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 chaos. 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.
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.
To start a fight you need weapons and Speris land is happy to provide you with them at 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.
Speris land 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 playing 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 more puzzly things to do, allied to more guidance in solving what puzzles there are it would have held my attention much better.
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