About a year after the first Fairlight stormed the Spectrum games market, Bo Jangeborg and the team from THE EDGE have come up with the sequel.
The land of Fairlight has been decaying over many thousands of years, ever since the good King Avars who ruled over the land was murdered. When the King was slain, Fairlight slipped into the gloom and despair in which it is still trapped today. However, legend tells of a wizard who will one day be born to free the land from despair. In the original Fairlight, your character, Isvar was apparently called and told to seek out the book of Light which will help bring Fairlight back to its former glory. However, in the sequel it becomes apparent that you were cruelly deceived. Instead of Segar you in fact gave the Book of Light to the Dark Lord who can now harness its power to bring even more gloom and despair to the stricken land.
Bo Jangeborg has incorporated 3D graphics like Fairlight. Each object has its own mass, and obeys the laws of physics and gravity. For instance, heavier objects like large boulders take more effort to pick up than say, a small piece of food. Heavier objects will also travel less far when they are pushed than lighter ones. Isvar is informed in no uncertain terms if an object which he's trying to lift is actually too heavy.
Isvar is the character you play in Fairlight II. He must roam around the outside and inside of the Dark Tower, facing the foes and guards who are waiting to stop him in his mission. After all, if Isvar mucks things up this time as well, there may be no salvation for Fairlight.
Once again, Isvar has five pockets which he can use to store useful objects in. Isvar starts out the game with 99 energy points and these are shown ticking down numerically by a counter at the top of the screen. Food will buck up his energy levels if they get too low.
Isvar must watch his step when he's trolling around the outside of the tower. Sheer cliffs shelve away into infinity. This power diminishes after encounters with dwarves, guards, killer wolverines and various other nasties who patrol the outside and inside the tower.
When Isvar leaves one location and moves on to another there is a short pause while the new location flashes, ready drawn onto the screen. Unlike the first version, the screen doesn't go black for a split second, but behaves more like a standard flick screen arrangement.
Control keys: V-P up and right, G-L down and left, Q-T up and left, A-G down and right, SYM/SPACE jump, B-M fight, X-V pick up, CAPS-Z drop, 1-5 select objects, 6-7 use selected object, SYM+SPACE pause game
Joystick: Kempston, but only to control the movements of Isvar, everything else must be carried out via the keyboard
Keyboard play: hard to get the hang of initially due to the number of keys used in the game, but very smooth once this has been overcome
Use of colour: monochrome
Graphics: fine detail
Sound: atmospheric tune at the beginning, but no sound during the actual game
Skill levels: one
'Fairlight II is far too much like the first game, and even though it is faster, the second game is quite boring to play after only a few games. Basically, I think that Fairlight only impressed me and many other people because of its extremely detailed graphics but the game is much too 'ard for the basic Spectrum owner (well me at least!). The problems in Fairlight II are more obscure than the first and it takes much longer to get into than the first. A decent follow up to Fairlight, but nothing different.'
'I hated Fairlight so I can't really be expected to be over the moon about this, and to tell you the truth I'm not. As far as I can see this is no real step forward from the original, there is a larger playing area and the graphics are a lot more varied but not essentially prettier. The game plays in a very similar way to the stacks of other Filmation games although the way in which different objects behave is a cute touch. If you are a fan of Fairlight then no doubt this will appeal, if not then I'd stay well clear of this.'
'Oooh! Look at these graphics! Bo Jangeborg is certainly capable of producing something worthwhile, as this more than proves. The only gripes that I've got are the time it takes to flick screens, and the speed with which the character moves when there are several moving items on screen. The inertia and differing gravities of objects varying in weight is finely produced, and the whole game is one that's well worth getting.'
And behold, it came to pass in the land of Fairlight that a darkness descended over all who lived there. (There'd been a sort of mystical power cut.) And Isvar entered the land to seek the Book of Light that would restore the kingdom to its former glory. And as it is foretold, he uncovered the book in the secret sections of Castle Avars. But lo, he then plonked it on a platter to the wrong person. Forsooth Isvar, thou art a proper nelly!
At this point, the first game in the Fairlight trilogy comes to an abrupt end. If you completed the opening part, you'll know that Isvar's been hanging around outside the gates of Castle Avars longer than the wait for the 73 bus on a Saturday night.
But now the wait is over. It's a good year since Isvar dumped the Book of Light right into the lap of the Lord Of Darkness and legged it. Fairlight II: Trail Of Darkness takes over on the very next screen.
So, what's it like in this brave new world then? Well, a bit like it was in the old world really, only green. Bo Jangeborg's turned over a new leaf and filled the land of Fairlight with trees. And the woods alive with weird wolves. Another couple of screens further on and you're on the beach and aaaargh! I s'pose whoever put that cliff there thought it was very funny - a sort of Bo jest!
You'll discover caves and craggy outcrops; there's a large annexe to the castle to explore plus you'll find a pirate ship.
On a bog-standard Speccy the game comes in two parts: you have to load the second one as soon as you've completed the first part. State-of-the-art Speccy owners got the lot in one go on a separate 128 version.
Of course, the two big questions are, how does Fairlight II differ from the original and does it match up? At first sight, the differences are very subtle - a few cosmetic changes to the screen border and that's about it. Then you start playing and you'll notice the big change. There's no longer a black-out as you move from screen to screen. Instead, Isvar beeps and stands still until the next screen is drawn. Okay, you get used to it, but it is a bit of a cop-out. We've seen much quicker methods of tackling the same problem in other games over the last year.
And this is the nub of the problem with Fairlight II. A lot of code's gone under the keyboard in the last year and Fairlight doesn't seem so revolutionary any more.
