32k Cassette £6.95
Level 9 seem to
have learnt how to cram an incredible amount into 32K. Red Moon has
more than adequate descriptions of over 200 locations, scattered
with over 50 items, and inhabited by no less than 19 different
beings with whom you can interact.
Its vocabulary is
adequate, its ability to understand English not much more than 'VERB
NOUN' but once you accept that (and, unfortunately, with few
exceptions, that is true for most adventures today), then it is an
excellent adventure. Level 9 have enhanced the usual text adventure
concept by adding lots of Dungeons and Dragons elements. You start
with 50 Hit Points. You lose Hit Points when you are wounded, and it
also costs you Hit Points to cast spells. One nice touch is that
SAVE is treated as a spell and costs you 1 HP each time you do it!
Magic is an
important part of the game. There are ten spells documented in the
instructions, each of which requires you to use a certain artifact
as a focus. There are a further 12 magical items in the game, most
of which are extremely useful (one is actually described as being
'vaguely magical'!). Learning your way around the dungeon, and how
to use magic effectively, are important aspects of the game. There
are also plenty of problems to solve and then there are the fights!
attack you, some talk to you, some ignore you. Some of them are more
valuable to you alive than dead. Some of them can be killed or
avoided without a fight but if you do get into a fight then make
sure you are well armed and armoured. You can fight with weapons or
with spells, or indeed both. Likewise there are both physical and
magical ways to defend yourself. The dungeon is littered with
weapons, armour, a cloak, a ring, etc., some of them magical - one
item, for instance, will improve your Agility.
Beware though of
too much mayhem. In this game very few of your foes stay dead - they
will return to haunt you as ghosts and attack you at the most
inconvenient times! You can actually explore about 150 rooms without
a fight (although not without a couple of killings!), but just one
fight can open over another 40 rooms to you.
is excellent in that you get colourful graphics which whilst only
simple line drawings of the rooms are very pleasant and are drawn
VERY quickly at the same time as the text is being output to the
screen, and AT THE SAME TIME as it reads your keystrokes. You can if
you wish, turn off the pictures. There is a large keyboard buffer so
that you can key your commands ahead as fast as you like without
waiting for each response, but beware if you have killed too many
denizens for their ghosts will get you while you are keying! The
people at Level 9 obviously know how to use the inside of the Atari.
Your objective in
the game is to rescue the stolen Red Moon Crystal but don't assume
that once you have found it you can wave your magic dulcimer and
escape to the surface. Once you pick it up it's guardians appear,
and they make everything you fought before pale into insignificance.
However, since you are allowed to have three lives, you can die
gracefully, be reincarnated and fulfil your quest without finding
out how to win that final battle. You will however only achieve 1000
points if you rescue the crystal without dying, get all 9 treasures,
complete one other minor quest which you must discover for yourself,
AND do all this without SAVEing. In order to stop you restoring each
fight until you have a lucky win, you lose 1 scoring point every
time you SAVE. If you do all that you will definitely have got your
money's worth, but there is one final challenge - it is possible to
get 1000 points AND end the game with 50 Hit Points - can YOU do it?