The Lost Kingdom of Zkul & West


Issue 19

Jan/Feb 86

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an Adventure Twin Pack
from Talent Computer Systems


One of the temptations of the ST for existing Atari owners will be the availability of new software which will not become available on the 8-bit machines. A vast range of programs currently available for the QL and Macintosh will become available in the months ahead and one of the first conversions from the QL comes from Talent Computer Systems.

Of all the different types of entertainment software, the one form that is likely to be most successful on the ST is the adventure and already Infocom have their entire range available. For an existing Atari adventurer this will not be sufficient to make the commitment but the availability of two brand new adventures on one disk at almost half the price of lnfocom games must be tempting! The two adventures are in different styles with WEST as an introductory adventure featuring a great deal of 'real-time' action and The Lost Kingdom of Zkul as the 'classic' adventure based more on the dungeons and dragons style with fantasy, fighting, treasures and difficult puzzles and mazes.

WEST is set in 1885 with you on the track of a notorious gang of robbers. They have hidden the proceeds of a bank raid in town and you must recover this loot whilst outwitting - and outgunning - the robbers and seeking ways to escape from town. The adventure follows the familiar format with reasonably lengthy location descriptions and plenty of action. Locations are described in full when you first visit them but are described briefly when you next visit unless you LOOK around. One of the first things you will notice is the sudden appearance of mean looking robbers and other protagonists who will kill you if you do not act quickly enough. This does not mean thinking of the right thing to do but literally reacting quickly for the events continue as you think and you are likely to get killed before typing the next command. Unfortunately this aspect can become rather frustrating as it is quite easy to die just after being re-incarnated due to some random event. You have three lives and are re-incarnated each time at the starting location minus any items you were carrying which remain with your 'other body'. As you progress through the game a second time you see the results of all your earlier actions until you come to 'a familiar looking body'! Here you can pick up all items you previously had before proceeding further. Some events seem slightly illogical like your horse who acts like a homesick homing pigeon by wandering off and then always finding you a few moves later wherever you may be, but in general there are plenty of puzzles to solve in time honoured tradition. Talent say that this is the easier adventure but it should prove entertaining to all.

The Lost Kingdom of Zkul is much more in the classic vein with time to think and solve puzzles, traps for the unwary and over two hundred locations to explore. Set in another time and place you set forth to find the treasures hidden long ago by dwarves in the Doomed City. As usual many have failed before you with the guidance of your friend Eldomir you seek the Lost Kingdom and its treasures. Eldomir does not seem to be of much help as he sits in a hut in the forest acting as a base for you to return treasures to, so you are really on your own. As well as exploring you must look after your health by drinking and eating at the appropriate times and healing yourself following fights. You must find a way to communicate with the various dwarves that appear and magically disappear and avoid the usual perils of death. You have three lives which are given to you with increasing impatience by some 'benign being' before being condemned to re-boot the game. Points are scored for finding and returning treasures, visiting difficult locations and for finishing the game. Points are deducted for getting killed, saving the game or using bad language! To become a Grandmaster requires that you complete the game with one life and without saving!

I am unable to comment on complexity as compared with Infocom, as the review versions were specially scaled down demonstration copies but from the feel of the initials moves and encounters I am sure expert adventurers will not be disappointed. Novices will find this package very pleasing for it comes with a twenty page introduction which includes many helpful ideas for these and other adventures. Quite welcome this as many people buy adventures on recommendation from more expert players only to find themselves stuck from the start.

Common to both games is a novel game save feature which allows you to compose up to a screen of notes to jog your memory later on. Very useful if you have limited time to play or become involved in other adventures between sessions. Both games work on the monochrome or colour monitors using 80 columns on both and the only difference is a title picture which is loaded on the colour monitor but which has no effect on the games. It seems to be there simply as an excuse to use the colour!

Two adventures for 24.95 can't be bad when compared to some prices on the 8-bit systems and these represent one small reason for committing yourself to an ST!