of the Trolls logo

Do you remember Manic Miner? I bet my floppies that the programmers of Realm of the Trolls do. To be fair, it is slightly more graphical and atmospheric than that, but it is "one of those sort of games" with a spot of Apple Panic and Dig Dug thrown in.

If you are fluent in French, Spanish or Italian you might be able to read the instructions. The English version doesn't make any sense.
From what I could understand - and I am open to suggestions you assume the role of an elf whose duty it is to enter the treacherous troll tunnels to steal back all the amazingly fabulous elven relics which the avaricious if somewhat tasteless trolls have purloined from the elves some time in the past.

The caverns take the form of a series of halls. There are quite a few of them - a whole separate data disc full. In each hall the elf must collect all the valuable elven treasures - he may also take some of the art treasures the trolls have collected and pick up some healing potions before locating and leaving via the exit passageway.

To assist in moving around the hall there are infrequent magic portals which instantly transport you to the destination of your choice. In some halls there are even lifts pulled up and down by small bats which obviously don't have a very good union.
Another form of public transport is the wagons which perpetually run up and down the tracks in a few of the halls. For the pedestrian there are always the ladders.

One of the hazards of being a cave robber is encountering the owners, in this case the trolls, who carry around large baseball bats and attempt to play nine innings with your head, which is decidedly bad for your elf (sorry).
There are several ways to deal with them. You can use your mental powers to stun them, use your awesome magical powers to blow a hole in the floor and kill them or, by far and away the best, you can leg it.
A very annoying features is that the elf can be controlled by joystick but you must click the mouse to use mental powers and magic.

The animation is not up to much, though the scenery of decomposing walls and lichen-covered masonry is quite effective at building up the dungeon atmosphere. The same cannot be said of the sound effects which, aside from the thunk of bat on skull, sound like they might have loaded wrongly.

If you find the puzzles boring, or if they are too difficult, you can always use the scene editor. This, as it turns out, can be a lot more satisfying that playing the game. As well as all the usual stuff for building ladders and walls, you can change the personality of the trolls.

Only to be recommended if you have difficulty finding something to do on Sundays.

Realm of the Trolls logo

Rainbow Arts/US Gold, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

No-one's ever satisfied, are they? There you are, half of the known civilization under your people's control and what do they want? More, that's what. Greedy lot.

Zzap's Thing: Wot a raunch bag! 'Go and hassle the trolls a bit', you're told. It's all right them saying that - they're not the ones who are going to get badly beaten about the head and neck, lost, cold, wet and generally not very happy, thousands of feet under the ground, tramping through unknown, unmapped troll-infested caverns.

But, they're the bosses. And anyway, you'll have a little bit of help. Yep. Your scientist friends have very kindly kitted you out with a clever little matter atomiser jobby, to destroy the very fabric of the earth (only little bits, mind). And you do have your handy magic bolts for protection.

So, get yourself into that telepod, set the right co-ordinates (no beaming yourself to some nice, sunny beach), and do the business of sorting those little brown devils out.(N.B. There's a construction set included in the game as well, if things start getting a bit tricky, and you just want an easy life! Damn, that bit doesn't go with this story very well).

Kati Hamza Whatever else it might do for you (and we'd better not go too much further into that) nobody can say that Realm of the Trolls pushes either Commodore to its limits. Forget involved gameplay, exciting graphics and brilliant soundtracks 'cos if you start thinking too much about that sort of thing, you'll make yourself ill. So if it hasn't got all of those things, what exactly has it got? Bit of climbing, bit of collecting, bit of shooting and that's it. not much to show for your 10 or 25 quid. In fact, I just can't stop myself thinking of all the other things you could buy with that sort of cash...
Maff Evans Realm of the Trolls is a real 'love it or hate it' game. Basically, if you can't stand levels and ladders, you won't like this. The biggest pull Realm of the Trolls had for me was the brillo music at the beginning. Unfortunately, the C64 version has nothing in the way of music - a bit disheartening, I thought. Still - there are some well-drawn sprites kicking around the dungeons and though the backdrops are all black, they create a sort of dark, suspense-filled atmosphere. The construction set helps prolong the game's life, too. If you're dead against platform games, you'd be well advised to steer clear of Realm of the Trolls, or at least get a look at it beforehand. Otherwise, buy it, but don't expect too much.
Paul Rand I didn't think I'd go a bundle for Realm of the Trolls before I saw it but though I'm not exactly not mad keen on platform games, I found it quite a good laugh, for a while. One thing I was rather pleased with was the general presentation of the game itself. While background graphics are a tad on the dreary side, there's some interesting animation on the main character and the troll baddies, as well as a lot of nicely drawn objects to collect on the way and add to your score. There's a meaty, beaty tune on the Amiga loading screen, which compensates for the dreary game effects - mostly strange whoops and whizzes (sampled on the big machine, not so sampled on the little brother). As with the vast majority of platform games, you are bound to get a bit sick of playing after some time but there is the built-in construction kit which lets you rip the game to pieces and put it back together should you get a bit bored.
Zzap's Rockford: Randy's a natural!