Desmond's Dungeon

Reviewed by Jim Short



Issue 17

Sep/Oct 85

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Creative Sparks

16k cassette


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.