The Speris Legacy logo AGA

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

This is one of those games that seem like it’s been in the pipeline forever. Some games just pop up out of the blue in a reviewable state with no introduction at all, whereas others meander along, eventually appearing when they’re good and ready. Speris is in the latter category, and when a title takes this long to appear, you build yourself up for something really special. So does it live up to our high expectations?

On first impressions the answer is yes – the graphics look bright and cheerful and a lot of attention to detail has obviously been paid but when you start playing, things are a little slow to say the least.

There are plenty of characters to interact with and places to explore but it’s the amount of repeating yourself you have to do – walking around the same places and talking to the same people just becomes exceedingly tedious.

Well, those are only first impressions and it would be unfair to judge the game on these initial findings. Okay, so a description of the game is needed here, I feel. As you can probably see from the screenshots, it takes its inspiration (???) from Zelda on the SNES. It’s an overhead adventure game which requires you to collect objects, get past enemies, and solve puzzles. You control the game either via the keyboard, joystick or CD32 controller, and walk around eight different levels on your quest.

I'm not going to completely write this off - it's still a playable enough game and if you're into adventures then I'm sure you'll gain a lot of enjoyment from it

On the first level called Sharma City, you wake up on the first day of your adventure, adjust to your surroundings, and find out the mission from the king. You also need to find the sword to arm yourself and get to grips with collecting gems – the main form of currency needed to buy things in shops.

You will also need to interact with other characters to find out about clues. However, the speech is rather time consuming and when you’ve already spoken to a character and just happen to walk past them again, you really do have to pay attention and walk quite far away from them or you find yourself taking to them again.

The sound effects work quite well with teleportation effects, sword whooshes and so on, but it’s such a shame the absolutely terrible music continues throughout. The tunes do change depending on which area you are in, but they’re all dreadful and the only way to avoid it is to turn the music off which is a shame as you miss the sound effects.

Graphics are worthy of a mention because they are so detailed and perfect for this style of game. The sprites look good and blend well into the cartoon backgrounds, and each part of the Sperislands have been thought out nicely, from the clinky little rooms to outdoor scenes.

Where is it now?

Remember we previewed a very similar game called Legends way back in Christmas 1994? Well, this was being published by Krisalis and looked set to rival the Speris Legacy but unfortunately, we don't know what on earth has happened to it. Last we heard on the rumour mill was that it was ready for release, but Krisalis weren't publishing it and it had been passed on to someone who was. But who is the mystery company and are we ever going to see this game? Let's hope so, because although the graphics didn't look up to the standards as Speris (when we saw it anyway) it looked very good fun and, dare I say, more imaginative.

The playing screen
The Speris Legacy: Explanation of five icons displayed in the H.U.D.
  1. Weapon Selection: Cho has a choie of weapons at his disposal. This shows you which one he has selected.
  2. Object Selection: Shows the object Cho has selected.
  3. Score: The more enemies you kill and puzzles you solve, the more points you get.
  4. Vitality Bar: Keep an eye out on this bar as your quest will end when this runs out.
  5. Experience Bar: Your experience builds as the game progresses. Kill monsters to build this up.
The Speris Legacy: Explanation of four more icons in the H.U.D.
  1. Keys: Collect the keys as you go around to open doors.
  2. Bombs: Bombs should be picked up on the way to destroy obstacles in your path.
  3. Gems: Find the Gems in order to buy things from the shop.
  4. Power Bar: The bar builds up to increase power of some weapons.
Control freaks

Control is either via the joystick, keyboard or CD32 controller. The controls you need to master are, of course, walking, using weapons (for instance, the sword or bombs) and speaking. Whenever you meet another character a speech bubble will appear over their heads and you can choose the appropriate reply you want to make. When you come into contact with an object, an eye icon will indicate that you can examine it to see what it is - you will probably also get a clue as to what it can be used for later. To access the inventory screen you can press F2 which allows you to look at and select the objects or weapons you have collected.

Final word

To be fair, there is nothing technically wrong with this game - the graphics are superb, the scrolling smooth, and some of the effects, such as teleportation, have been done very well. It looks the part with some cute sprites and detailed backgrounds.

However, playability wasn't quite up-to-scratch and although it did deliver some quite nice puzzes, I felt taht some of the time you were left wandering around without a clear idea of where to go next or what you're supposed to be doing.

Another point which just can't be ignored is the way you have to stand in exactly the right place to destroy obstacles such as flowers. It would be OK if you could casually slash them with your sword as you walk past but oh no, sometimes you end up spending precious minutes lining up your sprites to hit the flowers. And you do have to destroy them because underneath there are vital supplies and teleport squares. Teleporting becomes rather boring at times too, especially if you teleport yourself to the wrong place and have to wander around the maze all over again - very frustrating. Re-appearing enemies also become tedious.

I'm not going to completely write this off - it's still a playable enough game and if you're into adventures then I'm sure you'll gain quite a lot of enjoyment from it, but for the casual player who demands to be instantly entertained by a game (and why shouldn't we be?) then it's not going to be for you. There's too much to-ing and fro-ing for my liking, so I'll give this a miss and leave it to those who are fans of arcade adventures.

The Speris Legacy logo AGA

It's Zelda, but on the Amiga. Except it's not Zelda, but it's still on the Amiga. Steve McGill embarks on an arduous quest to find if Speris really has a legacy.

