Sinclair User9th September 1988
Published in Sinclair User #81
He might be Artura to Gremlin, but to you, me and the milkman, he'll always be King Arthur. Likewise, you might have difficulty in recognising characters like Merdyn and Morgause, and places like Camelod - try Merlin, Morgana and Camelot and you might be on firmer ground. Yes, this is just another of those fifth-century sword-and-sorcery arcade adventures which have been thick on the ground since Tir Na Nog, plundering Celtic mythology for a bit of historical background. The plot, though, sounds as if it's even older than fifth-century; rescue the captured sorceress Nimue by travelling through the mystic kingdom of Albinn using the Wheel of Cerriddwen, fighting off the servants of Morgause and seeking out the Rune Stones to restore your magical powers... ho hum.
It doesn't look altogether bad; all the characters are costumed in a suitably barbaric way, and the backgrounds include details such as stone columns, piles of severed heads (so untidy, those ancient Britons), bushes, skeletons, causeways, stone walls and pitfalls.
The baddies include top-knotted warriors who stride about quite convincingly, while Artura himself can walk, jump and duck, all the time flinging an endless series of battleaxes at the warriors, ravens, rats and other baddies. He tends to disappear into the background every time he walks in front of anything yellow, which is a pity since most of the walls are yellow.So, you mosey along, snuffing the baddies and looking out for runes. These are found lying around (as priceless mystic runes always seem to be in this sort of game), and on picking them up, they appear in your inventory box. This is just below the obligatory energy bar which displays your falling vigour.
On reaching a doorway you can move forwards or backwards into it, to flip to another screen. Mapping doesn't seem too complicated, but you have to find all the runes on one level before you can use the Wheel to teleport to the next. Since some of the runes lie behind forests of spikes, or, in one case at least, a pitfall into what seems like an inescapable rat-infested dungeon (a bit like EMAP towers.) However, if you face doom, all is not necessarily lost. The runes you collect on your travels are all in halves, and if you can combine two halves of the same colour, you get - what? Yes, a whole rune. To do this you press R to go into "rune mode", which allows you to shuffle the halves around using a pointer. The different runes have different magical powers, some of which may help you out of a sticky spot. Or not.
The music's OK, the spot effects are OK, and there are some clever graphical touches such as the way you turn into a bird and flap away when you get snuffed. Unfortunately, nothing in Artura hasn't been done better before - notably in Gargoyle's series Dun Darach, Tir Na a Nog, and the sci-fi followup Marsport. Not a compulsory purchase.
Label: Gremlin Graphics Author: In-house Price: £7.95 Memory: 48K/128K Joystick: various Reviewer: ?
Run-of-the-mill historical arcade adventure.