Dun Darach


by Carter Follis Software Associates: Greg Follis, Roy Carter
Gargoyle Games
1985
Crash Issue 18, July 1985   (1985-06-27)   page(s) 16,17,18

The hero is back! We were first introduced to the 7-characters high Cuchulainn the great in Tir Nag Nog, now he returns in this epic game, Dun Darach. This time there is a very subtle difference between Cuchulainn as seen in Tir Na Nog and Cuchulainn in Dun Darach, he is alive! No he hasn't been reincarnated for reuniting the Seal Of Calum, this adventure is set in the early years before Tir Na Nog.

Following a bloody and pointless battle against the Conachta, In which the Amhair, a prince of the Conachta, had been killed, Cuchulainn the Great was returning home with his faithful charioteer, Loeg.

Towards the end of the second day they stopped at a wayside inn, leaving the chariot beside a strange horse drawn carriage. While they waited for food they were approached by Skar, a strikingly beautiful girl. She told them that she was the owner of the strange chariot and that she required assistance to mend a broken axle. Loeg, unsurprisingly, leapt to assist her and left the inn with Skar.

After a while Cuchulainn ventured outside, but to his astonishment there was no sign of either Loeg or Skar. Instead one of the proud horses that pulled the chariot lay slain. Of the Oak carriage, there was only a cloud of disappearing dust and on the wind a hint of ghostly girlish laughter.

Skar was, it seemed, a Sorceress and ally of the Connachtmen, and she had seized Loeg in retribution for the Princeling's death, and had taken him, body and soul, to the secret city of Dun Darach....

So the scene is set and you as Cuchulainn must seek out the whereabouts and rescue Loeg from Skar. On the way to achieving this you must complete several sub quests such as finding a particular gift for someone in return for another object which will prove useful in your quest.

The city of Dun Darach is split into several parts which all have their own characteristics, the pleasure area has gambling houses and the finance area has banks. Within each area the streets all have their own names and all the doors are numbered, which makes mapping and navigation easier. Doors can be entered by standing in front of them and pressing enter, the scene then cuts to the interior of the room. The reverse is true should you wish to exit a room.

The main difference between Tir Na Nog and Dun Darach is interaction. In Tir Na Nog you rarely needed to interact with the other characters, but interaction plays an important part in Dun Darach. There are two basic forms of interaction - trading with shopkeepers and brokers, and trying to prize bits of information out of the main characters.

Trading with shopkeepers is very simple. On entering a shop a message is displayed at the top of the screen which tells you what goods the shopkeeper sells or buys and at what price. If you are buying something then you pick up the object and offer the shopkeeper money. If you have enough money then the shopkeeper says 'thank you' and the goods are yours. If, on the other hand, you don't have enough money you can always try stealing the goods. This is done by picking up the object and walking out of the shop with it. Some of the more expensive goods, like the thieves' licence cannot be stolen and if you try to steal them the door locks until you have either paid for the goods or put them back.

Sometimes you are in the position where you have some goods which another shopkeeper wishes to purchase. Just offer the shopkeeper the goods and he will give you money in return. Of course instead of buying and selling at a profit you could always steal some goods and sell them to another shopkeeper for huge profit. Should Ryde, a sort of local bobby, catch you in possession of some stolen goods then all your money, unless you have banked some of it, and all the possessions you are carrying will be taken.

Communicating with the characters that roam the streets is slightly harder. First of all you must find out what each character wants, which sends you on a sub-quest to find the object. Once found you you can offer the object to a character who may give you something in return. While walking the streets you must beware of the local pick-pockets who will gladly take your money and many of your goods should you happen to bump into them, unless you are a member of the Thieves Guild of course. All together there are ten main characters to interact with and you must get to know each one's personal likes and dislikes.

As well as the shops and the brokers there are several other different types of room. There are the bankers, deposit rooms, portals, gambling houses, magic rooms and galleries. The is a good honest way of making money at a steady rate. The minimum deposit is 1000 iridi (the local currency) and the interest rate is 1% per day. The days are calculated by the torches that appear on the walls, night when they are on and day when off. This only applies when outside a building, inside the torches are permanently on. While your money is in the bank it is safe from all the other characters.