With so many Amiga games, a few hours play can tell the player whether it’s worthwhile or not. Some are more difficult and require extensive play. Yet others, remain a mystery and take up more time than they’re worth.

So which category does Speris Legacy fall into? Before we reveal all, it’s worth taking a look at what’s on offer.

Speris Legacy is the responsibility and creation of fresh new Amiga talent, Binary Emotion. It represents their attempt at doing Zelda, but on the Amiga. It even starts the same way as Zelda.

Cho, the central protagonist, wakes up in bed one day and embarks on the exploration of his city to find objects that are going to help him on a long journey; or at least that’s what the on-screen prompt tells you.

During his meanderings he can walk into buildings, open chests, engage in conversation, find things out, and explore the magical world he exists in. Conversations are engaged in by walking up to someone or something, and if a little red icon appears above their head, clicking on the joystick button or the requisite key to access the various conversation points.

Luckily, at the beginning of the game, there’s an extensive set of control options. These let you play the game using the keyboard – all keys are user definable – joystick, two button joystick, or CD32 pad.

Unsurprisingly, if you have a CD32 pad it represents the best method of control. It lets you cycle through objects in Cho’s inventory, lets him use weapons or utilities depending on the fire button selected, and flicks between the inventory screen and the normal play screen; this latter function saves the player from the hassle and continued tedium of pressing the keyboard keys when you want to swap things around in the objects screen.

Curiously, though, there’s no option available to switch off the music. At best the music’s soporific, at its worst it grates. So most of your time will be spent playing in silence to escape the monotony.

Which is a shame. Speris is a lovely looking game. It’s cute, just like Zelda on the SNES but unfortunately the gameplay side of things is the total opposite of Zelda. Whereas Zelda was a joy to play, with lots of little sub-tasks and environmental interaction to be engaged in, Speris is mostly a drudge.

There isn’t enough in the way of player feedback to feel that you’re ever really on the right vein or doing the right thing.

The first hint you get at things going horribly wrong is in the use of bombs. On the bottom left hand side of the screen there are three little icons with numbers beside them. They represent the number of keys, gems, and bobs which are held by Cho.

It doesn’t take long before Cho picks up an couple of bombs. Unfortunately the bombs can’t be set off in any way. There aren’t any on-screen prompts giving you a clue as to why not. No one that Cho’s spoken to along the way gives him a hint and basically it makes the player feel a bit clueless verging on completely useless.

A quick phone call to Team 17 sorted the problem, but it certainly made me feel that I would have found out by complete accident, which isn’t quite in the spirit of this type of game. I know it’s not just me either. A rival magazine editor had the exact same problem. Maybe two heads aren’t better than one, but in this case we were both as helpless as each other.

Now, this kind of accidental stumbling across the clues would be okay if the playing area was compact and bijou; that way you’d only lose a little time. But it’s not. Each level in its own separate way is huge. There’s too much to-ing and fro-ing, huffing and puffing, going on for very little gain. The lack of feedback letting you know you’re doing well or not is lamentable.

And it leads to a dilemma in the review. Technically, the game is admirable: the colours, the scrolling, the graphics, that kind of thing. The Amiga Format office is regularly used as an access route for the various smokers on our floor. On their way back they can see whatever game I happen to be playing at the time. Most stopped when they saw Speris being played to say something along the lines of, "is that Zelda?"

Such is the power of the game’s look and feel. Unfortunately, the most important elements, the sense of involvement, the sense of engagement, the sense of enjoyment, the sense of achievement; are all mostly absent.

It feels as if most of the effort’s been concentrated toward the technical side of the game at the expense of it being entertaining. One anonymous source summed it up by commenting, "if they’re going to copy Zelda they should’ve coped the gameplay first."

That’s why, as I approach the end of the review, I feel reticent about the conclusion. This game should have been on the end of a high mark. But after the initial oohing and aahing at how lovely everything looks you soon find yourself becoming slightly frustrated at the amount of pain for no gain that’s going on. This pain eventually becomes unbearable due to relentless tedium.

No doubt hard core adventure freaks will love Speris to death. But for the rest of us the connections between many of the events aren’t as logical as they could be – many aren’t logical at all – and this makes the game incredibly difficult. Anyone looking for a lovable romp along the lines of Zelda should steer clear.

The Speris Legacy logo AGA

Willkommen in einer neuen Ära: Mit diesem Game stößt Team 17 am Amiga in eine japanische Domäne vor - Actionrollenspiele in typischen Design und mit bester Spielbarkeit sind nicht länger den Konsolen vorbehalten!

In der Welt der Mega Drives und Super Nintendos genießen Abenteuer mit Actioneinlagen im markanten Nippon-Look seit jeher einen erstklassigen Ruf: Nicht umsonst hat sich um Titel wie "Secret of Mana", "Illusion of Gaia" oder die legendäre "Zelda"-Reihe ein wahrer Kult gebildet, dessen grafisches Identifikationsobjekt die niedlichen Kopffüßler sind – also Draufsicht-Figuren, die auf ihren eher kleinwüchsigen Körpern einen riesigen Kopf mit sich herumschleppen.

Dieses Markenzeichen abenteuerlicher Fernostware trägt natürlich auch der neue Coup der Engländer, die hier gewissermaßen zu Ende programmiert haben, was bei Core Designs verunglücktem "Dragonstone" noch gute Absicht blieb...

