Robin of the Wood

by Andy Walker, Paul Salmon, Steve Wetherill, Gerry Fisher
Odin Computer Graphics Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 50, May 1986   page(s) 57

Publisher: Odin
Programmers: Odin
Price: £9.95
Memory: 128K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor

The Nottingham Liberation Movement - incorporating Friends of Sherwood - requires your help. Guerrilla leader Robin Hood has to recover the Saxons' arrows from the oppressive tyrant of Nottingham in order to galvanise his woodland pickets into winning the Saxon revolution.

Or, to put it another way, run round the maze, find the silver, arrows, flowers, gold bags and whatnot, get into the castle, win the archery contest and bop off as many nasty Normans as you can, or it's boiling oil for you and a fate worse than death for the delectable Marian.

Odin's attempt to recreate Sherwood forest is a sprawling maze game of the Sabre Wulf variety. The graphics are pretty and rather fuzzy round the edges, picturing trees and undergrowth, bushes, and the occasional mysterious gate or crumbling wall close to the Sheriff of Nottingham's castle.

The forest is peopled by a number of characters. The ever present Norman patrols will shoot if they see you, but creep up behind them and they'll fall down like ninepins if you crack them over their silly helmets with ye olde quarterstaffe.

Then there are the rats. At least, I say they are rats. The estimable and learned John Stanley Gilbert claims these red creatures are in fact wild boars. It doesn't alter the fact that they look like rats. They have a nasty bite, anyway, and you can't kill them with ye olde knobbly stick, so avoid them.

Witches are a menace. They materialise in the shape of a willowy vision of human loveliness, to which Robin promptly responds with a dynamic groan as of one kicked in the groin. If you are carrying flowers they will take them; if you have no flowers they'll take your money instead, which is a pity as you need the money to give to the poor.

Actually, you don't give it to the poor at all. Instead, you give it to the old Ent who seems to have strayed a long way from Tolkien. He will distribute it to the poor on your behalf and provide you with a special charmed arrow in return for three bags of gold. You need three arrows to enter the Sheriffs archery contest. This is what the Ent says, but I reckon he's keeping all the dough himself and saving up to buy a part in Lord of the Rings game two.

He also has your bow and sword, weapons which make fighting the Normans easier. In fact he's a regular businessent, and much of the time is spent going to and fro between him and the loot in order to get equipped.

Sound on the 48K version is as pathetic as you might expect, whereas the 128K game comes complete with sub-Clannad music and speech effects such as "Give me a chance", when Robin is about to lose another life. The fact that I can decipher Robin's comments is a compliment to Odin's ability with 128K sound effects.

I didn't get as far as the tournament - it's a big game and a lot of time spent on mapping would be a decided asset. I was impressed though, by the way the Sheriff arrested me and flung me in prison just as I was about to pull the plug in boredom. Robin then gets to run around a maze in the castle for a bit looking for the key and the way out.

A hermit will give you extra lives if you can find him, and no doubt there are a few extra bits hidden here and there along the way. If you are new to Sinclair computers you could do worse than buy Robin of the Wood, it has good graphics and a complicated and absorbing theme, but is not too difficult to play. Older hands will probably find it a little simple and rather too like Sabre Wulf and similar maze games of over a year ago.

I think it's all pretty silly myself, but I'm prepared to give both 48K and 128K versions the benefit of the doubt and a four star rating all the same. Certainly there's plenty of fun to be got out of it.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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