Producer: Odin Computer Graphics
Retail Price: £9.95
Language: Machine code
Author: Odin Team
From a time outside history, before the language of the English was ever written down, there come to us stories and legends of heroes and valiant folk. One such story tells of Robin, son of Aleric, keeper of the Arrow. This silver arrow was a symbol of freedom and peace to the Saxon nation and it came into the Sheriff of Nottingham's possession after he arranged for Aleric's death. The arrow meant nothing to the Sheriff, and the years passed as the Normans continued to rob and exploit the Saxons.
Many years later, Aleric's son, Robin, became a thorn in the Sheriff's side. He had grown up and become the hero of the Saxon race, creating havoc by robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Realising the value of the Silver Arrow to the Saxons, the Sheriff announced that it would be the prize in an archery contest. Knowing that Robin would not be able to resist the challenge, the Sheriff sent his Norman knights out into the wood to hunt for Robin.
It is the day of the archery contest and you play the part of Robin. It is your mission to recover the arrow, The Shaft of Power, for the Saxon nation. Before making your way to the Sheriff's castle to enter the contest, you must first complete several other tasks in the forest. The old wise Ent (remember them from Lord of the Rings?) has in his keeping your bow, your sword and three magical arrows. In order to get these you must give the Ent three bags of gold for each weapon. The gold is in the possession of the Evil Bishop of Peterborough, who has an escort of crossbow-wielding Normans: some nifty fighting is needed before he can be robbed.
There are three areas in the game: the forest, the castle dungeons and the castle itself. The forest is a maze of leafy glades and tree-lined pathways through which the animated figure of Robin runs. Objects, including extra lives, flowers and arrows are scattered round the forest floor. All Robin has to do to pick them is is move over them and squat down. Apart from the marauding Norman soldiers who have orders to shoot on sight, and do their best to inflict wounds, there are other characters in the wood who will help or hinder you. While travelling to the castle you will encounter witches, who materialise from time to time. A witch will send you to the castle dungeon unless she's given the right amount of flowers. On the other hand, if a witch is given flowers, she may help by transporting Robin to another location. A visit to the hermit doctor will pay dividends if you have been injured - but he isn't too nice, if you're carrying weapons.
Boars run loose in the forest, and contact with a tusked terror leads to injuries. Occasionally you cross the path of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has you imprisoned in his dungeons if he spots you. It is possible to escape from the dungeons, but not without a key!
Once you have got all the weapons and got into the castle you are able to enter the tournament and have a chance of winning the arrow. The three magical arrows purchased from the Ent will safeguard you against being recognised by the Sheriff, but once you have fired the last magic arrow you will be spotted, and must escape before getting caught.
Throughout the game your status is displayed at the bottom of the screen, together with the objects carried. Robin's health is represented by a pair of antlers which change colour according to his energy level. Naturally, if Robin's wounds become too severe, he dies, and care must be taken as you only have one life at the start of the game.
Just below the antlers the objects carried and extra lives obtained are displayed. Robin begins the game with a quarterstaff, which is perfectly adequate for despatching the Normans, but will only work in hand to hand combat. Other weapons can be used against the foe, and will come into action as appropriate, once you have bought them from the Ent.
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Protek and Cursor types, Interface 2
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: excellent variety, with few attribute problems
Graphics: beautifully done, detailed and well executed
Sound: some recognisable speech plus a nice tune at the start of the game
Skill levels: 1
Odin's first release, Nodes of Yesod, was quite unexpected and proved to be an excellent game. Could they keep up the standards set by their previous and produce the goods in Robin of the Wood? Thankfully, the answer is yes! Graphically this game is excellent, and the attention to detail is evident throughout. The programmers are obviously perfectionists. The high standard of the graphics has not been at the expense of colour: there are few attribute problems. Some cynics may say that the game looks like a Sabre Wulf variant, but it is much more involved, and character interaction plays an important part in Robin of the Wood. The animation is very well done - just watch Robin use his bow or attack a Norman with his trusty sword! The game makes quite a fun beat em up! Robin of the Wood is definitely another hit from the Odin stable. I can't wait for The Arc of Yesod.
Everyone at CRASH Towers was eagerly awaiting Robin of the Wood. Then the finished copy arrived and was loaded up. 'Wow! What colour' I thought as Robin materialised on the screen. When everyone else had had their go, I finally got my hands on it. Robin's a great little character in the way he plods around the forest. After a few plays I realized that there was more behind the forest than first meets the eye. And it's a very colourful one - even with red and blue trees. You get a taste of the aggro to come when you go around hitting everyone in sight with your staff - which is great fun. After a while you get to hate witches. Every time I came across one I had no flowers and she nicked my money bags. The Bishop and other characters are fantastically animated and when you get into the castle the colour used is amazing. This game is one of the most addictive I've played and I would recommend it to anyone.