Im Gegensatz zu der knuddeligen Grafik gar nicht putzig ist die erschütternde Hintergrundgeschichte: Nachdem die Erbfolgeregelung in Königshäusern ja immer ein gewisses Problem darstellt, grift Prinz Gallus aus dem Reiche Speris kurzerhand zu roher Gewalt und brachte seinen älteren Bruder Kale eiskalt um die Ecke.

Solcherart auf den Geschmack gekommen, macht er sich nun daran, auch die übrige Bevölkerung dieses kunterbunten Fantasyländchens mit seiner schlechten Erziehung zu belästigen – doch da hat er die Rechnung ohne den zürnenden Vater gemacht.

Papa hat vom mißratenen Nachwuchs jetzt nämlich endgültig die Nase voll und heuert flugs den edlen Cho als Stammhalter an. Falls der Mietprinz dem rabiaten Gallus Einhalt gebieten kann, sollen ihm zukünftig Krone und Zepter gehören!

Kaum ist der Spieler in den Harnisch des joystickgesteuerten Helden geschlüpft, findet er sich auch schon auf einer scrollbaren Übersichtskarte wieder. Der erste Weg führt den bis dato unbewaffneten Cho nun in das örtliche Schloß, damit er dem Brudermörder und sonstigen Gefahren wenigstens mit einem Schwert begegnen kann.

Sobald der Säbel in der gut versteckten und sorgfältig verschlossenen Waffenkammer gefunden ist, überstürzen sich die Ereignisse: Ein kleines Mädchen in Nöten, Eisblöcke, die seltsame Artefakte verbergen, ein schrulliger Erfinder und unzählige andere Kleinaufgaben stellen sich dem Helden auf seiner beschwerlichen Reise in den Weg und bringen seine kleinen grauen Zellen gehörig auf Touren.

Bei der Erforschung ganzer Dörfer und einzelner Gewölbe gerät man meist auch schnell in Kontakt mit der schwatzhaften Bevölkerung, der sich gegen gutes Geld und gute Worte manch wertvoller Hinweis zur Lösung entlocken läßt.

Freilich sind hier darüber hinaus auch gute Taten gefragt, denn es gilt, Tonnen von miteinander kombinierbaren Gegenständen aufzutreiben und diese dann an den entsprechenden Örtlichkeiten richtig einzusetzen.

Natürlich werden ausgerechnet die interessantesten Dinge von den fiesesten Monstern bewacht, die man durch verschärftes Bearbeiten des Feuerknopf in Echtzeit bekämpft. Auch unterwegs lauert so manches Untier am Wegesrand, das aber für gewöhnlich nach ein, zwei Schwerthieben den Geist aufgibt und so den Erfahrungspunktevorrat des Helden anschwellen läßt.

Sollten dagegen die Lebenspunkte nur Neige gehen, darf er am letzten Speicherpunkt wiederauferstehen und netterweise sogar alle bis dahin ergatterten Gegenstände behalten.

So weit, so japanophil, und insbesondere auch die schräg von oben gezeigte Grafik mit ihren knallbunten Farben und den niedlich animierten Figürchen nimmt starke Anleihen bei den "konsolidierten" Vorbildern.

Wer das auf allen Amigas lauffähige Programm an einen Aga-Rechner verfüttert, wird zudem mit einem megaflotten 50-MHz-Scrolling und filmartigen Effekten (z.B. verschwimmt das Bild beim "Umblenden") verwöhnt.

Auch die bei jeder Location anders geartete Musikbegleitung gefällt, die Soundeffekte fallen demgegenüber jedoch deutlich ab. Die Steuerung geht grundsätzlich in Ordnung, bloß bei den hektischen Echtzeitkämpfen schlägt sich die Kollisionsabfrage etwas zu offen auf die Seite der Gegner.

Und ein klein bißchen müssen wir auch noch über das verhältnismäßig geradlinig aufgebaute Gameplay meckern: Wenn man sich nicht jede Kleinigkeit aufschreibt, geht schnell der Überblick verloren, denn obwohl hier tausend Namen auftauchen, kann man jedes Gespräch nur einmal führen – und das zudem auf englisch.

Aufgrund dieser störenden Details erreicht Speris Legacy nicht ganz die extrem hohe Spielbarkeit der bekannten Konsolen-Rollis, richtungsweisend bleibt das Programm am Amiga aber allemal – schon weil die durch viele Zwischenaufgaben reizvoll verlängerte Suche nach Gallus den Spieler für Tage, Wochen und Monate an den Monitor fesselt.

Schließlich macht es einfach Spaß, dieses Land zu erkunden, zahlreiche kleine Missionen zu erledigen und dabei allmählich in die tieferen Geheimnisse der Gegend einzudringen.

Und somit liegt es nicht nu an der mangelnden Genre-Konkurrenz, daß Amigos an Speris Legacy kaum vorbeikommen: Wer gehaltvolle und actionreiche Abenteuer sucht, wird hier wirklich hervorragend bedient! Das gilt in Kürze übrigens auch für die Dungeonläufer mit CD32, aber das ist wieder eine andere Geschichte, die wir Euch vielleicht schon im nächsten CD-Sonderteil erzählen können. (mic)

The Speris Legacy logo AGA

The Scaly Gripes, more like.

