Isvar grows up to face bigger problems, in the 128K version of a Spectrum classic. No other game I know quite so convincingly creates a world within a microchip... and if you think that your usually flippant reviewer sounds serious it's because this really is an all time fave!
Isvar's back and 'is rambles round the environs of Castle Avars now 'ave a more musical note. One of the few failings in 48K, induced by a shortage of memory, has been corrected as a few tasteful tunes are added to his peregrinations.
Music is the most obvious addition to this expanded first episode of the epic. The plot remains identical though, so you wander round the wonderfully well-realised castle in your quest for the Book of Light, mislaid by some clumsy wizard, thusly (as they say in the sagas) sinking the land into everlasting gloom. Something akin to an English summer?
If you're hard pressed to find the mystic tome, and so save a mammoth library fine, the other additions are even more elusive. The Edge swears on a mystical runic sword that there are new monsters and at least one extra secret passage which could well get you out of a sticky situation, but I couldn't find them.
Sure there's a skeleton rattling around at the start, but he's only there to advertise Fairlight II, and I was never menaced by this skinny specimen once I'd entered the adventure proper. By way of recompense there's a grisly death mask when Isvar bytes the dust or whatever it is that microscopic heroes do.
But why grumble? This is still a classic and I for one will be playing the expanded version from now on. Then again, I got my copy for free, and I doubt even I would fork out again for all that hey-nonny-no nonsense, however hum-able.
As is so often the case my advice is, a) if you don't already own this or you've worn the original out, go for the revised version but option b) is for all the rest of you... save your pennies for Fairlight II which is being designed with the bigger Spectrum in mind.
Fairlight is a land of mystery and magic with a castle that holds as many secrets as Castle Rathbone. It's also the new game from The Edge - Simon Forman has come under its spell.
Things haven't been too rosy recently in the land of Fairlight - war, murder, plague, famine. You know the sort of thing! Well, now you've got the chance to do something about it. Imprisoned in the Castle Avars is the magician whose Book of Light can make the sun shine once more - and guess who the task of freeing him has fallen too? Got it in one, so you can stop sloping off. After all, you might miss out on the best arcade adventure of the year - maybe the game of the year!
Fairlight is a true adventure, not just one in name. There are eighty-odd locations, a mystery to solve and hidden objects to uncover and use. But it all takes place in stunning 3D graphics. Here are caves and courtyard, dungeons and drawbridges, towers and secret rooms - all pieces of a jigsaw that'll fit together to form a perfect castle.
You'll soon suss out that the magician you've got to rescue is holed up in one of the towers. It's getting up there that's the problem - your path's blocked by a monk-like ghoul who will not budge. So, it's off round the castle, exploring all the rooms, finding keys to the locked doors, collecting crowns and books and bags of gold. But you're not the only one wandering within the walls - beware the soldiers, trolls, magic bubbles and monks, all of them out to do you a mischief.
The atmosphere of the medieval castle is captured by the programmer, Bo Jangeborg using his Worldmaker Technique. This has added an extra dimension of realism to the game that you won't have come across before. You'll find that objects weigh differently just like in real life. When you move an object, leave and then return to a room, it doesn't reset but stays just where you put it. And best of all you can pick up all the objects you find and use them in any of the other rooms.
Different from the Ultimate megagames, huh? Alien 8 and Knight lore are more puzzle games - each room poses a problem that you've got to overcome. Fairlight is one big problem - but you'll have one helluva time trying to solve it!
In the mythical kingdom of Covent Garden, once people by a fair race, a band of strolling software magicians, known to story-tellers as Ye Edge, conjured up a corny sub-Tolkien plot to accompany a truly wonderful arcade adventure - Fairlight.
But once you're inside the dubious-sounding Castle Avars you soon forget about background details like the land of Fairlight slipping into chaos and darkness. The graphics are excellent, better in some ways than Ultimate's latest offering Nightshade. The Edge put it down to "The 3-D Worldmaker Technique".
Whatever you want to call it, the result is good, smooth animation in two colours.
As with all the best games the idea behind it is simple. You, Isvar, must escape from the castle by finding The Book of Light. There's also the standard hooded old man of mystery who presumably gets out when you do.
The idea may be simple but escaping isn't. Collecting the right items is the only way of mapping out the castle's 80-odd ogres. Finding the objects isn't too bad - the early ones at least. The problems start when you have to work out what to do with them.
The scroll is the sorcerer's equivalent of an ejector seat; when the going gets tough it'll plonk you down in the relative safety of the courtyard. The bag of gold is handy for bribing certain guards, while food, keys and magic potion should all be fairly self-explanatory.
To reach certain objects like the egg timer requires a lot of shoving and stacking of furniture. Addicts of Ultimate's Knight Lore and Alien 8 will really feel at home.
The booklet with the game suggests that you examine the cover, opening screen and text for clues. To me the cover showed a wizard loosely resembling Edge boss Tim Langdell reading a radioactive Your Computer binder. The opening screen did however give a few hints; it gives you an aerial view of part of the castle, for example.
Apart from its graphics and complexity, it's touches like Isvar's five pocket and the weight restrictions on what you can carry that make this such a good game. Should keep you happily gnashing your teeth for hours.
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