Garrison has been touted around the public domain for goodness knows how long! With the tantalising taste of just one single screen, the Garrison demo disk was hot property; a must for any self-respecting Public Domain hack if ever I saw one!
With US Gold releasing Gauntlet for the Atari ST. everyone expected an Amiga version to follow suit, right?
Wrong, Gauntlet was never released for the Amiga, and, as far as I can make out, it will never be released for the Amiga, which is interesting when you consider the fact that US Gold are looking after this game, released by the German Rainbow Arts software house.
Not that the fact that Gauntlet's non appearance will worry anyone, Garrison is a very good clone and is, in many ways, a superior game with better sound effects and far better animation than was ever seen on the Atari ST and the original coin op.
The basic premise behind the game is the same as Gauntlet though. You are in search of a dark magician - the only guy who can come up with the potion to save a beautiful princess. Naturally you don't see any of this in the game as this is all given on the back of the game's package but it sets the scene for over 128 different screens of hack and slay, none of which ever become boring.
Play With A Friend
As a two player game Garrison is fast, responsive and very slick. The sound effects are fairly much like the coin op original and most of your opponents move and react in exactly the same way as the original version.
Garrison is graced with some of the finest loading and introduction music I have yet heard on the Amiga, sounding a little like a cross between Popol Vuh and Iron Maiden. The music is hard, heavy and very impressive.
The game naturally enough centers on five different characters; a Wizard, an Elf, a Valkyrie, a Warrior and a Dwarf. They all have their advantages of speed, firepower, agility and accuracy. However, whereas in Gauntlet you just select your character and play them until you die, you have the option to chop and change (pun intended) between levels of Garrison. This makes playing game time a little longer than most other games of this type.
The really disappointing thing about this game is that on an Amiga 500 and a 1000 with no memory expansion all you have is a single character design. If you have two players on the screen at one time, you may find it hard keeping an eye on which is your own character
For those of you fortunate enough to have a megabyte or more memory (and prices are always going down, think about it) you have the full version of the game which has all of the different characters available and you will look like the character that you are playing. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference mind you; the generic characters still throw axes, cast magic bolts or launch arrows depending on whom you select.
Helping Each Other
Playing the game requires co-operation and planning. It is not good enough to go into a load of nasties, firing away at anyone and everything that comes towards you. That's the way an amateur plays the game. No, work out what the monsters are (not difficult) and then find out if they can be killed easily, or if they need a little "remote bashing" by using a spell (the equivalent of a smart bomb).
The aim of the game isn't too clear all the screens - that is very difficult and probably nigh on impossible, but to explore the screens as best as you can stealing food and risk drinking the odd potion (yep some are poisonous) before running to the relative safety of an exit.
Exits allow you to move onto the next level or in some cases skip a few screens. Some characters fare better than others in some screens, and each level has a name. One nice(?) touch is the totally sadistic laugh at the end when you die!
And There's More
Onto Garrison II The Legend Continues. This is the equivalent to Gauntlet's The Deeper Dungeons and is basically 128 more screens of hack and slay for those of you who liked the first 128. Like Garrison, the game comes as two disks, the first disk being the "game", the second being the data disk. Both are compatible, so you can play with whatever version you like. Personally I preferred the second disk's dungeon layouts as they are generally more inventive, they require more solving and they have more things to do.
Both Garrison and Garrison II are full games in their own right, so if you can get hold of a copy of Garrison II but not of Garrison, then I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.
As both games are effectively imports. I am afraid they are not cheap. At around £25 for either game they aren't as cheap as many Amiga games, but they are still excellent value and offer some great gameplay not improved by the coin op version still going strong in some of the Arcades.
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