Though first impressions lead you believe Robin of the Wood is yet another Sabre Wulf clone, upon closer inspection it soon becomes apparent that a lot more thought and ingenuity has gone into its creation. The graphics are impeccable, animationally superior to nearly every other release on the Spectrum. The statics are very good too, giving a really woody atmosphere with realistically drawn flora and fauna. I thought the red boars were great, scuffling realistically across the screen. This is certainly a great step forward for Odin - it's even better than the excellent Nodes of Yesod.
This is a funny sort of game - and you don realise just how addictive it can be until you've been playing it for at least two hours!
Okay, it must be admitted... there are certain cynical gamesters who might point a finger at the format of the game and mention a couple of Ultimate titles, but Robin o' The Wood is certainly in a category of its own. For instance, the first time I played the game, it was over 40 minutes before I realised I hadn't yet been killed and tossed back to the beginning. Not that the game's easy...
You get to play the part of Robin, hurtling around the castles, woods and open land searching for keys, flowers, and all sorts of other medieval knick-knacks. The Norman's trudge around the scenery relentlessly firing off crossbows at you, but they're fairly easy to dodge and they don't do that much harm anyway. The real menaces are the red rats - they kill... and quickly too! If you catch sight of one of them rushing towards you, there's no point in trying to kill it with your spear - it's just a waste of time.
Your life energy is measured by a white strip beneath the playing area. As you suffer crossbow bolts and encounters with rats, it gradually turns mauve and then blue... which means you're dead. Of course, find the white-bearded sage and you not only gain a new life but all your ills are cured. Watch Out though for the green goddess that appears out of nowhere, steals some of your treasure and naffs off.
Graphics are good and movement around the screen is both fast and smooth. And, although the screens are all fairly similar - which is how the programmer has managed to cram so many into the game - there are familiar landmarks every now and then to get your bearings from.
It doesn't really bear much similarity to the Robin Hood stories we all know and love - but that doesn't matter a bit. A great game - buy it!
THE NOTTINGHAM Liberation Movement - incorporating Friends of Sherwood - requires your help. Guerrilla leader Robin Hood has to recover the Saxons' arrows from the oppressive tyrant of Nottingham in order to galvanise his woodland pickets into winning the Saxon revolution.
Or, to put it another way, run round the maze, find the silver, arrows, flowers, gold bags and whatnot, get into the castle, win the archery contest and bop off as many nasty Normans as you can, or it's boiling oil for you and a fate worse than death for the delectable Marian.
Odin's attempt to recreate Sherwood forest is a sprawling maze game of the Sabre Wulf variety. The graphics are pretty and rather fuzzy round the edges, picturing trees and undergrowth, bushes, and the occasional mysterious gate or crumbling wall close to the Sheriff of Nottingham's castle.
The forest is peopled by a number of characters. The ever present Norman patrols will shoot if they see you, but creep up behind them and they'll fall down like ninepins if you crack them over their silly helmets with ye olde quarterstaffe.
Then there are the rats. At least, I say they are rats. The estimable and learned John Stanley Gilbert claims these red creatures are in fact wild boars. It doesn't alter the fact that they look like rats. They have a nasty bite, anyway, and you can't kill them with ye olde knobbly stick, so avoid them.
Witches are a menace. They materialise in the shape of a willowy vision of human loveliness, to which Robin promptly responds with a dynamic groan as of one kicked in the groin. If you are carrying flowers they will take them; if you have no flowers they'll take your money instead, which is a pity as you need the money to give to the poor.
Actually, you don't give it to the poor at all. Instead, you give it to the old Ent who seems to have strayed a long way from Tolkien. He will distribute it to the poor on your behalf and provide you with a special charmed arrow in return for three bags of gold. You need three arrows to enter the Sheriffs archery contest. This is what the Ent says, but I reckon he's keeping all the dough himself and saving up to buy a part in Lord of the Rings game two.
He also has your bow and sword, weapons which make fighting the Normans easier. In fact he's a regular businessent, and much of the time is spent going to and fro between him and the loot in order to get equipped.
Sound on the 48K version is as pathetic as you might expect, whereas the 128K game comes complete with sub-Clannad music and speech effects such as "Give me a chance", when Robin is about to lose another life. The fact that I can decipher Robin's comments is a compliment to Odin's ability with 128K sound effects.
