Amstrad Action1st August 1987
Published in Amstrad Action #23
There's not much left to be said about the brilliant series of games starring Magic Knight. He first came to light in Finders Keepers but really achieved stardom in Spellbound and Knight Tyme with the introduction of the "Windimation" system of window menus. The last in the series once more uses the same system to good effect.
Having clanked around in the 25th century in Knight Tyme, Magic Knight has travelled back to his own time. However, on the way he's been split into two, leaving you as the good Magic Knight and the Off-White Knight, your dark side. Your task is to merge the two halves of MK to prevent the Off-White Knight, nicknamed "Stormbringer", from wreaking havoc in the land.
If you've already played the previous games in the series you'll be right at home with this one. It features the same interaction between characters, Windimation and weird humour. However, don't expect that to make it any easier because the puzzles David Jones has concocted are more devious than ever. [See David Jones interview in AA 19 - Ed]
If you're unfamiliar with Windimation, here's how it works. The Fire button is used to call up a window menu from which all the other menus can be accessed. This main menu contains five standard commands: pick up an object, drop an object, take object (from character), give object and examine. It can also feature a number of additional commands depending on what objects you are carrying. These allow you to cast spells, read objects, command characters, wear things, smell, drink and throw things.
Most of these main commands will produce sub-menus that contain either information or a further list of choices. For instance, if you want to examine something you have to decide whether it's an object, character or yourself, which object or character, and finally see the information relating to your choice. All this information flicks up on a new window and is superbly presented.
There are other characters in the game who move around independently of you. You can give them objects or take them, depending on whether the character is co-operative. You've also got to look after their welfare and can request help from them if you think there's a task they can perform which you can't.
Watch out for Grunter the Bearwoolf, who's an enormous, mean-looking monster and can end the game with one swipe. Another deadly problem is a cloud that floats around, produced by the Stormbringer: it will zap you with lightning if you stand around too long.
There are no significant improvements in this latest Magic Knight adventure, but then, quite frankly, it didn't need any. Fans of his previous games will be deliriously happy with the new puzzles, characters and humour, while newcomers to the series will probably rush out and buy the previous games as well.
The graphics and animation are once again adequate and a pleasant in-game tune is provided. As ever you don't just get a tune, though, you have to pick up and wear a personal stereo in order to hear it - cute, huh? I'm still full of admiration for this series of arcade adventures and it's fitting that they should exit on this high note.
The final Magic Knight game is not a letdown: the graphics are still highly detailed (though still lack colour), the innovative window system remains, but the task is much harder. Guaranteed satisfaction for months.
Green Screen View
First Day Target Score
P. Some detailed backgrounds and characters.
N. Generally poor use of colour.
Cute tune from personal stereo.
Grab Factor 86%
P. Still got a great sense of humour
P. Windimation is as enjoyable as ever
Staying Power 89%
P. Just as tough as, if not tougher than, predecessors.
N. The puzzles are superbly worked out.
Hard to believe this is a budget game - brilliant.