Amstrad Computer User1st May 1988
Published in Amstrad Computer User #42
Slaine is an action-packed adventure from Martech, with good graphics and a novel form of command control. No typing of instructions is necessary. All your inputs are given using either a joystick or five keys on the keyboard. Available on both cassette and disc for the CPC.
The action takes place in Lyonesse, a land that has been under the control of the evil drone lords. Slaine, a Celtic champion, arrives with his dwarven companion Ukko just after the villagers living near the Tower of Small Sky have killed its drune owner. Your mission is not specified, but moving around will reveal that your main aims appear to be to find certain objects and destroy the evil rogues you meet on your travels.
The game is loosely based on ideas from the comic series 2000 AD and although I have only seen a few of them I think that the atmosphere generated by the game is in keeping with the brash, bombastic blarney portrayed in the comics. Sadly I found the game play very frustrating.
Martech has introduced a new game playing system that is intended to represent the thoughts going through Slaine's mind. These thoughts are shown at the top of the screen and you must move a pointer (a severed hand) to the thought and activate it by pressing the 'fire' button.
There are ten thoughts flitting backwards and forwards across the top of the screen and coordinating the pointer with any one is not at all easy. Coupled with this you find that Slaine's thoughts may not be the ones you wish to implement. Ukko is imploring you to get a move on and Slaine is thinking of something else entirely.
Initiate the wrong action and you find you have begun an unwanted sequence of events. This could be particularly embarrassing if an enraged warrior is approaching with intent to do you bodily harm. Once a fight is started, you have several options such as kick, swing, punch and duck, but the combat sequence is neither believable nor inspiring.
The screen is divided into three main areas: thoughts at the top, a text window below left and a graphics display below right. The graphics window shows such things as your location, what you are carrying, people you meet or things you are examining, all of which is well thought out and presented.
The idea behind Slaine is very good indeed but the game suffers from a clumsy method of control and the number of actions is limited. Some will persevere and get their money's worth but I would rather wait for the improved version I hope Martech will produce in the future.