Commodore User


Lancelot

Author: Keith Campbell
Publisher: Datasoft
Machine: Amiga 500

 
Published in Commodore User #63

Lancelot

This is a tale of the Knights Of The Round Table, as enacted by that chivalrous knight, Sir Lancelot. Considerable research by Pete Austin of Level 9 has resulted in an adventure with authentic atmosphere, and faithful to the original Arthurian Legend.

The story starts as Lancelot journeys towards Camelot, and is challenged by a knight who will not let him pass across a stream. The ensuing battle leads to the knighting of Lancelot, whereupon he is given a quest by King Arthur. He must travel to Logris, and set free Arthur's knights who are held there.

Without further ago, Lancelot sets forth, and being chivalrous, he frequently spares the lives of those who would seek to kill him with trickery. From the Orkneys to Cornwall, he travels in search of the missing knights, and before long, earns himself an aide in the form of the Red Knight, and the constant company of the damsel Maledisant, a rather sour-mouthed character, who is always quick to belittle him.

Lancelot

His aide, the Red Knight, although willing, tends to return from every task he is set with the words: "Some of your requests could not be completed." Further investigation into the degree of success enjoyed by the Red Knight, leads to the conclusion that he didn't even try.

In this adventure, you can command people to do things, and off they will go - usually to return with the job complete. You can also FIND and GO TO places and things, and the program will automatically take you there, providing that no obstacle, such as a belligerent knight, stands in your way. Whilst travelling to your destination, unless RUN TO is used instead of GO TO, details of the places you pass through are displayed, and so, later, you can GO TO any of them you think may prove interesting.

There are some difficult puzzles, as well as some fairly easy ones. Rescuing Sir Meliot, for example, is no great feat, provided you are prepared to take risks. But the men imprisoned in Sir Turquin's manor are not so easy to free. Step onto a loose plank on your way into the manor, and you have the choice of stepping back, or tumbling into an apparently exitless pit where the man are imprisoned.

Lancelot

A turret in the Orkneys proves troublesome too. As soon as you approach, the guard signals to someone to lower the portcullis and is then able to prevent your entry for as long as it takes it to fully close.

The ability to command other characters therefore makes for some interesting and realistic strategies. Should you tell the Red Knight to go to the turret, and attack the guard, then follow whilst he is engaged in battle? Or perhaps, to get the timing right, you should tell the Red Knight to wait, and then go and attack the guard, so that you can approach simultaneously, entering your command during the Red Knight's WAIT period. There are many combinations of moves that can be tried in this way.

In keeping with Level 9's current format, there are three parts to the program, which are separate loads on the text-only cassette version. Two parts, set in Camelot and Logris, are almost invisible as separate parts on disk versions, and precede the third part which takes place after all of Arthur's knights have been freed. Here your task is to obtain the Holy Grail.

Unfortunately, the performance of the program leaves a lot to be desired. On many occasions, text entirely out of context with the current situation appears in the replies. What is perhaps more annoying, is the non-recognition of words and commands that are reasonable in pursuit of the solution to a problem. A case in point is a river whose water cannot be seen when examined, but from which a chalice can be filled with water. A group of priests are described as "...drinking from the stream..." yet the chalice of water turns out to be salty.

All in all, it's a cracking good story, and well thought out in its presentation as an adventure, yet spoiled by lack of anticipation of players' likely commands, and a few minor text bugs that sometimes give confusing replies.

C64 Update

Play Lancelot on a C64, and you'll get exactly the same text and puzzles, but the adventure will take longer to play if you want to see the pictures. This is due to the slower picture loading on a C64 coupled with the extra load on the processor to maintain a split screen.

The adventure comes on a double-sided disk, and one the game starts, the disk is flipped over to access the pictures. But these are not replicas of the original 16-bit graphics - often they are complete redraws, showing the scene from a different aspect. All are considerably simplified, showing less detail and subtlety of colour and shade than is possible on a C64, given a lot of loving care.

Keith Campbell

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