In the past I've always viewed the news of a recent
release from Thom EMI with mixed feelings, let's face it, they are
hardly in the Synapse class. Since switching over to market their
software under the 'Creative Sparks' banner however, they have
improved no end. Two of their previous efforts - JAVA JIM and SPECIAL
DELIVERY were both original and highly entertaining games, and now,
with the release of DESMOND'S DUNGEON, they have come up with a game
which proves that the programmers at Creative Sparks are trying to
compete with the best.
The game scenario is as follows: Desmond has accidentally stumbled
across a seemingly abandoned dungeon filled with gold. All he has to
do is round up the gold and make his escape. As you would expect, his
task is not quite so easy as it first appears. The gold is scattered
about over several levels of the dungeon and Desmond must gain access
to all these levels with the aid of a series of ladders - a customary
item in this type of game. To make things a little more difficult, Desmond can only carry one bag of gold at a time and he must
deposit each individual bag in the 'treasure chest' at the top of the
screen before heading off in search of another one.
Huge spiders patrol the dungeon levels. Desmond must avoid them by
jumping over them or by dodging up and down the ladders whenever the
spiders are approaching. If he comes into contact with a spider he
will be momentarily stunned and it will also cost him some power. He
begins the game with three lives and a full quota of power. Each time
his power is reduced to zero he loses a life and you then have to
tackle that particular screen all over again.
Predictably, the spiders are not Desmond's only worry. The evil old
Baron who owns the dungeon is not about to give up the gold without a
fight, and he flies across the top of the screen in his plane,
bombarding Desmond with an assortment of missiles. Each direct hit
will cost Desmond some of that precious power, but avoiding all the
various objects is more difficult than you can imagine. The Baron's
missiles are very unpredictable and have a nasty habit of taking an
unexpected 'bounce' in Desmond's direction.
If Desmond manages to get through the dungeon screen unscathed you
then advance onto the vault screen. Here, Desmond must transfer his
gold into the vault with the aid of a mechanical grab at the top of the screen. Once again, the Baron and the spiders will make
things as difficult for him as possible. If you complete this screen
you then progress to the next level of play, where the whole process
begins again. In the higher levels of play, Desmond must avoid fires
and collect keys to recover bags of gold which are out of reach behind
locked doors. All in all there is plenty to keep even the most
dedicated gamester occupied for hours.
DESMOND'S DUNGEON is a classy piece of software from start to finish,
right down to the colourful title screen which kicks off the program.
Graphics, sound and colour are of the highest quality and the
animation, particularly of Desmond himself, is quite excellent. A
further interesting feature is that you can start the game from any
level providing you have attained that level in a previous game. No
more having to start from level 1 all the time!
DESMOND'S DUNGEON is the best 16K program I've seen in a long, long
time. THORN-EMI (Creative Sparks) deserve a great deal of credit for
supporting the Atari faithfully over the years. Atari owners should
repay that loyalty by purchasing this game. At £8.95 (cassette) it's
an absolute steal, especially for those people who still haven't had
their computers upgraded yet.