Computer Gamer

Willow Pattern

Publisher: Firebird
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Computer Gamer #24

Willow Pattern

Although based on an old Chinese legend, this game is yet another involving a princess who needs rescuing. This one does have a slightly different twist to it though.

Chang is a humble clerk who has the misfortune to fall in love with the Emperor's daughter.

However, Princess Koong-Shee's father has other plans for her and forbids Chang to see her. But our hero is made of strong stuff and decides to break into the palace and elope with the princess.

Willow Pattern

The palace grounds consist of a large maze protected by samurai warriors. Chang must collect various treasures on his journey as well as swords to kill the guards. Only one sword can be carried at a time and each sword can be used only once. The problem is that there aren't enough swords to go round. Overcoming this problem involves a certain amount of personal danger: some of the guards can be enticed to throw swords at you and, if you can dodge out of the way, you can pick up the sword and use it to kill the guard. The trick is not to run off the edge of the screen; otherwise, the sword is lost.

The game is set in a Japanese garden and the graphics depict various temples and houses. These are well drawn but not as bright or colourful as on the original Spectrum version. The graphics of the characters themselves are particularly wishy-washy. One view of the gardens is of bridges over a stream. Traditionally, bridges are protected by giants and Chang has to hop across stepping stones, trying to avoid the hands of the giants as they attempt to knock him into the water, to get across. Once Chang has reached the princess he must then make his way to a hidden boat, at the same time avoiding the pursuing guards.

I was a bit disappointed with this conversion as I enjoyed the original more. The game itself involves little more than working out the optimum route and making the best use of the swords and, I suspect, once you have completed it, it is not something you would want to go back to.