I didn't get as far as the tournament - it's a big game and a lot of time spent on mapping would be a decided asset. I was impressed though, by the way the Sheriff arrested me and flung me in prison just as I was about to pull the plug in boredom. Robin then gets to run around a maze in the castle for a bit looking for the key and the way out.
A hermit will give you extra lives if you can find him, and no doubt there are a few extra bits hidden here and there along the way. If you are new to Sinclair computers you could do worse than buy Robin of the Wood, it has good graphics and a complicated and absorbing theme, but is not too difficult to play. Older hands will probably find it a little simple and rather too like Sabre Wulf and similar maze games of over a year ago.
I think it's all pretty silly myself, but I'm prepared to give both 48K and 128K versions the benefit of the doubt and a four star rating all the same. Certainly there's plenty of fun to be got out of it.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor
"Can you help Robin in his quest to find the silver arrow?" asks a voice issuing from the Spectrum. Speech on the Spectrum 128 is impressive enough but Odin have gone on to add a number of deft touches to Robin of the Wood that make it a pure pleasure to play.
A jaunty medieval tune plays throughout the game, only interrupted when you hove felled one of the Sheriff's men with your trusty staff. Your reward is a quick burst of the traditional Robin ditty (usually associated with arrows embedded and twanging in a tree) before the theme music smoothly takes over again.
Another nice feature is revealed when Robin is being given a hard time by the Sheriff's men. "Give me a chance." he pleads as another arrow hits him.
With its superior graphics, smooth animation and sound effects Robin of the Wood shows that Odin are among the front runners in using the potential of the 128.
And so they came - the first trickle of 128 games. Sinclair cleverly made sure that the software was there, ready for the new machine. But most of the first releases have been expanded versions of existing titles, and we all know, don't we, that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better? After all, it's what you do with it that counts. So here it is - the highly personal, Rachael J Smith guide to those first ten releases.
Another delight from Odin who seem able to take a standard formula - here it's Sabre Wulfe - and give it new life with their superior graphics. Once again the sound and speech add a new dimension with Hey Nonny No musicke instead of the original silence. Once again though it seemed to suffer from unwelcome resets when played from the keyboard! Still, a must for newcomers who should rob from the rich to buy it.
So there they are, ten offerings for the 128. All benefit from having their amplified sound blasted out through the TV, and where the new sound chip has been used to full effect it's like suddenly being able to hear after years of deafness. But while there are things here to appeal to the person who's never owned a Spectrum before, I can't see much point in duplicating a game unless you were a big fan of the original. And that means that we're not yet in a position to say whether the 128 itself is worth buying. We'll have to wait until games that make full use of that extra memory - that do things that can't be achieved in 48K - appear before we all decide to trade in our old machines.
ALL THE LITTLE EXTRA BITS
Julian Rignall, for it is he, puts down the joystick attached to his Commodore 64, wanders into the CRASH office and has a quick look at the game we've received for the 128K Spectrum. Between thee and me, he ended up well impressed - a diehard Commie 64 man, Jaz left the office muttering about buying the new Spectrum. Can't be bad news for Sinclair, that....
Hmmmm, a Spectrum with added bits? What would they be? I wondered. Wheels, a bit of whoosh, twiddly things? Nope, none of these - just extra RAM and an on-board hot plate to keep your coffee warm as you bash the baddies through the night. Well, it's not really a hot plate, but it doesn't half act like one. Anyway, what do these extra features mean to yer average gamesplayer on the street?
CHATTY AND TUNEFUL
Odin's Robin of the Wood and Nodes of Yesod have been souped up and join the handful of titles currently available for the 128K machine. The game elements and playing area of both 128 versions are unchanged but they now feature excellent music (as good as the Commodore any old day, believe me 'cos I'm a horrible ZZAP! reviewer). Also, a nice surprise awaits you... both programs talk. Yup, they do, and it's not too bad - a lot better than the dalek with laryngitis stuff that the old Spectrums used to burble out. 128 owners can hear Robin shouting "OW" when he gets an arrow in a painful place, and "give me a chance!!" a few seconds before he shuffles off this mortal coil. The game welcomes the player by saying "Can you help Robin in his quest for the silver arrow" upon loading - real arcade stuff!
Nodes follows a similar path on the 128, with Champagne Charlie moaning and groaning as he trundles round the moon's underground caverns in his search for alchiems. You're also told when his life energy is running low, just in case you don't notice... wheee! Arc of Yesod is expected in the office any day now, and includes the fire option that was missing from the 48K version which should make it much more fun to play. Once again Odin have kept pretty much to the same game, but enhanced the product with speech and music. Odin are selling their 128 games for £9.95 - the same price charged for the originals.
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