Lone Wolf - The Mirror of Death


by Mr. Micro Ltd: Gary Patchen, David Whittaker
Audiogenic Software Ltd
1991
Crash Issue 87, April 1991   (1991-03-21)   page(s) 44

Based on the solo RPG books by Joe Dever, Lone Wolf is the last Kai Master of Sommerlund and the sole survivor of the bloody massacre of his clan by the Darklords of Helgedad. He smashed the mirror known as Dhazag-Oud - The Mirror Of Death - and now stands inside the fortress of Khazan- Gor.

As the mirror shattered, seven unearthly creatures arose from the remains and fled to the fortress, each with a shard of the mirror. It's your task, as Lone Wolf, to explore the fortress and kill each creature, thus ending the evil power of Dhazag- Oud.

As a Master of Kai, you've studied four of the ancient Kai skills. Before play can begin, four skills must be chosen from Psi Surge, Mindshield, Animal Kinship, Invisibility, Sixth Sense, Divinity, Weapon Skills and Healing. It's up to you to find out which are the best skills to choose, but Sixth Sense is a must 'cos it's the only way to avoid dead ends and traps.

As you stomp your way through the many rooms that make up the fortress, you're attacked by many various forms of evil creature. Gargoyles spit missiles, krows swoop down and drain your energy, and evil mirror images of yourself attack without mercy. You can kick and punch your attackers, or with a press of the fire button, whip out your dirty great sword and hack a few limbs off.

Energy bars are the things to watch in battle. When an opponent's blow connects, your energy bar drops, and when you hit back, his drops. When your bar drops to zero, one of the wolf heads at the bottom of the status panel (there are four) turns to a skull. When all four skulls are shown, Lone Wolf dies. Thankfully, when an opponent's bar is diminished, he engages in bucket-kicking larks, too.

It's a long time since Audiogenic announced the imminent arrival of Lone Wolf, the computer game - about two years, in fact. According to Audiogenic, the game's been rewritten, but it looks and plays the same as the preview copy.

The main character is certainly big and well drawn, as are the rest at the sprites, but control response is a little on the sluggish side, annoying when trying to negotiate a particularly tricky trap. One curious feature is the ability to switch between colour and monochrome graphics modes. Useful if you're playing on a black and white telly.

Despite the long wait, Lone Wolf is a playable slash-'em-up that I highly enjoyed; it should appeal to arcade adventurers everywhere.

MARK ... 83%


'I really enjoyed playing Lone Wolf. It may look like just another beat-'em-up but it has a lot more in it than that. The variety of attackers keeps you on your toes and as the number of Kai skills you can carry is restricted to four of the available eight, each game can be different! It look me a while to get started: unless you know exactly what to do and when, you can get stuck on the early screens for hours. There are annoying elements to the game. The maniac birds that fly about make you drop to the floor at the slightest touch and you can't swipe at them when you're climbing a ladder. However. Lone Wolf is an excellent game, a mixture of beat-'em-up and strategy that'll keep you glued to your computer for ages. To add an extra special touch, you get a free solo roleplaying adventure book with the game (generous, eh?)!'
NICK ... 88%

Presentation: 85%
Graphics: 84%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 88%
Addictivity: 89%
Overall: 85%

Summary: A simple but entertaining game with good variety of action.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 65, May 1991   page(s) 58,59

Like a meal ordered in that little out-of-the-way restaurant your friends swear by, The Mirror Of Death has been a long time coming, and it was well worth the wait.

Based on the hit series of roleplaying gamebooks, it puts you in the soft leather and thankfully not-at-all smelly shoes of Lone Wolf - last of the Kai Masters, slayer of Gnaag, seeker of the Lorestones of Nyxator, welder of the Sommerswerd, bane of the Darklords, possessor of the handkerchief of the holder of the dagger of the wizard of the lands of the cavalier of the house of the descendants of the (slap!) ... thank you, I needed that - and bids you to exorcise the evil spirit of a nasty old sorceror by defeating 7 shadowy demons who inhabit the shards of the (sinister chords) Mirror Of Death.

Lummey.

You do this by hotfooting it up the sorceror's fortress, outwitting his guardians and confronting the demon on each level. Apart from your trusty sword you possess 4 Kai skills chosen from a selection of 8. These are (deep breath) the magics of Psi Surge (mental attack), Mindshield, Animal Kinship (terrify your enemies with an image of a wolf), Invisibility, Sixth Sense (avoid getting lost), Divinity (defect evil), Weapon Skills and Healing. It all requires the foresight of Nostradamus to make the appropriate 'mix', because the right skill at the right time may just save your life.