Deposit rooms are, as the name suggests, rooms where you can deposit goods, for a fee of course. You just enter the room and drop the object on the table and a fee is deducted as you leave.

In Tir Na Nog there were a set of rooms which would transport you to other parts of the land. The same principle has been implemented in Dun Darach except on most of the portals you have to pay a fee. This is a quick and easy way to travel about the city should you be in hurry.

Gambling houses are a quick and easy way of making money or losing it! On one of the walls is a set of two dice. These spin around and after a while stop to show two numbers. The game is played by placing a bet on either the A or B table. Each table has its own numbers and odds and if the sum of the dice adds up to a number on one of the tables you have either won or lost. This in itself provides an enjoyable alternative to all the walking about and trading.

Magic rooms tend to give you messages which are clues if you buy spells from there. Also scattered throughout the city are rooms which are called Hail- followed by another name. If you take a shield with the same name and place it on the table in the room then a picture in the room changes to another symbol which gives you a clue.

The galleries contain pictures of objects or just pictures of things connected with objects. If you have got one of the objects connected with a picture then drop it on the nearby table and a tick will appear on the picture. Here the Gargoyle sense of humour is best displayed, as it was in Tir Na Nog - remember the N and egg (the connection being N's lay eggs), this makes working out some of the clues very hard, but if all else fails you could always try trial and error. On completing a gallery you are given a new object or a clue about how to do something else.

The screen is a bit smaller than that used in Tir Na Nog but none of the detail has been lost, the upper and lower parts being used to display messages and objects carried etc. The same 'camera view' technique that was used in Tir Na Nog has been used in Dun Darach which means it is possible to get views of both sides of a street, this can also help you avoid other characters such as the pick-pockets. Cuchulainn is positioned in the centre of the screen and the streets scroll smoothly as he walks. The other main characters as represented by one basic male and female character. When a character besides Cuchulainn is on screen (except shopkeepers and brokers) then their name is displayed at the bottom of the screen and a coloured square follows them with their initial in it. This means characters can easily be identified especially when there are several on screen.

As you can see Dun Darach relies heavily on interaction with other characters and finance. Don't let this fool you into thinking that all the types of problems experienced in Tir Na Nog have vanished, you still have to work out various puzzles. Dun Darach should prove tricky to solve for a couple of months because the game is so complex. It comes supplied in a lavish box complete with a detailed booklet and a rough map of the city.

COMMENTS
Control keys: Left/Right alternate keys from Z to Symbol shift, change camera view A to L, enter a door ENTER, pick up/drop alternate keys on the third row Q to P, select object 2 3 7 8 9, offer object the four corner keys
Joystick: only programmable
Keyboard play: quite a few keys but easy to use and responsive
Use of colour: excellent, no attribute problems
Graphics: unbelievable animation and stunning backgrounds
Sound: limited spot effects
Skill levels: just the one, but you can't die, you can only be robbed and taken in by confidence tricks
Screens: scrolling streets plus over 100 rooms and doors


'Oh no! Please not again! I've only just completed Tir Na Nog and I thought I deserved a well earned rest. But alas I have been forced to roam the streets of Dun Darach and try to work out all the nasty problems that Greg Follis has thought up for us, which will no doubt mean more sleepless nights. I don't think I can stand it any longer! The graphics are as good as those in Tir Na Nog, if not better, and the animation leaves nothing to be desired. Fortunately there are no nasty horrible Sidhe to contend with just characters the same size as Cuchulainn which, fortunately, don't kill you. I didn't think it was really possible to improve on Tir Na Nog but somehow Gargoyle have pulled it off. Colour is used well with no attribute problems, even when characters walk across each other. Overall a superb game that should keep you glued to your TV sets throughout the summer (and autumn, winter and spring). Definitely a strong contender for game of the year!'