CUE TITLES: James Bond walks across screen framed through barrel of gun. Pounding Bond theme. As silhouette turns, electronic effect of flag popping into the screen and unfurling to read, "YOU’RE FIRED". Music segues into jaunty sitcom theme. Logo spins in from distance very fast – The Ex-Bonds. Logo zooms down to bottom-left of picture. Screen quarters down to show unshaven Roger Moore in patched coat pushing shopping trolley; George Lazenby in frayed dressing gown slumped in room lit only by television set; and smiling Timothy Dalton immaculate in evening dress – camera pulls out quickly to show he’s opening a new electrical goods shop.

CAPTION: By Rik Mayall, Ben Elton and Lise Mayer.
CAPTION: Additional material by Alexei Sayle (Cut to shabby student house. George Lazenby is wearing his dressing gown and watching television. Roger Moore is cooking. He cuts a slice of lard and plops it into a hot pan, adding nothing to it. A weedy tape deck is playing We Have All The Time In The World from the 30 Years Of James Bond album).

TIMOTHY DALTON (off): Hi, guys, I’m home! (He enters dressed as a friendly dragon. Puts down sheaf of leaflets for Toasty-Warm Double-Glazing). Look, we have some post. (reads from postcard). "Dear Guys, having a wonderful time making films and being served by groupies. Wish you were here. Love, Sean." That’s nice.

ROGER MOORE (stirring fat angrily): Wiggy hippy. (The song has finished. George Lazenby gets up, rewinds the tape and plays it again).

TIMOTHY DALTON: Oh, it was one of mine next. (Georgy Lazenby glares at him.) Sorry.

ROGER MOORE: Dinner’s ready. (They rush to the table. He serves three plates of watery fat. They look at the three plates of watery fat. Silence).

ROGER MOORE (cracking): What’s happened to us? Even Desmond Liewellyn gets more work. (Leaps up.) I can’t stand it. I’m going to kill myself. (Points gun disguised as cigarette lighter at his forehead.) Goodbye, cruel world. (Presses button. Eyebrows alight.) Aaarghh! Bastard! (Whirls around madly. Sees window. Runs, crashes through. Receding scream.)
(Others look out of window. Deafening smash.)

ROGER MOORE (off): Another miraculous escape! Bastard!
But anyway.

I'm carrying a huge bomb

I’m baffled. After four days of playing, I’m on level Five of Speris Legacy (there are eight, altogether) and even having come this far entirely on my own (we do practise what we preach, so nyer) I’m not comfortable with the way the game thinks. Specifically, I’m carrying a huge bomb that’s going to explode in ten minutes (in real-time; Speris has an individual grasp of time depending on the puzzle, but more of that later) and I have to pass a guard who’s obviously looking for the rebel hero I’m playing but doesn’t realise it’s me (I’ve sort of broken into this level by nefarious means).

I’m not being allowed to tell him about this incredible large bomb (Speris is noticeably fragile when it comes to dialogue, but more of that later), I’ve drugged the other guard and am now waiting for the shifts to change but haven’t realised how to trigger this (it’s happened before but I collapsed and died before I could investigate

(it turned out the bomb had exploded in my arms, but, cheaply, there was no "devastating" explosion) and I’m suspicious the game may have crashed as it’s done four times before (but then always when it was loading something from disk) because I’ve tried both waiting until a specific moment and general time-wasting).

I haven’t uncovered what the last switch I threw has done, I’m still fuming over having found the vital sleeping pills after scouring the entire level and trying my whole inventory on every roadside feature by pushing against a certain wall and finding a hidden room at a point where you can’t even see your character (Speris has an individual approach to secret rooms, but more of that later) and I’ve been temporarily thwarted in my attempts to return to Canada (but that’s in real life).

This, then, is the world of Speris Legacy. Contradictions abound, convenience struts alongside potty hamhandedness, sophisticated riddles nuzzle infantile bottom jokes.

You’d not be alarmed were you to meet Speris Legacy in a social capacity. You’d be impressed by its elegant appearance, soothed by its exclusively action approach to RPGs and would pleasurably chat to it for six minutes. Speris Legacy, you would discover, is plausibly agreeable. But its head is a bone ball of seething wrongness. Trust AMIGA POWER’s mind quackery to reveal THE TRUTH. Lie down upon this couch, Speris Legacy. Let your ind drift. Concentrate on something empty and useless, like trying to remember when AP first did a psychiatry review.
It’s all about mental illness.

REVIEWER: The first keyword is ‘speech’.

GOOD SPERIS: Whenever you approach a speaking character, I make a speech bubble icon appear above your head so you needn’t try speaking to scenery people. (I do this with examinable objects as well, except obviously the icon’s different.) I use a Monkey Island-style conversation approach – there are always more questions or answers to use than you need, and you can’t not get the information you require, but it’s all to enrich the atmosphere.

BAD SPERIS: But once you’ve finished a conversation it’s gone forever. The next time you speak to that character the only thing you can say is, "Goodbye, I must be going." If you’ve forgotten what they’ve said – perhaps you’re coming back to a saved game – tough. Why should I give quick recaps? You’ll be wanting name-checks next so you needn’t go around the nondescript cast trying to find the one you need to give the twenty gems to. And you should count yourself lucky if you do happen to find someone telling you something new. I don’t see any reason for having consistent, sensible links between who a character is and what they know.

REVIEWER: The next keyword is ‘logic’.