PHEW!

It's certainly not your average plotline, is it? And fortunately it translates into a 'not your average' game. The first thing you notice are the graphics. Just take a look at the screenshots! (No drooling, please.) Lonie is fabulously animated, from his 'bad-dude' stomp to his 'tactical withdrawal' roll, as well as having an amazing gravity-defying hooded cape which stays on no matter what (I thought it was his hair at first!). The supporting characters are equally stunning, from the leering, spitting gargoyles to the pesky, Krows. Background details abound, like the splintered stonework, the flickering torches, and the heavy gears that power deadly traps. The atmosphere of a dank, dangerous castle couldn't be more complete if your television set dripped slime.

The next boggle-trigger (Eh? Ed) is the sound (128K only, I'm afraid.) There's a praiseworthy music track, but the sound effects...! (Shiver.) They're that good! Everything makes a noise - the cawing Krows, the chains, Lonie's echoing footsteps (changing as he climbs a ladder) - I spent one game just seeing how many sounds I could discover. (Quite a lot, actually.) And last but not least, there is of course - the game. A combination of platforms-'n'-ladders and Barbarian-style fighting, there's even a bit of Monty On The Run thrown in with the choice of Kai skills (you only get to find out which the vital ones are after you've just been killed for not carrying them). It's all rather simple at first (dodge the gobbing gargoyles and the dribbly door-knockers), but things soon liven up as the first demon leaps down, and you realise that unlike most fighting games, the Speccy in Lone Wolf is rather a tough opponent. Keep doing the same move and the demon will just block you. Dither and he'll jump behind you and hack at you from there. Fight too well and he'll turn invisible! It's a nighty!

Between demons, the major foes are the Krows, who have a predeliction for swooping at you when you're on a ladder and you can't defend yourself. Oh, and remember, when using the marvellous mechanical lifts, keep an eye out for booby traps - usually involving lots of spikes. By the way, you're probably taking the wrong route. (And so on.)

GRUMP!

So far as reservations go I've only got as far as the second demon (ahem) but it looks like each level is just more of the same, and at times it can all get quite frustrating. For example, there's one screen where, right at the beginning, you have to wait on a ladder for a Krow to go by. The trouble is, it flies so fast, that there's only one flying pattern that'll give you enough time to get to the top, and as they appear pretty randomly, you could be in for a short wait. (Short, because most of the flying patterns involve them diving straight at you!)

But I'm just nit-picking. If it's more of the same, there's plenty to do already, and the will-they-be-useful-or-not factor of the Kai skills jollies the game up enormously. With the wonderful presentation matched by the imaginative packaging (there's a free copy of the latest Lonie gamebook - and a darned spanky roleplayer it is too), Mirror has something - no, a heck of a lot for everyone. It's a YS 7 Raves game - Spanky, Spiffy, Skillo, Dandy, Snazzy, Wazzy and Corky!


Life Expectancy: 85%
Instant Appeal: 97%
Graphics: 95%
Addictiveness: 90%
Overall: 92%

Summary: A treat for the eyes, a joy to the ears and a blinking great (but tough) arcade adventure to boot.

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 89, August 1989   page(s) 26,27

I used to be quite a fan of Lone Wolf, you know. Back in the days when D&D was law and the written works of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone were taken as gospel. And then the first Lone Wolf computer game appeared, complete with a keyboard overlay for a rubber keyed Spectrum. It wasn't any good, though. What you got for your £5.99 was the same as what you got for your £1.99, except you didn't have to turn the pages.

The world has been crying out for one, (everso slight untruth) and it has appeared. A Lone Wolf game that not only successfully captures the spirit of the book, but also turns out to be quite a good game. Why else would we put it on our cover?

You are the Lone Wolf, last of the Kai Lords. The Kai Lords were a bit like Jedi Knights only they didn't carry Lightsabres and they didn't walk in mysterious ways saying things like, 'You don't need to see his identification' and 'Even though you have cut off my arm, destroyed the only family I ever knew and are now having some rather disgusting thoughts about my twin sister, I know there is good in you father'. The Kai were wiped out by the evil Zoltan (or something like that) and you have to avenge their deaths.

Your means of revenge? To climb to the top of a tower of evil and destroy the ruler of thine enemy. The journey is a long one, through a tower so evil and twisted, it's shaped like an upside town triangle. You begin at the apex, which funnily enough happens to be at the bottom, and work your way up, via ladders and lifts, only pausing when making a decision at a junction.