'Cuchulainn the Great is off on his travels again in this epic game from Gargoyle Games. I was amazed by the sheer quality of the graphics which are amongst the best I have ever seen! The animation is fantastic and now that there are more characters in the game it means it is one of the best looking games around. The game is a bit hard to get into but once you start getting somewhere you will love it. I found the game totally addictive and utterly playable. Overall a truly fantastic game that deserves to be a huge hit in fact I'm pretty sure it will be a hit!

'The long awaited sequel to Tir Na Nog has at last arrived it was certainly worth the wait. It must have been hard to surpass the graphics in Tir Na Nog, but Gargoyle have done it, just look at the other characters, the rats and the torches and you will see what I mean. Sound isn't up to much, just the odd spot effect but you tend to get so engrossed in the game itself that you don't care what the sound is like. As with Tir Na Nog there are no attribute problems which is surprising because there are more than one colour is being used on screen at a time. The adventure element is a bit tough to get into but you can always go gambling or just stealing goods and selling them at a huge profit, a bit risky but worth it. The save game facility is one of the best I have ever used and it is very quick and reliable. How Gargoyle packed so much into 48K I will never know, there is just so much going on that it is unbelievable. If you liked Tir Na Nog (or even if you didn't) you will love Dun Darach. Excellent value for money and a must for any respectable Spectrum owner. Terrific - just buy it!

Use of Computer: 85%
Graphics: 96%
Playability: 89%
Getting Started: 91%
Addictive Qualities: 97%
Value For Money: 94%
Overall: 97%

Summary: General rating: An excellent value for money game which has a lot of scope coupled with brilliant scenario and graphics. Truly a megagame.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 17, August 1985   page(s) 30,31

CELTIC RANGER

Begob and Begorrah. Prepare for a blast of the blarney from your man in Ireland, Chris Cockayne as he casts an emerald eye over Dun Darach, the new wan from Gargoyle Games.

From the coves of County Cork to the hills of Connemarra comes a strange tale that's shrouded in mist and mystery. Can it be true that Gargoyle Games has come up with a game that's identical to their previous hit, Tir Na Nog? Well, the hero, Cuchulainn the Great is the same, the graphics are the same but there are many more characters and the story has moved from the country to the town.

We start with our hero stalking the streets of Dun Darach seeking his faithful friend, Loeg, who's been abducted by the sorceress Skar and imprisoned somewhere in the town. While doing the rounds Cuchulainn comes across the inhabitants of the place, most of whom seem intent on ripping him off, visits innumerable shops and almost certainly ends up with a bad case of sore feet. Excluding your friend Loeg there are ten independent characters to meet but don't expect to find them all that easily. Some of them are out 'n' out thieves like Kara and her sister, Keli but others will do you a good turn if you find what they're looking for. When you meet Bren, for example, he'll offer you a map for a fur - if only I could find a fur! Similarly, the courtesan Pita is obviously open to bribery but whenever I offer her money, she takes it saying 'Oh, how generous' then turns tail and trots off. It certainly is pretty generous of me, so how about something in exchange? Now my big problem is with the names - I don' t know if they're Celtic originals but they sure as hell are difficult to remember. Every time someone approaches I have to go scuttling back to the booklet to see if he or she's a goody or a baddy. Why couldn't the hero have been given a good Irish name like Kevin? (Cor, what a crawler I am!).

You can bone up on the background history of Dun Darach with the aid of the introductory booklet. There you'll find an extract from Dinn Nemeton, 'an anonymous, ancient and secret writing which may not be published in full' - doubtless because it's so silly! But do read it, along with the rest of the intro as there are a few clues to be gleaned and you're gonna need all the help you can get.

The animation of the characters is once again excellent as they walk in a very realistic though somewhat round-shouldered way - but then you'd be pretty round-shouldered after all that pavement pounding. There are also some nice touches that you can't see in the pictures like the bouncing locks of hair and the flickering torches on the walls. The character set is also kept in line with the general Celtic theme and is doubtless copied direct from the Book of Kells. I can't make head or tail of that either and it certainly becomes tricky trying to make out the Celtic script on the Speccy. What is it this shopkeeper wants to sell me? A sting? A sling? Or is it a string?

