£10.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: James Leach
A horrible, hideous evilness has befallen the land. Nasty things are occuring every day, and people are getting concerned enough to write off to The Times about it. It's time to dust down some Heroes.
But who ya gonna call? An Elf, a Barbarian, a Wizard and the obligatory Dwarf, that's who. These are the intrepid Hero Questers who are suddenly dumped into The Unpleasant Dungeon of Morcar, where they must complete up to 15 spooky quests, involving killing various creatures, finding secret treasure and rescuing people too pathetic to rescue themselves.
Each character can be controlled by a different player, and on the earlier levels the dungeon is mapped out for you (which makes things nice and straightforward because you can't get lost). Each blokie starts off at a different corner of the 'board', then there's a random dice roll for each and they trog off in any direction they want.
Now listen carefully - this is important. Each character has one action and one movement per turn. The movement can be as many squares as he's rolled, and the action may be carried out before or after the movement, but not in the middle of it. An action can be a fight, casting a spell, searching for traps and hidden doors, and searching for treasure (which is the best of the batch).
The maze has lots of rooms, contents unknown. Each character must explore these using his actions. Every search might reveal a secret passage, special magic potions or cash. This wandering around would be absolutely fine and dandy if it weren't for the...
(Tremble, quake!) Roaming around the dungeon are some of the most loathsome beings ever (just like Andy first thing in the morning). Goblins, orcs, skeletons, Chaos Warriors (the biggest of the lot) - they're all best dealt with by being run up to and attacked with a battle axe, sword or anything you happen to be armed with.
Of course, you may get a wee bit hurt by some of these gruesome confrontations and this is where body point levels and mind levels come in. Every creature has them (including your fearless 4). The Dwarf and Barbarian have high body points but low mind points ('cos they're ravver stoopid) while Elves and Wizards have good brains but weedy muscles (so when they're fighting they tend to use magic spells instead of swords, axes or potato peelers. Sensible really).
As the guys blunder around they can set off hidden traps which strip all-important life points from them. Luckily, searching for treasure can also unearth healing potions (sort of supernatural Andrews Liver Salts) which restore their strength. Other magic potions give a character double strength in any attacks, or make him immune to damage (for a while).
Of course if you find any treasure then you'll soon be wanting to spend it, and luckily enough there's a friendly Dungeon Happy Shopper at the end of each quest. Here you'll find helmets, swords, axes, shields, Marigold gloves (in 3 sizes!) and even the odd spell or 2.
IT'S DEEP MAN!
So you should be getting the picture by now. There's a lot of depth to Hero Quest. And there are lots of ways to play it. You could get all the characters to meet up so they travel round in a group (which means they'll completely trash any monsters they find 'cos they can all jump in at once). Of course, that means that the first person into a room often get to find the treasure, but that isn't too much of a bad thing either 'cos then you get to fight about it amongst yourselves (and it's a lot of fun scrapping with the dwarf!).
The original board game that it's based on was squillion-seller success and they've done a really nice job of transferring it to the Spec. The icon system of movement makes things easy-peasy-lemon-sqeeezy and there's even a Save-character facility so you can use the same bloke in continuing quests over 3 or 4 weeks.
I do have one quibble though, and that's that the spelling's diabolical. I mean, you lot pick us up on every speeling mitsak we do, so why should the Grems get away with using dreadful English. I'm sorry but I feel very strongly about this, I really do (I'll be talking to their headmaster about extra lessons for them after school.)
But apart from that it's all pretty hunky dory, and the good news is that Gremlin are working on expansion packs, to take you into even more hideous, nasty dungeons in the future. There'll be worse monsters, priceless treasure and more painful traps. I can't wait!
And a personal hello to carpet-fitter Bernard Opportunity of Dalton! (He's the only one who ever reads this box, you know.)
Reviewer: Jonathan Nash
The random nature of the universe. It's a problem, isn't it, readers? Just when you think things are all hunky-dory, the flip of a celestial coin and you're hit by a falling tree while riding the escalator in WH Smith. Hero Quest is a similar experience, except without the tree, or the escalator, or indeed the popular high street shop.
In Hero Quest, you control a bunch of mythical heroes during an average fortnight's hacking and slaying. Some of 'em are really beefy, some can use magic, some cook a really ace dead rabbit, and so on. You have the choice of fourteen quests to undertake, involving things like rescuing knights, stealing gold, destroying the ultimate evil force in the universe, and so on. Monsters pitted against you include ores, zombies and evil versions of yourselves. (And so on, ho ho. Ed). Everything takes place in dungeons, and you have to get out after succeeding in the quest of the day.
Well, that's Hero Quest in a nutshell, except for the important bits like gameplay and presentation. (A mere bagatelle. Ed) On the graphical front, it's pretty darn smart, with a sharp isometric 3D view and large sprites. Regarding gameplay, it's dismal. Miserable, in fact. Because, you see, everything relies on chance. The original Hero Quest (the board game) involved lots of dice and throwing of same - the Speccy conversion prints a load of random numbers, and you press fire to stop them. Wowee, eh?
Never mind the scope for introducing real combat sequences involving, well, skill - just bash fire and hope the great luck goddess favours you with a decent number.
It's a bit sad really. Tasty presentation (the 128K has plenty of tunes as well), up to four players in a game, and a slew of tricky levels, all ruined by the reliance on little flashing digits. There are times when conversions can be too accurate.
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