Ravenskull (Superior) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing


Ravenskull
By Superior
Acorn Electron

 
Published in A&B Computing 4.02

It appears these days that whatever Superior touches turns to gold; how else can we explain the unbroken string of superb games for the Beeb (and Electron) winging their way from Leeds? To produce such a constant stream of Acorn software is commendable; to ensure it is all of the highest quality is near miraculous.

What is even more impressive is how often Superior is capable of fidning first time programmers with exceptional talent. Enter firsttimers, Martin Edmondson and Nicholas Chamberlain and their amazing arcade adventure Ravenskull.

Everything about this game is superb from the very atmospheric and detailed loading screen (take a bow Edmondson senior) to the game play. Described as a combination of Citadel and Repton, this is a large area scrolling game with 64 screens on each of four levels. The game involves searching a castle for parts of a treasure scattered by an obligatory baddy - each level only becomes available to you on completion of the earlier one.

Unusually, the game offers a perspective looking down on the hero moving through the castle, as opposed to the more usual side view, and this does involve the player much more in the game. The castle is filled with traps and puzzles to solve and whilst some of these are fairly simple, there are some real mindbenders lurking on each level.

You have a choice of four characters to control (Warrior, Adventurer, Wizard or Elf) and, although any of them can complete the game, the treasure to be found will change depending on which character you choose - a typically thoughtful element of the game.

Around the castle are blocked rooms (keys, pick-axes, etc are there to be found and used), pools of fatal acid and so on but most dangerous to the intrepid hero are the romaing Ravenbees who patrol the castle.

A status screen is provided which gives a current score and allows inspection and choice of the objects collected on the way through the castle. This screen also allows you to jump levels when you have completed screens.

But how does it play? Superby! The characters move smoothly (Mode 5) and the scrolling is impressively non-obtrusive. The graphic detail is excellent: the graphics are large and satisfyingly blocky and the puzzles and complexity of the game offer a lot of thought and excitement to any player.

I think this is superb - it's been a real struggle to have to put it on one side in order to look at any other game since I got a copy. Programmers Chamberlain and Edmondson have a great future ahead of them and this is a very, very impressive debut. If you're a fan of arcade adventures then this must be in your collection! To my mind, this is a model of a perfect game: friendly, intriguing and graphically excellent, demanding both arcade skills as well as thought and planning.

There is the obligatory Superior competition attached to this game but, to be honest, it doesn't need such a marketing ploy. All the game needs is a couple of minutes of your time. By then, you'll be as hooked as I am. A great game and what a treat at the end of a superb year for BBC games players!

A&B is so impressed with this game that I've made desperate attempts to enlist the support of the programmers on your behalf. In this month's Tips 'N Hints, they offer some thoughts on getting into the game and later on in 1987 they've promised a full solution, a cheat mode and a map! Talk about service...

Dave Reeder