The game can be played as a sort of medieval Minder. Buying goods at one price and flogging them off at a profit. And of course, a nice little earner is to knock stuff off ('fell off the back of a horse and cart, guvnor'), though you'll still have trouble holding on to the goods even without Sgt. Chisholm's presence. Only by building up a good deal of cash through stealing, selling, gambling or working (though don't ask me where yet), can you hope to get anywhere in the game. And if you take my advice it's an idea to duck into the nearest bank at the start and deposit your ready cash while you're finding your way around. The interest's not bad and you really can't trust anyone on the streets these days.

The game does lack a certain degree of excitement. There are no duels to the death and there are times when you long for the hero to break into a run - just this once. But no - plod, plod, plod. It's brain not brawn that's needed to conduct all the bartering, bribery and thieving necessary to complete the game. If you like Tir Na Nog and were left wanting more or you're prepared to put in a good few hours cracking this, then you could do worse than give it a go.


Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 41, August 1985   page(s) 92

RICHARD PRICE HAS FUN IN DUN DARACH AND ESCAPES FROM A SUNK SUBMARINE

ANYONE who has done some hitch-hiking or long distance travelling will know how it feels to arrive somewhere new and foreign - tired, broke, edgy and with nowhere to stay. It is always unsettling and frustrating not to know the local customs or how the natives will react to your outlandish behaviour and dress. It is ten times worse if you have no idea how you can raise some cash to survive a little bit longer.

If you have never experienced this first-hand you can still get a strong flavour of being on the road from Dun Darach - more a prequel than a sequel to Gargoyle's stunning Tir Na Nog.

DUN DARACH

Cuchulainn, Irish myth-hero, remains the central character in the new game. This time it is not the sidhe-ridden afterworld he strides through but a city of living men, more medieval than mystic with its winding, maze-like streets and busy, preoccupied citizens.

After a hard day's fighting against his traditional enemies, the men of Connacht, Cuchulainn and his charioteer Loeg stop at a wayside inn for the heroic equivalent of a long cool pint of JC.

As they wait for their drinks in comes a very beautiful woman, asking if one of them will help her with the broken axle of her carriage. Loeg is severely smitten and leaps to her assistance.

When Cuchulainn comes out to watch he finds that one of his chariot-horses has been slaughtered and his charioteer kidnapped. Further enquiries reveal that Loeg has been abducted by Skar, a good-looking but entirely evil sorceress whose base is the Secret City of Dun Darach.

Dun Darach uses the same outstanding graphic format as its predecessor and is effectively a controllable animated cartoon. Cuchulainn and the scene around him can be viewed from different angles and he can be moved left and right through the streets. He can enter houses, examine their interiors and collect objects. All actions are carried out by single key presses, with no text input.

The upper part of the screen shows the action with the remainder of the screen containing the compass indicator, list of possessions and the name of the quarter of the town you are moving through. Make no mistake, the city is large and bafflingly complex - although the streets are named, a map is essential.

You will find tradesmen of all kinds, private houses, temples, banks, gambling hells, police-like yeomen, pickpockets and honest citizens - though there don't seem to be too many of those. It is possible to get a job or make money by stealing yourself - that is difficult as the yoemen are vigilant and you will need to find an Arthur Daley figure to fence the goods before you get caught.

Gargoyle admits its debt to the works of fantasy writers like Fritz Lieber and Michael Moorcock. The company has created a city which is alive and fascinatingly complex and you will find it all too easy to neglect your true quest in favour of exploring and hustling.

The game is less abstract than Tir Na Nog - though there are plenty of enigmas to solve - and identification with Cuchulainn is easy as you wander the sleazy pleasure quarter of Iomain or the warrens of the Dispossessed.

I enjoyed every compulsive minute of Dun Darach. It is definitely not a rehash of a successful format, though it has the same technical excellence and careful programming. If anything it is a lot more interesting and eventful than the earlier game, with equally superb graphics. Get it as soon as you can and let me know quickly where I can sell a fat black pearl or stash some stolen gold bars. Absolutely recommended.

