Magnum fans strike back

Treasures of the Savage Frontier logo

SSI * £24.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse/keyboard * Out now

Why! Why do they do it? Why does everybody who creates fantasy art, especially material for Dungeons and Dragons, always draw half-naked women with three breasts heaving over the top of their bras? I pick up the box of this game and what do I see? A picture of a half-naked woman with heaving breasts.

In the early 70s, when people's clothes started to get really silly and the drugs started to get more ridiculous, two hippies came up with the concept of Dungeons and Dragons. Thus the board game equivalent of the Anorak was born.
Basically D+D comes down to rolling lots of funny shaped dice and having a really stupid name like Aaron the Warlock, so you haven't missed anything if you haven't played it.

Now D+D come to the Amiga - wahey kids - and it's breeding and multiplying, but don't worry - it isn't that bad. The game has been planned quite well, but nothing new has been explored.
Graphically it's now't to shout about - it's all very functional until you interact with other characters. The other characters you talk to in the game are well detailed but sadly inanimate. The way you control your characters is very similar to most of the adventure games of this ilk. Basically you move them with the mouse, clicking the character first then the area you want to move to. Boring, but it works.

When you first begin adventuring, the method in which you explore things is a bit confusing - you have to click on the various icons to search, look and so on but again it's completely unanimated. There is quite a subtle twist to this game. You don't play a complete dribbling idiot who takes on hordes of bloody thirsty psychos, you play several dribbling idiots - what fun.

To determine your characters' various faculties you have to do all the rolling of the dice that you would normally do before a game of D+D.
You need to roll for Dexterity, Skill and all that sort of cobblers, but the programmers have kindly made it a quick roll option which re-rolls all of the values for your various skills at the same time so you don't have to do them individually. When choosing your character you have to create the disposition of the character as well as the physical statistics.

So if you're a Black Sabbath fan, you can create a character who is an evil goddess, lawless goblin with a large baseball bat to whop unsuspecting grannies over the head with. The whole point of this exercise is to save the Savage Frontier from Cataclysmic war (ho hum), free Liorkh from its evil captors (snore) and regain a powerful magical item that has been lost for thousands of years - and still be home for tea.

The whole series is set of a large area and this one is also set in its own world, a pretty immense creation that makes Elite's six galaxies with 1,000 planets in each look a bit small.
Well, it's a definite must if you play dungeon and dragons but haven't got a load of other people to play with, but you average adventure game buff could do a lot better.

Treasures of the Savage Frontier logo

US Gold/SSI * £32.99

It never rains, but it pours. Yes, Treasures of the Savage Frontier is another fantasy role-playing epic sporting the usual assortment of monsters, magic, swords, sorcery and the like.

The problems with it is that it's not designed to be played on a computer; it's a role-playing game that has been automated. Treasures makes hardly any use of the Amiga itself, but is just a fantasy game that doesn't rely on the use of a pen and paper. In fact you have to refer to the guide so much for details on characters and quotes that the game may as well have remained a paper-and-dice effort.

I must say that the presentation of the package is very good, with good clear rules books and journals - the handbooks that form the basis of the game. It's sad to see that these games have been created as an alternative for fantasy freaks to play against computer-generated characters instead of playing their fellow fantasy friends. Stick to the dice versions.

Treasures of the Savage Frontier logo

Während das Dragonlance-Epos weiter hinten im Heft mit "Dark Queen of Krynn" ein eher unrühmliches Endes findet, ist dies erst der zweite Teil von SSIs AD&D-Grenzgänger-Saga - aber deshalb leider keineswegs rühmlicher!

Denn auch vorliegendes Rollenspiel verlor im Zuge der Umsetzung einiges vom matten Glanz, den die PC-Version verstrahlte, wenngleich es rein optisch doch etwas besser gefällt als die Dunkelkönigin. So vermag man hier zwar wenigstens recht gut zu erkennen, wo man gerade ist - das Problem ist aber, überhaupt erstmal irgendwo hinzukommen! Die geradezu erstaunlich umständliche Handhabung verlangt es vom Spieler, sich zunächst einmal via mitgeliefertem Tool plus Workbench mühsam ein Savedisk zu basteln, was besonders für Solo-Floppyisten zur Qual gerät. Die vorgefertigte Sechser-Party ist ebenfalls nur auf diese Weise zugänglich, darüberhinaus darf man sich natürlich auch selbst eine stricken oder den Trupp aus dem Vorgänger übernehmen. Daß das durchaus wechselintensive Programm zudem nicht mal harddiskfähig ist, kann im Herbst '92 wohl nur als schlechter Scherz verstanden werden...

Gameplay (viel verzwickte 3D-Metzelei), Steuerung (Maus bzw. Menüscreens) und Sound (nette Titelmusik plus Uralt-FX) bewegen sich ganz im Rahmen dessen, was man aus zahllosen anderen SSI-Rollis kennt, gleiches gilt für die Story: Die bösen Zhentarim unterdrücken noch immer die Zwergen-Stadt Llorkh, wer will es den Wichteln da verdenken, daß sie eine Revolution planen? Wer will es der Party verdenken, daß sie den lieben Kleinen helfen möchte? Und wer will es uns verdenken, wenn wir langsam die Nase voll haben - weiter so, und die Forgotten Realms sind wirklich bald zu vergessen. (jn)

Treasures of the Savage Frontier logo

After the likes of Eye of the Beholder 2, is there really need for games like this?

Shock, horror. Yet another mediocre RPG lands on my desk. Do these people really think I have nothing better to do with my time?
Look back over the last six or seven issues and you will see some truly awesome RPGS. Legend, Ishar, Storm Master, Eye of the Beholder II, they've got it all - great graphics, good sound and most importantly, instant playability. Even more importantly this playability lasts throughout the game keeping you coming back time and time again. Now let's see what Treasure Of The Savage Frontier has, shall we? Great graphics? Nope. Good sound? Nope. Okay so it has a playability factor, yes? No.

The first thing that will strike you about Treasure is the amount of disk swapping and accessing that goes on. Just to load the options screen takes three or four swaps and heaven forbid if you want to do anything clever on this screen or even in the game.

If ever a game was designed to wear your disk drive out then this is it. It takes forever to set up a party and actually get into the game. I know that RPG fans are used to this but they shouldn't have to be. Nothing ever needs to be this unfriendly.

Everyone knows that SSI have a great reputation for producing some of the best role-players around. It's just such a pity that they haven't caught up with the times yet and realised that you can have good graphics in a role playing game. In the old days people didn't expect much in the way of aesthetics, but it's been proved that it can be done. Take a look at Dungeon Master and the Eye Of The Beholder games if you don't believe me. The graphic style used in Treasures is out of date and looks it. They are simplistic in the extreme and occupy such a small area of the screen.

Speed is another thing that lets the game down badly. As if all that disk swapping wasn't enough, just moving around the play area takes ages. After a while it seems that just about every move has to be loaded in separately and if you happen to come across some creatures you want to fight then be prepared for some major swapping hassles, both before and after the event. While we're on the subject of fighting, the combat is just about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it's a close contest. This D&D system has had its day, it's time for something new.

Even an RPG fan would be driven nut trying to get anywhere in this game - this takes slow to whole new extremes. Even with a couple of disk drives it takes a lifetime to make any real progress through the game, and if you only own a single drive, hah, forget it! Unlike most RPGs this one doesn't even support a hard drive. If you're going to have a big game you need to be able to install it on a hard drive, and why one isn't found here is completely beyond me.

How can I put this without upsetting old-fashioned RPG fans? Don't buy this. There are so many excellent role playing games out there that this one should be left to fade ground while the real things take centre stage. An outdated waste of time, and effort.