Swords of Bane

by Astros Productions: Peter Karboulonis, George Karboulonis
Crash Issue 35, December 1986   (1986-11-20)   page(s) 125,126

CCS dominate the review section this month and this is their latest release in a rapidly expanding range. Unlike most of their releases to date, CCS have brought their strategy game expertise into the realms of fantasy. It's good to see a change. Fantasy wargaming opens up a whole range of opportunities. You are cast in the role of Head of the Imperial Guard and command a mixed army of warriors and wizards against hordes of terrible monsters.

The game is interesting also because on the B side of the cassette, there's an expanded game for the 128K Spectrum. This version has two extra scenarios and maps to take advantage of the extra memory. The game boasts a double cassette box, glossy instructions with full map diagrams and an icon driven control system. Sounds impressive - but how does it play?

Well the screen is standard fare for CCS, being large and scrollable (what a terrible adjective) within a window. Two other windows allow the statistics display for the unit characters currently in action (le movement points and stamina). At the bottom of the screen, icons are displayed.

The icons represent all the kinds of wizard and warriors you can choose to make up your force. However, different types of troops have different costs. Basically, you can have a large, poorly equipped outfit or a small, powerful one. Fortunately, all character stats are given in the rules. The last choice may be deleted or the combat mode may be entered. In this mode the Icons are Movement, Home, Long Range Combat, End Turn, Blank and Quit. A joystick or keyboard option allows pointer movement.

Combat includes, zones of control for enemy characters, ranged combat with fireballs (two types) and longbows, movement cost and cover factors for different terrain types. The game format then, is essentially simple.

The only scenario available to 48K users is The Village which involves the Guard in a trap set by the enemy monsters in a deserted village. The Forest deals with another group of Guards tending off monsters intent on sacrificing them. Finally The Inn is a strategically important building for both parties which can be fought over the last scenario. The idea of not having the scenarios as sequential pieces but as aspects of a wider battle is very appealing. In all cases, the player has to defeat the Fire Demon to win whereas the monsters have to entirely obliterate the Guard to win. Consequently, battles are a hard fought affair.

There's nothing particularly innovative or clever about this game. It simply plays well. The presentation could have been higher, the background more atmospherically worked out... a little more imagination generally. It gave the impression of a game given a fantasy front to grudgingly please audiences demanding a wider taste, but with little real care for the genre. Nevertheless, there were no moans considering the price. £7.95 is an extremely attractive for any game now, and considering the benefits for 128k owners, this one has to be worth it.

Presentation: 69%
Rules: 67%
Playability: 81%
Graphics: 65%
Authenticity: 64%
Opponent: 79%
Value For Money: 82%
Overall: 77%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 13, January 1987   page(s) 50

Okay, I admit it, this is a wargame. Now before you turn the page, hold it right there! None of your little tin soldiers here, chummy, more Dungeons and Dragons, I'd say. If you've a penchant for orcs that go grunt in the night, and like a bit of strategy and really can't be fagged to type all that text into an adventure game, then this could well be the game for yoohoo.

Set a long time ago, in a medieval village plagued by monsters and demons, the villagers come to you for help. You are the chief strategist with the Imperial Guard, a peacekeeping force of wizards, warriors and minders of all kinds. Using your strategic skills, you must employ your forces in the most effective way to beat back the hordes of fire demons and water elementals, thus saving the village from certain destruction.

Now you might think all this strategic nonsense is boring old tripe, with very little in the way of any kind of excitement for a thrill seeker like yourself. In actual fact, the game moves at a fair old lick, as you position your wizards and warriors, and select all your options from icons with the joystick.

The display is a nice scrolling plan view, as seen in Dandy, of the ravaged landscape, which pans in all directions. As you position one man, the computer pans out to find the next. As you combat a creature, a blown up picture of it (urgh) appears on the side of the screen, to let you see the off-whites of his eyes (gulp).

A brilliant strategy game, for arcade freaks who'd like to exercise the muscle between their ears, and give their trigger finger a rest.

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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