Reviewed by Paul Rixon


Issue 30

Nov/Dec 87

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Paul Rixon gets through a lot of games!


Cassette £9.95

Disk £14.95

1-2 players
1-2 joysticks








Gauntlet clones seem to be all the rage lately and DRUID is clearly Firebird's attempt to cash in on the trend. I'm not complaining though – this one's a real cracker! I'll briefly run through the plot first, and leave the superlatives until later.

Peace and well-being are in jeopardy throughout the lands of Belorn due to the likes of four demon Princes of Darkness, who have appeared through an inter-dimensional gateway in the dungeons of the evil Acamantor. As last of the Great Druids it's your duty to destroy the four skulls of the Princes which can only be found in the dingiest depths of the dungeons. Eight types of magical spell are at your disposal. Fire, water and electricity spells may be used in defence against the constant onslaught of hell-spawned 'dimension monsters' and other evil-weevils intent on your disappearance.


Several other spells are available for unlocking doors, for giving you limited powers of invisibility and for creating a 'Golum'. A Golum is a yeti type character who kills all adversaries on contact. He can be programmed to automatically wait, follow or lead you around the dungeons or a second player can intervene via a second joystick –clever stuff! A 'chaos' spell acts to eliminate the skulls once you've found them, and can also be used to escape from tight spots in the game. You only possess a limited number of powers to begin with, extra abilities may be obtained from chests, and here a degree of skill is required to select the most profitable item. Nicely animated 'pentagrams' replenish your energy reserves. Very useful these!

There are one or two further surprises awaiting you in the dungeons but I'll leave them for you to discover. At the end, a rating system labels you with one of sixteen titles ranging from 'Halfwit' to 'Lightmaster'. I'm not going to tell you what it called ME though! You'll have gathered by now that DRUID is not one of those simplistic 'thrown together in five minutes' jobs. A lot of thought and programming skill has obviously gone into the game.

DRUID excels in the graphics department. Bi-directional stairways give access to eight levels of dungeon, each offering a different blend of hi-res multicoloured scenery and ground features. Information relating to the number and nature of remaining spells is displayed in the top half of the screen together with an indication of your energy level. Scrolling is excellent, as it should be on the Atari, and although there isn't any music, sound effects are plentiful.

This is truly an enthralling product and one that Firebird should be proud of. It's more involved than Phantom and streets ahead of the awful Gauntlet. No price accompanied the review copy although I get the impression that it is not intended as a budget release. Even so it should definitely be at the top of every arcade gamer's shopping list.