CELTIC QUEST OF CUCHULAINN
OTHER programmers will find it difficult competing with Tir Na Nog from Gargoyle. Until you have loaded up you may think that the booklet's boast of a 'computer movie' is pushing it a bit. Not so - this animated graphics adventure is bound to become a classic of Spectrum programming and portrays the travels and adventures of the hero Cuchulainn through the Celtic afterworld, Tir Na Nog.
Cuchulainn strides tall, clear and purposeful along the paths of his world. Fore-, middle- and backgrounds scroll independently behind him, giving a convincing likeness of real movement. The camera angle can be altered so that he can be seen from four viewpoints and the scenery changes accordingly. The clouds roll, smoke billows, birds flutter.
Other characters are shown in equal detail and live their own lives whilst Cuchulainn obeys you in his search for the fragments of the Seal of Calum.
Not that you have to pursue the quest. You may choose to wander the roads and explore the intricacies of the world or follow secondary objectives that may well need to be completed before the major aim can be accomplished. Other characters may lay tasks on you too and events may force you in a certain direction at times.
Beware of the Sidhe, those powerful, dangerous and magical beings who also use the pathways. Combat may occur if all else fails and Cuchulainn can thrust with any weapon he may have found. To progress and survive you will need persistence, lateral thinking and good luck - though of course you cannot be killed, merely returned to the beginning.
The game is not designed as a text adventure and uses the keyboard for movement and initiating various actions. Do not be misled by this into thinking that it is an arcade game - the program scope is vast and the world it depicts is alive and full of atmosphere. This is a full adventure and, with no single or simple solution, may keep you occupied for a long, long time. Highly original and stunningly presented.
Hold on to your space helmet (or broadsword) - Gargoyle's games are back, they're cheap, and they're still brilliant.
The Gargoyle animated arcade adventure trilogy - Tir Na Nog, Dun Darach and Marsport - first appeared in 1984/5. Two things left the reviewers dumbfounded; first, the unpronounceable Gaelic titles, second, the wonderful animation and depth of gameplay, which were so impressive that all three games won high praise and several awards.
Now the trilogy is re-released at budget price on the Rebound label, Hewson's new showcase of blasts from the past. Dash out and buy all three at once, or you must need a new brain.
Based loosely on the Gaelic myths of the hero Cuchulainn (that's pronounced Cahullan, folks), all three adventures, two of the past and one of the future, share a revolutionary use of giant sprite animation which has not been bettered to this day.
Programmers Greg Follis and Roy Carter based the frames of animation on sequential pictures of authentic walking; hence the realism of the animation. The main characters, Cuchulainn and Commander John Marsh, share a loping stride which is so watchable that just running the demo is more enjoyable than playing many of the latest games. Like the other games, Tir Na Nog has a scrolling graphics section in the middle third of the screen. The hero stays in the centre of the screen while the background scrolls past him.
Cuchulainn's aim is to reunite the fragments of the shattered Seal of Calum. Tir Na Nog - the Land of Youth - is inhabited by many hostile forces, principally the Sidhe. But since Cuchulainn is already dead, he cannot be killed, just dissipated by repeated attacks, at which point he returns to the gate of Tir Na Nog, loses all the objects he was carrying and has to start again. Likewise, none of Cuchalainn's enemies can be killed, only dissipated for a short time, so don't hang around after a fight!
Above the main display appears a compass and the clues which you will need to locate the fragments of the Seal. Below, inventories of the objects and weapons Cuchulainn has found. He can carry up to four objects, and can thrust with any one to use it as a weapon.
The world can be viewed from any of four directions by changing the, "camera angle" You can also move in any of these directions, following the paths, so mapping is essential. There are also many doorways to caves and tunnels, so you will need to find keys to use these shortcuts. As always, though, the hardest bit is not finding objects, but persuading their owners to give them up...
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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