GOOD SPERIS: I make sure that once you learn how to do something – say, which blocks can be blown up – the rules stay the same. And I have a special buzz to tell you you’re on the right track, but you need something else to complete a task – for example, a key to open that door. When there’s something complicated like throwing a series of switches, I make a pleasing bleep when you get the sequence right. And I certainly won’t be so obscure as to be unfathomable.

BAD SPERIS: I want to anger you so completely that you’ll smash things up your disks. I don’t want to tell you things like you can’t use your bombs because you haven’t found a tinder box, or that you can’t open that door because you haven’t worn your cloak of invisibility to eavesdrop on someone mentioning they’re hiding a key in that room so making the door suddenly very important, and hope you’ve spent ages trying all your weapons and objects to jemmy it open.

I think it’s really funny to have you find a drill early on and describe it as strong enough to go through almost anything, when in fact I mean exactly one thing, incredibly further on in the game. I like it when you talk to people about plagues and suddenly half the village has died as if days had passed, but make you walk around for a certain length of time before a particular foreshadowed event will happen, like someone preparing a dinner.

I enjoy immensely having a character break down in sobs when her husband dies, but forget her troubles entirely when you give her an expensive ring. It is pleasing to me that pages from a book are found separately in the same barrel, and you have to leave the level and come back for the barrel to rebuild before you can find the next page. And I find it hilarious that, while I sometimes point them out with discoloured walls, I make you press against every overhang in case of a secret door, all of which must be found for you to proceed.

Sobs when her husband dies

REVIEWER: The next keyword is ‘controls’.

GOOD SPERIS: I support two-button and CD32 joypads, and have keyboard shortcuts to move through the weapons and objects rather than going via the inventory screen. My save disks are special, so I let you format new ones from a menu.

BAD SPERIS: But I’ll let you format them without any checks so you’ll at least once erase all your saved games.

REVIEWER: The next keyword is ‘writing’.


BAD SPERIS: I have made sure the text is extraordinarily badly-written, and I some cases "embarrassingly" miss-spelt. I don’t want yu becoming involved in the story so I’ve been sure to deal exclusively in stereotypes and have everyone act the same plot-convenient, often ridiculously unlikely way. I don’t want you to care in the slightest when I kill off the cast.

GOOD SPERIS: But I do have Minsky the Clue Cat, who turns up to sell hints. He’s personable and quirky.

BAD SPERIS: But I’ll make him appear suddenly and inexplicably in a location you’ve already visited and have no cause to go anywhere near again.

REVIEWER: The next keyword is ‘puzzles’.

GOOD SPERIS: I have a variety of puzzles from pushing aside blocks to giving objects to people. Sometimes I’ll be extra-sneaky so you have to work out that to pass a laser barrier safely you must push a monster into it or shoot a magical block on the other side of a chasm to make a bridge appear. I pledge to play fair.

BAD SPERIS: But I’ll leave you completely on your own. I won’t provide a framework so you learn with my help a new skill. You’ll have to work it out yourself, no matter how difficult – for example, that shooting a magical block across a chasm puzzle; you’d have no reason to suspect it would work, or, indeed, to stand on the edge of the chasm in order to see the block, except through pure luck or (I’d hope) sheer desperation. Or, of course, you could walk around and try speaking to all of the characters.

REVIEWER: The next keyword is ‘size’.

GOOD SPERIS: I am gigantic. Each of my levels is a large, realistic map – say, a village with buildings, fields, ruins and rivers, or a mine with rock faces, miners’ huts and exotic flora – and I have eight of them. You can glimpse parts of my world you have not reached on my atlas screen, although I must admit rumours you could move around here freely are false. I am linear. But at least this gives a sense of advancement.

BAD SPERIS: My levels need to be huge. How else could I spread out my characters and objects so you have to move back and forth over great distances to make the game longer to play? A-ha ha ha.

REVIEWER: The final keyword is ‘additionally’.

GOOD SPERIS: Although you don’t have a choice, I believe you will enjoy my musical soundtrack. There are dozens of pieces, each in keeping with the theme of an area, and none are rave or rock tracks. Also, if you’re low on energy or money you can cut down the flowers for a random prize. And I’d like to point out I’m unique on the Amiga. Except for Dragonstone.

BAD SPERIS: I have altered my mechanics so although a message when you find a prize reads, "You have found 1 x gem," suggesting you could find five or ten, you’ll never find more than one, so stringing things out further, I want to be so confounding and confused you’ll play me through hoping things will pick up, and while I indeed throw in imaginative set-pieces and have an underlying sense of fun, I have worked at least as hard as my goody-goody counterpart in dashing your hopes of seeing an action RPG – but on the Amiga. A balance has been achieved. I am cured! The key phrase is ‘speak now to a seeker of wisdom’.

REVIEWER: Oh no! I’ve suddenly resigned!

Speris Legacy: The game's protagonist
You play a hero who is obviously fat.

The Speris Legacy logo AGA

Price: £24.95 Publisher: Team 17 01924 267776

Look, it's definitely not Zelda, right. No way. Enter a cute adventure game like no other (nearly) and become king if you can.

Have you ever sat back and thought just how ridiculous the plots of most games are? Take Speris Legacy for example. A king has two sons. One is evil and twisted and the other is good. The evil one is heir to the throne but because he has black magic rituals in the basement of the castle (playing Gloom, no doubt), his father disowns him and makes the good one heir.