So much for the gripes, what are the good things? Well, the graphics are great - those wolves will have you howling! The puzzles are as complex as ever, or at least they seem so to someone who's yet to complete any of them. And mapping's going to be a nightmare. Try this for size - go out of one door, then back in again immediately. Yep, a different room!
Fairlight II: Trail Of Darkness may not come as quite such a shock as the first time you loaded its predecessor but it's still just as much a megagame. Now quick, before the lights go out completely in Fairlight...
So there you are stuck outside this castle in the land of Fairlight feeling pretty good about yourself.
You cracked the problems of Fairlight I finally completing your task when you handed over the Book of Light to the Dark Lord. Ere, hang on a minute. What's this?
Another quest? Yup.
Through the land of Fairlight and beyond, through castles, forests, seas and rocky plateau, or through hundreds of puzzles and problems and seemingly exitless rooms, past myriad sprites of people and animals and little blobby things to take on the Dark Lord once and for all...
Fairlight II is big - 128K loaded in sections on a conventional Spectrum or in one go with music on a 128K machine.
The Edge means business. Fairlight II is not for weekend adventurers. You're going to have to be up all night...
Imagine Fairlight I, doubled in size with a much wider variety of graphics, both in terms of background locations and sprites.
There are natural creatures like wolves (utterly convincing animation) and humans - a girl you discover early on apparently just wandering around - but in dark corners monsters of every description lurk, the most bizarre of which (that I discovered anyway) seemed to be a deadly black pudding.
Much of the first part of Fairlight II is set out of doors. A wooded forest with twisted trees, occasional clear sections with scattered bolters and ruined buildings. There is plenty to investigate but mostly a lot of problems requiring answers walled up doorways, locked doors, passages that lead nowhere and the girl. She is, the Edge says enigmatically, very important, I'm none the wiser.
Much is generally familiar - same control keys, same basic functions - diagonal movement, pick up, fight - some similar looking rooms to Fairlight I.
The concepts of weight and momentum of objects are still present, all important considerations when solving some of the Ultimatesque visual problems scattered throughout the game.
More that is new a redesigned system of pockets (five objects only held at any one time, hundreds to choose from). The world has edges where the reckless may suddenly find themselves tumbling over a sheer cliff face.. The variety to the screens has been increased considerably. The use of 'part filled screens' was a noteworthy feature of part I and here the technique is carried further - one box - like room occupies a small area of the screen barely larger than Isvar (your character) himself - it looks and even 'feels' claustrophobic.
The graphics are true 3D. You walk behind trees or parts of trees and other objects in a stunningly realistic way. Whilst there is still no scrolling time when moving from one to the other is reduced to almost nothing.
To get from one part of the game to another you must solve certain problems. It's only possible to get to the second section in one way. Conversely, just because you do manage to get to the section it doesn't mean you have accomplished everything in Section 1. You may get half way through Part 2 before you realise that there is some other object you need or some other action you should have performed. The Edge is making.no compromises with this one.
Criticisms? Very few. I have to say that I never did like the design of Isvar the central hero who always looked a little too much like a dodgy Mediterranean car salesman for me, but that's hardly a major quibble.
As someone who never did solve Fairlight I by making Fairlight II even tougher, The Edge may not have frightened off a few novice players.
On the other hand the hard core will absolutely adore it and I can't say I feel differently. When can I get the cheat sheet.
Label: The Edge
Author: Bo Janeborg
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
MACHINE: Spectrum 48/128
SUPPLIER: The Edge
This isn't an adventure for the fainthearted. It's big and dangerous to start if you've got boring things to do - like going to school, sleeping and eating. Stuff like that. 'Cos once you venture into the world of Fairlight you're going to find yourself handing around with Isvar for some time to come.
I get the impression that this is what programmer Bo Jangborg wanted Fairlight the first to be like.
Bo has come up with an enhanced version of his 3DWorldmaker system to make Fairlight II substantially larger and much more complex than his original hit game.
Fairlight II takes up Isvar's story where the first adventure left off. He's discovered that he gave the Book of Light to the wrong person! It wasn't Segar the Immortal in the tower but the Dark Lord himself. And instead of freeing the land of Fairlight from the grasp of the evil one he has virtually guaranteed its doom and destruction. Stupid boy!
But, unlike real life, Isvar gets a second chance to defeat the Dark Lord by finding the book and the big baddie - again. And that's where YOU come in.
You begin the game in a forest with twisted trees and nasty wolves roaming about. There are many problems to be solved. Bricked up doorways to mysterious ruins, passages that lead nowhere - apparently and the enigmatic female who Isvar encounters and who may may not be an important character in the adventure.
Isvar's world has edgesor more exactly cliffs which he can plunge over if he's not careful. Afterwards he'll find himself back at the starting point where something strange always falls from the sky only to be hidden by a tree.
What is this globe thingy. And is it important?
The graphics are similar to the original - intricate black outlines on a base colour. The blackout between screens which put a few people off the first game has been reduced to a minimum.
The 48k version comes in two parts while the special 128k edition - one of the few proper 128 games around currently - loads in one go and has a neat musical intro.
You can take bits from part one into part two with you - but there's always the chance that you haven't got everything you need to complete the game. This makes the 128 version slightly easier to deal with.
Fairlight II isn't a game for the novice arcade adventurer. It's just too big and rambling for that. But if you were one of the few to solve Fairlight the first then you'll be dying to take up the challenge of this sequel.
Am I alone in thinking that the hero looks a bit like Bo Jangborg himself? And why not in it!
Fairlight II is a game for map makers and game purists alike. If you've got a few months to spare pick up a copy today...
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