The conventional Brit view of Gallic games is about as narrow as the conventional Brit view of most things beyond our shores. French games are pretty, graphically 'nice', but when it comes to game play, well... Well what? Purple Saturn Day was superb graphically and gameplay wise, as was KULT, Captain Stood, and the Amiga version of Operation Wolf to name but three.
So when you hear that one of our best known companies - famed for their game play - and none other than Palace Software are linking up with Paris-based Delphine software to launch Castle Warrior you have the right to expect great things of such an entente cordiale.
The game opens in graphically superb style. You are the warrior Edred the Brave who, in a six level challenge, must win a potion from the evil Wizard Zandor, who has poisoned the king - only the potion will save him. Naturally, like all computer game wizards Zandor has demons and monsters aplenty in his employ and you will have to slay a goodly number of these to complete the task.
Edred progresses down the scrolling corridor with a loud clumping of feet. The nasties are clawing at him from the walls and edge slowly towards him from the depths of the seemingly endless corridor. Edred's sword is manipulated by a combination of pressing the joystick button down and moving the arm of the stick through its eight positions. When you successfully strike one of the flying bats or a claw they disappear in a puff of grey smoke.
Edred doesn't have to kill all of the nasties, though it's more fun if he does and wins him extra points. The gameplay here is slightly flawed in that Edred does not always recover quickly enough from swinging his sword to make another parry or swing. A bit frustrating this, as just when you think you're warmed up and gleefully trashing the flying bats, you die -quite unnecessarily and through no lack of skill on your part.
A couple of large, fireball-spitting nasties have to be taken out in level one if you are to proceed to the next level. This is achieved by swinging the sword at the fireballs and sending them back at the monster. Again, gameplay here could have been better. The sword needs to have a sort of cricket bat feel to it for this to work effectively, which it doesn't. It appears an arbitrary choice which fireballs are returned and which aren't - and in any event it only needs two to kill them, which seems far too easy.
There is a welcome change of weapon in level two. You are armed with a spear which you must lob at the the giant dragon who is guarding the entry to the level three (The Subterranean River). This is where the leaping left and right comes into its own. This section is well animated - Edred really looks as if he is leaping for his life. The Subterranean River is similar to the rapids level in Dragons Lair -though not quite as breath taking. Edred has a shield in this level to protect himself from the Stalactites, boulders, and serpents that rise up from the swirling water to snap at Edred's tiny canoe. This is a tough and enjoyable level - though most people would prefer to be armed with something a bit more deadty than a shield.
Level Four brings you close to the end of the challenge - and reveals shades of Space Harrier as the highly eclectic nature of this arcade challenge becomes apparent. Edred flies through the skies atop a flying dragon -shooting out fireballs at Zando's most feared beast - the giant dragon Jibba. If he bests this one he faces the final challenge with Zandor in the penultimate level. Dodge the spells cast by the evil Wizard as he sits on his floating throne and grab the potion. Now fly back in glory to cure the King's poison.
Sounds easy - but it will take quite a few sessions to beat this little number. Castle Warrior is a most coin-op-like concoction. It achieves high levels of graphics, animation, and sound but is aimed squarely at the gamer who wants to test his reflexes alone - leaving his intellect for other pursuits or slightly more cerebral software.
An old and simple game, where you have to run in 3D view mode and workaround many barriers and monsters.
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