Not long afterwards the evil son kills the good son and the kingdom is thrown into chabs. However, the good son luckily made an agreement with a mate that should he be murdered he, instead of his evil brother, would succeed to the throne with the king’s permission.

I mean really! Could you imagine QE2 collaring the Prince Of Wales playing Gloom in the basement of Buckingham palace, disinheriting him and making Prince Edward heir? Then Charles bumps Eddie off, but lo and behold, the young prince has made an agreement with a mate of his to take over the throne if such a thing ever happened? What would the Prime Minister say? What would the London taxi drivers say?

And so yet another game with a hopelessly ridiculous plot ends up packing the RAM on my Amiga, a game which we cover disk demo’d and previewed six months ago but subsequently fell behind and teetered on the brink of not being released at all.

Are you...
Yes, Speris nearly didn’t get released, but Team 17 have given the Amiga a reprieve because of the reception both Worms and Alien Breed 3D got, and Speris, soon to be followed by Alien Breed 3D Whatever (AB3D 2 hasn’t got a name yet) are the fruits of this reprieve.

The plot is as outlined above, except the hero is called Cho, the bad guy is called Gallus and the murdered Brother is called Kale. You enter the game with Cho getting out of bed and what you do next is up to you. I mean this.

You walk out of his twee little cottage and can wander the length and breath of Speris city for hours doing nothing if you please. Only by talking to people will you get hints at what comes next and soon a scenario will build up and you’ll be off collecting weapons, useful objects and teleporting around the place like a Star Trek veteran.

Apart from moving in four directions (via joystick or keyboard) there are four main interactive functions Cho can execute. He can use a weapon, talk to someone, look at something or pick something up. All of these are accessed by pressing the fire button Which course of action he will take depends on who or what he is confronted with.

Most ‘people’ (and I use this term loosely) will talk to Cho. Some will have little to say, others will be extremely helpful. However, the baddies, easily recognised as various blobs, mutants, suits of armour and aliens, will not talk so pressing Cho’s fire button automatically attacks them. Some of these enemies are devilishly difficult to keep aim on though.

If Cho is able to talk to someone a tiny speech bubble will appear above his head as they approach. Pressing the fire button brings up a text screen which usually contains a menu of statements or questions. Sometimes you will have to choose Cho’s statements carefully, other times the conversations will be short. If he can look at something and give you a description a little eye will appear over his head.

lookin’ at me...
To start a fight you need weapons and Sperisland is happy to provide you with them for a price. This price will either be lives or money. I say lives because some of the enemies have a habit of knocking energy off Cho and when his energy bar becomes empty you lose a life.

To reach weapons you need to avoid or destroy the enemy, the advantage of the latter being that you can collect the gems the bad guys leave behind when they pop their clogs. These will pay for more weapons and objects in the shop and from casual passers by.

Weapons can be accessed either through handy keyboard shortcuts or via an inventory. This is divided up into Weapons and Objects and Cho can use one weapon and one object at a time. Sometimes it is necessary to combine weapons and objects, like hand grenades and matches while particular weapons or objects are required to defeat particular types of enemy or get past specific obstacles.

Cho even has at his disposal a pair of Zelda-like boots which enable him to travel super-fast. And just so you know that Speris is not at all like Zelda they’re called Speed boots, as opposed to Pegasus boots.

Sperisland is a pretty big place with lots of locations and rather too little to do. What I said at the beginning about wandering around aimlessly can stop becoming a joke after a while. Speris is difficult, not too difficult, just frustratingly so. There are precious few hints as to what you need to do next and sooner or later the endless meandering begins to wear you down.

There is a save option that allows you to enter and leave the game speedily and (I do appreciate these touches you know) if you’ve forgotten to format a save game disk it will allow you to do this without interrupting the game.

With just average graphics (some of the characters and objects are a bit blocky) and a tuneful backing track that changes with location. Speris is a nice adventure but nothing special. I kept playig it out of duty more than enjoyment, though when you do actually succeed at something it is a hoot. Some of the interaction is funny but a lot is not.

Speris had more potential though. With better interaction and more puzzly things to do, allied to more guidance in solving what puzzles there are it would have held my attention better.

Shhhhhh keep it under your hat!

Would the real Zelda please step forward. Zelda (not at all like The Speris Legacy) first appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) way back in 1987 and introduced video game players to a world of magic, mystery and danger.

The story is based in a place called Hyrule and centres around the Triforce of Power. When Princess Zelda learned that Ganon had acquired a piece of the Triforce, she broke it into eight pieces and hid them before she was captured.

A young man called Link learns of the Triforce and Princess Zelda and sets off to rescue both.

Since the original version, there was a second game on the NES called Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link as well as versions on the Super NES, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Gameboy Zelda: Links Awakening.

The Speris Legacy logo CD32

The Lecacy of Speris now joins hands with the legacy of the CD32. Steve McGill takes on the role of Cho to find out if there's something worth looking for.

One word could never sum up any game with the style and execution exhibited by Speris Legacy on the CD32 but if you were only allowed to use one word it would have to be ‘feedback’.

And, immediately after stating ‘feedback’ you would have to qualify the statement by following up with, ‘not enough of it’.

For that is the bane of this delightful looking game. Most of your time is spent searching for objects and methods of obtaining other objects to fulfill an overall quest.