Dun Darach
Publisher: Gargoyle Games
Memory: 48K
Price: £9.95

*****


Overall: 5/5

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 73, April 1988   page(s) 92,93

Cuchulainn sets off for the mist-shrouded city of Dun Darach in search of his kidnapped charioteer Leog.

While Tir Na Nog takes place mostly outdoors, Dun Darach is set in the narrow streets of the city. It's divided into quarters, each one of which consists of several named districts. In this game, the other characters you meet are more intelligent, pursuing their own tasks. While you try to bribe them to give up the objects you need.

You'll need to earn currency in the form of Iridi, small gold sequins. This you can do either by working (yuk!), by gambling (more like it) or by stealing (aha)!

There aren't as many ghoulie monsters in Dun Darach. Instead, two basic characters, one male and one female, crop up over and over again. Each is accompanied by a symbol and an identifying name in the text window.

Label: Rebound
Author: Gargoyle
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins


Overall: 8/10

Summary: The exciting sequel to Tir Na Nog; not quite so complex, still good.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 46, August 1985   page(s) 28

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Gargoyle Games
PRICE: £9.95

"Following a fateful, bloody and largely pointless battle against the Conachta, Cuchulainn the Great was returning home to Muirmethne in company of his faithful charioteer, Loeg.

Towards the end of the second day the pair came across a wayside inn and went inside to claim lodging and sustenance, leaving their war chariot beside a strange horse drawn carriage.

While they waited for food, they were approached by Skar, a strikingly beautiful girl, who told them that she was the owner of the strange carriage but was desperately troubled for her conveyance had developed a shattered axle. With somewhat unseemly haste, Loeg leapt to assist her - and, together with Skar, left the inn.

Cuchulainn settled back to enjoy his food and drink. But after a while he went outside to find Loeg. Instead he found his horses slain and Loeg gone. Of the strange carriage there was only a cloud of dust disappearing along the Eastern road and the hint of ghostly girlish laughter carried back to his ears by the wind.

Rushing back into the inn Cuchulainn grabbed the terrified innkeeper and forced him to reveal the full story.

Skar was an ally of the Conachtmen Cuchulainn had so recently been fighting and Loeg had been taken in retribution for the death of the Princeling Amhair during that fateful battle. Loeg was being taken to the secret city of Dun Darach!

This is how the scene is set for the long awaited sequel to Tir Na Nog, the animated graphic adventure which caused such a stir among gamesters last year.

Gargoyle's Dun Darach is a worthy successor to their first, now classic, adventure. It breaks more new ground on the Spectrum with improved animation of the odd characters who inhabit the mist shrouded city of Dun Darach and a considerably enhanced plot.

The basic object of the game is to rescue Loeg from the clutches of the evil Skar. But there are several secondary quests to be dealt with before you can even think about saving Loeg.

There are 11 other characters, each with their very own personalities, who Cuchulainn will come across in his wanderings around the strange city.

Most of them seem determined to rip him off, stealing money and belongings from the unsuspecting stranger! But they will also help him - if he can find out what they want in return.

The city is divided up into seven different areas with different features. All have various shops containing items which Cuchulainn will need during his time there. He can buy, steal or barter for items he wants. But remember, crime doesn't always pay!

Control keys have been tidied up for Dun Darach. It's now much easier to get a quick response from your character in a tight spot. The screen display is similar to Tir Na Nog, except that the initials for the other characters that you meet in the city are displayed underneath the main graphics window.

You can still turn your "camera angle" through 180 degrees to get an all round view of your surroundings and switch direction. At the top of the screen is a useful compass which aids map making and your progress through the city.

Dun Darach is an entertaining game. It has real atmosphere - you really feel as if you are pounding the streets of a strange city. You have to learn how to make your way in this odd place, how to befriend the right people and above all, how to rescue your old mate Loeg. It's also a real step forward for the arcade animation adventure game.