Adversaries come in the form of warriors who are mirror images of yourself (reasons being too long to explain here, why not read the book?) and bats. The bats are easily dispatched with just a swift twitch of your blade. The warriors are a little more stubborn. As you progress through the game, they get better and better at combat, near the end some are downright impossible. Or are they? Each has their own personality and requires a different strategy to dispose of.

Other problems caused are the traps and puzzles. Traps take the form of statues that spit fire across ladders just as you are climbing, and open electric circuits, that blaze sparks as you walk past. Puzzles are usually formed by the lifts that constantly move up and down. Sometimes a series of three, maybe more have to be navigated by some well timed jumps, which aren't easy to come by. I have to tell you. It takes a great deal of patience just to wait for the right moment.

Graphically, the game reminds me of nothing more than Psygnosis' Barbarian right down to the flip scrolling. The only real difference between the two being that the backdrops on LW are much more attractive and atmospheric. All the little touches are there, from the busty statuettes to the skulls on poles.

Sound is just a little on the basic side, but with a game this size, I can't say that surprises me. Spot FX do their purpose, though I was a little disappointed by the lack of a tune.

Yet another enjoyable arcade adventure romp through the land of make believe. Fun, and it's size almost guarantees lengthy periods of play. Now, where did I put my ton-fun?

Label: ASL
Author: In-house
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon


Graphics: 81%
Sound: 69%
Playability: 82%
Lastability: 85%
Overall: 81%

Summary: Fabbo samurai arcade adventurey thingey. It's Oh Kai!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 112, June 1991   page(s) 16,17

Mystic adventure role playing games may not grab everyone by the short and curlies, indeed many players will draw a definite line of preference between RPG's and all action shoot 'em ups or beat 'em ups. However, methinks Lone Wolf: The Mirror Of Death, might just satisfy both factions of computer gamer.

Don't get me wrong though, this is definitely a grab your sword and smash some skuHs type of game. Its advantages lying in the fact that, unlike other platform beat 'em ups. there are no opportunities to pick up weapons or life icons during the game, instead you must choose four special Kai skills out of a total of eight before the quest begins and believe me, Wolfie will be in it deep and smelly if you don't choose the right combination. The sound, which includes spooky wind, the clanging of crossed swords, the vile screeching of Krows, (fiendish birds of prey), and the dull thud of a thump in the gnashers, also adds tremendous atmosphere. This combined with good graphics makes it very easy to get involved with what our hero is doing.

Lone Wolf is definitely the main man, (Andrea reckons he's a hunk); as strong as Arnie with as many moves as Vanilla Ice. He is the "last of the Kai masters of Sommerland", a mystic warrior, who must carry out a mission against an ancient enemy, the evil sorcerer, Gozrazh (Garth??), who has hidden one of the seven lorestones of Nyxator, in the tower of Kozan-Gor. As the last Kai warrior you have pledged to regain possession of these stones. The tower is guarded by a Mirror Of Death which was shattered into seven shards. Each of these sharas, now fashioned as swords, are wielded by unearthly creatures who protect the tower by taking on the form of an intruder's dark side, meaning ol' Lone Wolf ends up fighting evil shadows of himself.

The level of control provided for your character is quite impressive, with eight detailed attacking and defensive manoeuvres that all need practice. A good joystick is very useful here but it's still manageable with an average joystick or the keyboard.

The game play is deceptively easy at first so beware of your opponents on later levels, remember they are mirrors of yourself so they have the same Kai skills available, and can freeze you with a psi surge or become invisible during combat. For this reason your initial choice of Kai skills should change as you become a slashing highlander type swordsman, replacing offensive skills with defensive skills, to counteract those your opponents are using.

There are seven guardians to defeat, loads of disgustin' gargoyle spit to avoid, hundreds of krows trying to peck your bonce, and a variety of death wheels and other devices to avoid, so go to it laddie, and remember, the ancient ones are watching!

Label: Audiogenic
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £10.99 Tape, £14.99 Disk
Reviewer: Alan Dykes


Garth Sez: 'It's almost embarrassing these days to give Audiogenic yet another award for a piece of software. But maybe the embarrassment should lie with the big software houses for falling to put any real work into their Spectrum games.

Andrea Sez: 'This might not be my normal sit-down-and-shoot the buggers to bits type of game - the control system takes some time to master - but once familiarised, there are a wealth of movements that can be made.

Graphics: 94%
Sound: 93%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 89%
Overall: 90%

Summary: Super platform adventure game that gives lots of enjoyment and lastability that comes from developing skill, judgement and plain old kicking ass.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB