In an exciting departure from his previous games, programmer Steve Turner has turned his back temporarily on the evil Seiddab and plunged back in time to the Dark Ages, a period of black arts and magic, an age of unreason. CRASH takes a look at this new adventure which will appeal to arcade and adventure players alike. Come with us now and immerse yourself in Hewson Consultants’...

The Legend of Avalon

The purpose of this piece is not to review The Legend of Avalon, the new arcade/adventure style game from Hewson Consultants, but to PREview it. At the time of writing the game is almost complete.

Steve Turner is well known for his 3D games which from the Seiddab Trilogy, space arcade action games, but he has felt the need to write a game along different lines and the result of several months’ work is The Legend of Avalon. The game is an adventure played in an arcade manner. It is much more of a true adventure than, say, Atic Atac, in the sense that objects and their usefulness must be thoroughly investigated, gradually allowing the player a greater control over the playing environment. Some arcade skills are required to guide your character around the enormous maze-like complex of rooms and dungeons and avoid the evil spirits which will beset you during the game.

THE LEGEND OF AVALON

Beyond the shadows of the sun
Where countless alien realms are hung
The lord of earth reached out in dread
To claim his tribute from the dead
His horn sounds out his warning cry
The wild hunt thunders across the sky.

Mage and Lorelord combine their might
To crush the chaos of the night
With cunning craft they forge for war
The sword of power, Caliburn
The Amulet of Evermore,
The Wraithbane, rod of lore.
Upon a bier of burning gold
They set the cup of power untold.

Before the radiant host they fly
To chasms deep below the sky
Within the crystal Isle of Glass
The destiny of men must pass.
The earth is rent as powers collide,
Victors and vanquished sealed inside.
Warriors, Lorelords, all are gone —
Lost, entombed in Avalon.

THE SCENARIO

The year is 408 AD. The crumbling empire of Rome is giving way before the onslaught of barbarian nations. Most of the Roman legions have left Britain in support of Constantine III, their self-proclaimed emperor. The modern age of reason is over — the Dark Ages are settling in for a long night. Maroc the Mage is a lore seeker. He travels, gathering knowledge of the old ways, and is learned in the subtle arts of herbs and healing. One night while orating one of his collected rhymes, ‘The Legend of Avalon’, an old woman throws back her head and foretells a new age of chaos. The air chills as she speaks of the dreaded Lord of Chaos, once again leading the Wild Hunt across the night sky, stealing the corpses of the dead. She points to Maroc and tells him to go to the Isle of Glass. Taking him aside, she gives him an old oak staff with an iron head bound to one end, and two old maps. ‘There is Avalon!’ she cries as she laughingly leaves, pointing to a hill rising in the distance.

The fearful villagers guide Maroc to the island by way of a causeway. It is midnight. Maroc is abandoned in the darkness whilst his guides scurry away. He sits down and recalls the night’s events. He doesn’t have long to wait...

INSIDE AVALON

The game commences with Maroc, abandoned outside the dreaded castle and dungeon complex. A spell descends upon him and projects his astral preserve within the castle. It is as an astral projection that you play the part of Maroc. Because he is in any real sense insubstantial, Maroc cannot move or carry or do anything. There are, however, many spells to be discovered which will allow Maroc to do many things. The two most important are the Move and Servant spells and these are thoughtfully provided almost immediately. In fact the rod which the old woman gave to Maroc is the movement spell and it appears as collected in the spell scroll below the playing area. The servant spell is found in an adjacent room and the two allow Maroc to continue with his quest to destroy the Lord of Chaos.

The servant is a wraith-like sprite who can move about and collect objects for Maroc, including other spells. Only one spell may be used at a time and is selected or terminated by the fire button. For those who may be worried about their arcade skill, The Legend of Avalon is all joystick driven. Pressing fire selects the spell scroll and using the joystick the collected spells listed may be scrolled for selection. Pressing fire again activates the spell. If Maroc has selected the movement spell then the astral projection may move around, opening doors and collecting some things. If the servant spell is activated than Maroc remains stationary and the joystick controls the servant to do his bidding.

Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot

Objects with a useful value may be collected by the servant and placed in the sack Maroc carries on his back, but only four objects may be carried at once.

Avalon consists of some 220 locations on eight levels. These are the Gate House level which once contained barracks and guardrooms; Caverns of Doom; Mines of Despair, caves cut into an iron lode and once the source of material for the forges of the Lord of Chaos; Great Halls of the Deep, once the living quarters of the armies; Goblin Warren; Labyrinth — only wraiths occupy the lower levels; Catacombs of the Undead; and finally the place where the Lord of Chaos hides himself.

ACTING OUT THE LEGEND

The visual display, as the screen photos show, is in 3D, so positioning of Maroc or the servant is all important, especially when opening doors in a hurry. The various levels combine rooms with one or more doors, caverns and tunnels which are inhabited by spiders and bats. Contact with the tunnel walls will decrease Maroc’s psychic energy, denoted in the spell scroll as a dragon’s tongue of flame. There is a spell available to replenish it sparingly. During play there are various situations which decrease the level of psychic energy.

Throughout the complex there are minions of chaos that may be found lurking within the rooms and caves. Two types of goblin warrior, one with sword and another that fires arrows, a wraith with skeletal frame, the guardian of chaos, also warlocks and wizards. If Maroc encounters one of these creatures, they will move to attack his astral projection and after a short fight, drain it of energy. When this happens the old oak rod returns Maroc to the start location for another try. Here Steve Turner has introduced a novel approach to the adventure. Instead of starting a new life with the game reset, Maroc sets out with the situation in Avalon as he left it last time. In other words the player faces the situation complete with the effects of his previous existences there.

The Legend of Avalon presents a new departure for Steve Turner, but more than that it is a new departure in the Spectrum game, a real blend of adventure and arcade. Steve has already said that he might return to the alien Seiddab again, but using this type of game format, in which case we may yet get to see what the awful Seiddab actually look like inside their creeping, crawling and flying machines. I can’t wait!

All information is correct at time of going to press, but the game is still in completion stage and there may be changes made which alter some details contained in this article.


Early character sketch

A valuable insight to a programmer’s thinking: an early sketch showing the various monsters that inhabit Avalon.

SOME STATISTICS

There are 223 rooms on eight levels, 255 doors, 32 tunnels, 27 spells, around 100 people of types like goblins, wraiths and guardians, plus seven wizards and warlocks. Most will kill on sight except the warlocks, who are men in various stages of corruption and may help you if you give them something they like, or they may attack you. If you lose a life you start over but still have all the magic you have collected and people, doors, objects etc. will mostly be as you left them. The object is to penetrate to the 8th level and banish the Lord of Chaos from his earthly realm. You will need the four items of high magic to do this — read the legend carefully. The game has over 10K of object code, 12K of graphics and 10K of assorted data tables. The objects may affect the player, and some objects may be found inside other objects. Doors are opened by using the handle and moving back slightly to let the door open, but some may be invisible and some may be locked.

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