The game comes nicely presented with an informative booklet and useful quick reference card for the characters. I can't wait to get back into the city!


Graphics: 9/10
Sound: n/a
Value: 10/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 34, August 1985   page(s) 14

PRICE: £9.95
GAME TYPE: Animated Adventure

Star program of the month has to be Dun Darach, the sequel to the excellent Tir na Nog.

Dun Darach employs the excellent animation employed in Tir na Nog, but takes it to new heights. Every road has a name, every door has a number, every shop has a sign. Cuchulainn, the hero, meets a variety of animated characters; male, female and rodent.

Each of the characters has its own attributes and personality. Kara and Keli, the pickpocket twins, will relieve you of any of your possessions, murmuring "Your pardon" as they brush past you. Bren offers help at a price. Ryde comes stomping up to you when you are carrying stolen goods, and takes not only the goods but also a hefty fine.

Dun Darach carries realism to new extremes. To move around the city you have to walk, unless you can afford the portal system. To prevent your money from being stolen you need to place it in the bank. A fast but risky way of making money is in the gambling dens.

Money can be made more painstakingly by buying and selling. Most shops will sell you goods, which can be sold at a profit, if you can find anyone who will take them; or offered to other characters who may have something you want. A faster way of making money is through the use of theft, although there are security devices in shops selling luxury goods.

The aim of the game is to save your friend Loeg, who has been imprisoned in Dun Darach by the sorceress Skar. This quest, though, should not be seen as a priority. First you need a map, money and information. Many weeks will pass before you know enough about the city and its inhabitants to think of rescuing your friend.

There is great attention paid to detail in Dun Darach. Torches at the roadside burn brightly in the evening, and are extinguished when it is morning. Cuchulainn is convincingly animated in every detail, and looks a perfect thug. No wonder none of the shopkeepers make a move to stop him as he stomps out of the shops with their goods!

Only two problems are apparent with the game. Firstly, so realistic are the distances that trips across the city tend to become boring, especially if you have neither money nor goods. Secondly, the script used is convincingly Gaelic, and annoyingly hard to read. It is often difficult to distinguish the name of an object you are carrying, or to work out what it is once you know its name.

Reservations aside, this is an excellent game, taking standards of realism on the Spectrum one step further.

Dun Darach is produced by Gargoyle Games, 71 King Street, Dudley, West Midlands.


Rating: 96%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue August 1985   page(s) 29

Spectrum
Gargoyle Games
Graphic Adventure
£9.95

Just when you think that it would be impossible to squeeze any more out of the Spectrum, along comes a game which makes you wonder where it will all end. Gargoyle Games produce graphic adventures. But that is only half the tale, because Gargoyle graphic adventures are one of the jewels in the crown of British software.

Unlike most computer adventures, which are Tolkienesque or Gothic, Dun Darach, like the earlier Tir Na Nog, is Celtic. From the unpronounceable names, to the unspeakable horrors, Dun Darach is poetically atmospheric. In our dreams we've all been to Dun Darach.

The graphics and action are exceptional. Especially wonderful is the movement of the characters. Like a number of other graphic adventures, this one uses the movie camera approach. That is you do not see out of the eyes of puppet in the computer world. Instead you view him through a camera. He can be made to walk, grab, drop, fight and offer objects to others through the keyboard - the same medium is used to control the direction which the camera is pointing in.

Cuchulainn is the name of the hero of the game. Tir Na Noggers will remember him, and his task is to free his pal, Loeg the charioteer, from the city of Dun Darach. He and the other inhabitants of the city look like rock musicians, with long flowing hair, bare arms and boots - the girls have longer hair and mini-skirts.

The city is realised wonderfully in this computer game, it is easy to get the impression that you are actually there. Taking the time to draw a map can be dangerous as the inhabitants are a bunch of thieves and pickpockets, but if you do you will be impressed by the size of it, and the attention to detail.

As graphic adventures go, Dun Darach is not easy. But it is highly original, superbly crafted and will give pleasure for hour after hour.


Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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