Lots of funny names [Like yours? - Ed] to get to grips with in this game. You are none other than Artura. Your quest is to find Nimue, apprentice of Merdyn the Mage, who's been captured by Morgause your evil half-sister. Let's face it, when you're in the ancient kingdom of Albion, Stan and Doris just won't do.
Even more difficult to grasp is the storyline which involves you wandering around Morgause's Dun (what's a dun?) to rescue Nimue. Whilst you're doing this, you're supposed to collect various Rune stones which, the blurb says, will let you use the mystical wheel of Cerridwen to return home on - so it's really all about finding the Celtic equivalent of a bus-pass.
Anyway, no mystic Runes for guessing that this is a wander around the levels game. It looks pretty ordinary too: loads of brick walls, chunky wooden doors to take you up and stairwells to go down. The upper levels are outdoors (trees, shrubs, a few birds flying around) whilst the lower levels are obviously dungeons (spiders, rats, etc).
In traditional style, Runestones are identified by the 'R' that's on them. Some of them are placed in particularly nasty places, like the other side of a pit that you'll never get out of if you fall in.
Apart from the well-worn programming, the game's got few things going for it, particularly in the graphics department. The sprites are large but they're hardly well detailed. Artura himself is big, and has a plumed helmet that bobs up and down - not the helmet, the plume. His main weapon is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of axes. Whenever he throws one, it spins through the air, hitting the ground a few lengths in front of him. The backgrounds too are a little on the sparse side, whilst the animation is poor with lots of bouncing sprites.
But, best of all, are the rats. Don't get me wrong, I don't like rats. Jimmy Cagney was right, they're dirty. But these rats are the size of dogs and they scuttle around the lower floors. They waggle their noses, sit up on their hind legs and generally snap at your ankles as you go past. A flying axe will put paid to one of these but it must land squarely on its head.
Not surprisingly, you have a finite supply of energy which goes down a little on every contact with a nasty. Even the swooping birds on upper levels drain your supply. Energy replenishing fruit is to be found here and there - but not enough as far as I'm concerned.
I must admit to being a little confused by the runes. Whenever you find one, its icon appears at the bottom of the screen. You're supposedly able to activate a rune by going into rune mode. Well, I haven't and it may be that you need to find all of them before something suitably magic happens. Better wait and see. What's annoying about all this are the minimal instructions. You know what I mean, the "find out for yourself" approach.
Artura is a rather ordinary game dressed up with a few frills. It's a must for axe-throwing rat lovers everywhere, but others should approach with care.