The search areas are large and can take several minutes merely to walk across. Considering that you also have to search throughout the buildings and obstacles residing in the area, too much of your time is spent in completely unproductive, uninteresting, meandering.

At first it’s not too bad. The game environment is bright and beautiful and the characters you happen upon are interesting-ish first time round. But then everything begins to pale. The environmental interaction which made Zelda so enjoyable is mostly absent in Speris.

Too many obstacles which should be breakable aren’t and they remain as true obstacles which merely add tedious traveling time your escapades.

It’s a shame because part of the appeal of Zelda lay in the manner in which you could so easily be distracted by small sub-tasks.

While so engaged, clues to more important problems were hinted at, happened upon, or given away. It meant that even if you were making heavy weather of the main tasks, there was always something engaging to indulge in.

Not so with Speris Legacy. There’s no denying that the constant trudging around is the equivalent of a longevity investment for the game. It’ll take ages to complete and some people will be more than intrigued by the sparsity of clues and the tenuousness of some of the links between objects and tasks. Good luck to them.

But most people will be put off. There’s a fine balance between reward and satisfaction. By the time Speris rewards you, you’re more likely to be so peeved that spontaneous combustion seems the better option.

Still, it’s out on the CD32 and it’ll read a keyboard if you’ve got one attached. It’s not terrible or anything, but it has to go down as one of the missed opportunities of 96.

The Speris Legacy logo CD32

Fast ein halbes Jahr ließen Ocean und Team 17 das CD32 auf dieses märchenhafte Action-Rollenspiel warten – dabei paßt dessen japanophiles Fantasy-Design doch zu einer Konsole wie Stäbchen zu Sushi!

Auch wenn seine Untertanen nun von der AGA-Floppy auf die Silberscheibe umgezogen sind, ändert das natürlich nichts an den Problemen, die der König des kleinen Reiches Speris mit der Nachfolgeregelung hat: Eigentlich wäre ja Sohnemann Gallus als Erstgeborener an der Reihe gewesen, doch der veränderte sich nach dem Tod seiner Gattin so zum Schlechteren, daß der besorgte Papa lieber seinen Bruder Kale bevorzugt hätte.

Geht aber nicht mehr, weil der inzwischen völlige skrupellose Gallus ihn kurzerhand um die Ecke bringen ließ, um doch noch auf den Thron zu kommen.

Dem geschockten Vater reicht‘s jetzt endgültig mit seinem amoklaufenden Stammhalter, un er beauftragt den edlen Cho damit, wieder für Recht und Ordnung im Land zu sorgen – und verspricht zur Belohnung ihm die Krone!

Als Nutznießer dieses Familienzwist greift der Spieler zu Joypad oder – stick und schlüpft in die Rolle des neuen Hoffnungsträgers. Sein erster Weg auf der scrollenden Übersichtskarte führt ihn in das königliche Schloß in Sharma City, wo ihm seine Majestät eine Privataudienz gewährt.

Danach ist ein bißchen Sucharbeit im Eigenheim des Regenten angesagt, schließlich zieht ein Held nicht gerne ohne Schwert ins Abenteuer. Ansonsten verläßt sich unser Mietprinz auf seinen scharfen Verstand die Auskunftswilligkeit der überwiegend freundlichen Bevölkerung.

An angriffslustigen Ausnahmen herrscht freilich kein Mangel, speziell in den örtlichen Labyrinthen wimmelt es nur so von Feinden und Teleportern. Auch danach tauchen an den wichtigen Wegpunkten immer grimmige Gegner auf, die alle nach einer anderen Kampftaktik verlangen.

Ausgetragen werden die Echtzeit-Keilereien durch eifriges Betrommeln des Feuerknopfes, und bei einem Sieg regnet es Juwelen und Erfahrungspunkte, die im Lauf der Zeit den Energiebalken verlängern. Falls dieser trotzdem mal ganz zussamenschrumpft, wird man aber nur bis zum letzten Rücksetzpunkt zurück gescheucht und darf sogar die bisher eingesammelten Gegenstände behalten.

Für die selbstverständlich vorhandene Save-Funktion ist der Spieler dennoch dankbar, nicht zuletzt deshalb, weil die Jag nach dem Brudermörder Gallus über die Erledigung zahlreicher Subquests führt und damit ganz schön ausufert.

So soll man etwa einem schwerverwundeten Krieger Erste Hilfe leisten, eine im Lande wütende Krankheit bekämpfen, einem Priester in der Not beistehen, ein kleines Mädchen vor Monstern beschützen und ein etwas größeres mit seinem Charme beglücken.

Da ist guter Rat oft teuer – und will mit Eiserne bezahlt sein! Nur für diese Leckerei rückt der im Programm versteckte Kater nämlich mit guten Tips in brenzligen Situationen heraus.

Wer kein Speiseeis findet, wird aber jedenfalls über diverse Waffen und sonstige Sammelobjekte stolpern. Schon ziemlich am Anfang stößt man etwas auf ein ganzes Arsenal von Bomben, mit dem sich hinderliche Mauern und Felsbrocken wunderbar aus dem Weg räumen lassen. Auch ein praktisches Wurfmesser für energiesparende Distanzkämpfe und Zaubertränke, die ihrem Benützer Bärenkräfte verleihen, sind im Angebot.

