Whoever said that adventures and strategy games are boriing? Not everybody is a brainless joystick junkie and Impressions have spent some length of time getting it all ready to unleash on a suspecting public. And although I've a fairly suspicious nature I think it's a great game.
Castle Master puts you in the leggings (or stockings if you're really pervey) of a prince or princess who must search the Castle to rescue your twin brother (or indeed spaccy old sister). There are no specific locations and you move freely around the landscape, at either a walk, run or even a crawl depending on your stamina. You begin outside the castle and must gain entrance by getting the drawbridge lowered. It a a little tricky to get it open but it's better than throwing bricks at a blank wall. Also there are cryptic hints littered around that may help you in your quest.
Movement is by joystick and keyboard or just keyboard (for those of you who want to build up your finger muscles) and you move forward and backward with left and right spinning the view around. There is a small sight in the centre of the screen which shows where (or what) you're heading towards.
If you like your adventures short on use of the keyboard then Castle Master is as easy as most with only the A key used for actions like eating, drinking, opening, collecting and so on and R, W and C used for Run, Walk and Crawl. The space bar toggles the pointer mode on and off and is used when throwing rocks via the fire button or actioning something.
The keyboard controls also allow you to change the angle of your perspective. "Coo, that's just what I've always wanted a new perspective" and that's just what the P and L keys do, P looking up (useful when there are girls walking upstairs) and L drops your head down (useful when you're caught looking up girls skirts).
The graphics are just a little on the slow side, no doubt the product of having to move the screen with each player movement, but then if you want a fast arcade game then Castle Master isn't for you. You need brains and reasonable reactions - the brains to work out the various puzzles that are contained in the game and reactions when you enter a room occupied by a spook. The screen will flash and your stamina will begin to drop. You must find the spook, hit the space bar and then move the crosshair sight onto it an press fire to despatch the spectre with a few well-aimed rocks.
There is a definite movement in software to include a little bit of adventure or strategy into arcade games at the moment with selectable weapons and/or shops as in Super Wonderboy. The flip side of this is adventure games that work graphically and Castle Master is one of this genre and a good example of such. The game has depth, action sequences and is littered with puzzles and should be enough to hardened adventurers going for some time. The only real criticisms would be that the screen update is slow and the graphics are sometimes not immediately clear but all the whingin' and whinin' in the world should not serve to deter the average Spectrum gameplayer from what is an excellent adventure.
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
Castle Master was and is one of the best 3D adventures to ever ooze out of a Spectrum. It's been released, re-released and re-re-released countless times in different guises, the last being a Domark compilation alongside some other classics. However on its own it stands out as a genuine triumph of coding against memory limitations.
Your task is to walk, run or even crawl, depending on the situation you find yourself in, around a medieval castle in search of your lost brother. The quest commences with you having to gain access to the fortress by figuring out a way to lower the drawbridge from outside. This is quickly solved and then it's heads down for the hard slog. The graphics are pretty spectacular, all things considered and the 3D aspect does give way to some great detail at times.
Whilst exploring the hundreds of locations and fiddling with the many puzzles and traps it's easy to get immersed in the world of Castle Master if it wasn't for a lack of speed when moving you could be glued to your task for hours without noticing how long you've been playing at all. Get bored with one perspective and you can even change the camera's angle to a more lively one.
The only quibble I'd have with the game is that its grainy visuals sometimes make it a little hard to see what's in a room and you can miss some clues unless your eyesight is A-one. Don't be put off though, if you're a bit fed up of run of the mill games and always thought of venturing into a graphical adventure, you can't get a better starting place than this. Not to everyone's taste, but definitely to mine.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Steve Keen
GARTH: Cor, some of them darkened rooms put the willys up me. As lifelike as you're imagination will allow. Now where'd I leave my robe and staff?
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