Aber all diese Kleinaufgaben, Fundsachen und hübschen Erlebnisse am Rande stellen bloß einen winzigen Ausschnitt aus einem umfangreicheren Epos dar: Es ist eine ausgedehnte Märchenwelt voller Abenteuer und Überraschungen, die hier darauf wartet, erkundet zu werden.

Um so erfreulicher, daß die relativ geradlinig aufgebaute Story trotzdem auch Neulingen im Genre fair Erfolgschance läßt. Lediglich der Einstieg ist unverhältnismäßig schwer ausgefallen, daher verraten wir die Lösung für eins der schwierigsten Startprobleme hier ausnahmsweise in einem Extrakasten.

Von der Technik her hat sich durch die Umsetzung allerdings wenig bis gar nichts geändert: CD-Amigos müssen auf jeden Fall über Fast-RAM verfügen und sollten wegen der gut gemachten Buttonbelegung nach Möglichkeit auch ein CD32-Pad zum Steuern benutzen.

Ein Stick oder Pad mit zwei Feuerknöpfen ist dagegen weniger zu empfehlen, aber immer noch besser als der Griff zur Tastatur. Die leuchtend bunte Grafik gefällt vor allem durch die knuddeligen Figuren der Marke "Kopffüßer", dazu gibt‘s 50-Mhz-Scrolling und Über-blendeffekte.

Die abwechslungsreiche Musik klingt gut, paßt aber nicht so recht zu der Fantasy-Atmosphäre, und die Soundeffekte sind generell eher mäßig.

Daß wir die Bewertung diesmal etwas strenger vornehmen, haben sich die Programmierer selbst zuzuschreiben: Es ist schließlich nicht einzusehen, warum die CD-Fassung immer noch einen furchtbar lästigen Kopierschutz (die Codetabelle ist schwarz auf schwarz!) und kleinere Bugs enthält – manchmal bleibt das Sprite beispielsweise in Hecken etc. hängen.

Auch die auf der Packung versprochene deutsche Sprachausgabe ist reines Wunschdenken, sie existiert nur auf dem Etikett, das der Vertrieb versehentlich draufgeklebt hat.

An der Notwendigkeit, alle erhaltenen Hinweise soft aufzuschreiben, hat sich ebenfalls nichts geändert, weil jedes der noch dazu englischen Gespräche nur einmal geführt werden kann, bevor der Text wieder in den ewigen Datengründen verschwindet.

Und statt die Vorgeschichte in einem Affentempo über das Screen scrollen zu lassen, hätte man der Schillerversion lieber ein Intro oder zusätzliche CD Musik spendieren sollen!

Aber so ärgerlich diese Versäumnisse auch sein mögen, das erstklassige Spielkonzept vermag darüber hinwegzutrösten – zumal auch am CD32 kein ernsthafter Konkurrent für das langfristig motivierende Actionmärchen von Team 17 in Sicht ist. Also, worauf wartet Ihr noch? (mic)


Der Schlüssel
Generell sollte man mit jedem Gesprächswilligen unverzüglich einen kleine Plausch halten, im speziellen sollte man zu Beginn dem Haus im Südwesten einen Besuch abstatten – und dort den Schlüssel aus der Truhe mitgehen lassen.

Die Urne weist den Weg
Danach geht‘s zum östlichen Ende des Palastes, wo man einen Geheimraum entdeckt. Darin schiebt man die Urne nach links und betritt das blaue Feld, worauf Cho in einer Kammer landet, die eine Truhe mit dem besagten Schwert beherbergt.

Steter Hieb höhlt den Buschi
Jetzt läuft man so lange nach Süden, bis Büsche den Weg versperren. Ein paar Schwerthiebe an der richtigen Stelle öffnen den Zugang zu einem Labyrinth – und das eigentliche Abenteuer kann beginnen...


In Japan erfreuen sich Actionrollis im Knuddel-Look schon seit Jahren größter Beliebtheit; eine Entwicklung, die übrigens ein alter Bekannter aus westlichen Gefilden ins Rollen brachte: Richard Garriotts Seriendebüt "Ultima" begeisterte in den frühen 80er Jahren auch die Spieldesigner von Nintendo, welche gerade nach interessanten Titeln für die NES-Konsole suchten. Aber sie kupferten das Konzept nicht einfach ab, sondern drückten ihm ihren eigenen Stempel auf. Insbesondere ersetzten sie die runden-weise organisierte Kämpfe durch Echtzeitgemetzel und peppten die triste Draufsicht-Grafik im charakteristischen Stil der Manga-Comics auf. Das optische Erkennungszeichen bilden dabei die possierlichen Figuren mit den riesigen Köpfen und winzigen Körpern, die daher gern "Kopffüßler" genannt werden.

Das Ganze wurden dann "The Legend of Zelda" getauft und erwies sich als so überwältigender Erfolg in Japan und den USA, daß daraus eine ganze "Zelda"-Serie für alle Nintendo-Konsolen erstand. Ja, im Grunde kann man es sogar als den Ausgangspunkt eines völlige neuen Genres ansehen, das im Lauf der Jahre noch um manches Highlight bereichen wurde: Titel wie "Secret of Mana", "Soulblazer" oder das gerade veröffentlichte "Secret of Evermore" konnten alle eine riesige Fangemeinde um sich versammeln. Bleibt nur zu hoffen, daß man das von Speris Legacy ebenfalls bald behaupten kann!