Gargoyle Games' first release was the very well received Ad Astra, a 3D 'shoot 'em up' space game. But Tir Na Nog could hardly be more different. It's an adventure that combines the 'what you see is what's there' graphic style of Valhalla with simple no-text keyboard controls. (That comparison is rather unfair though because the graphics in Tir Na Nog reflect all the advances in programming techniques that have occured since Valhalla appeared!)
The hero of the game Cuchulainn (Cucuc for short) is represented by a fully-animated graphic almost one third of the screen high. He scours the Land of Youth (Tir Na Nog) for the four pieces of the seal of Calum in an effort to re-unite them to defeat the great enemy.
Cucuc's only mode of transport is to walk. You control the hero using simple 'walk left' and 'walk right' keys. Two more keys are used to pick up and drop the many objects and weapons littered around the paths.
Weapons are very important items for Cucuc as he's not alone in Tir Na Nog - there's also a violent race of monkeys called Sidhe; they can be defeated by 'thrusting' at them with some kind of weapon. If Cucuc loses a fight, he doesn't die (in fact he's dead already!) but all his possessions are dropped and he goes back to the starting position - so it's useful to save the game straight away when you start, if you don't want all the bits and pieces littered all over the shop!
Tir Na Nog is a mammoth undertaking which will take a very long time to complete and, as such, offers excellent value for money for 'mad mappers'. Add to that the superb graphics and you have a game which deserves to go down as a classic!
Some old hippies might try and persuade you that Tir Na Nog is an Irish folkband that gained prominence along with Planxty and other unpronounceable names. These people will of course know that the phrase is Gaelic for land of youth. So here we have it, a computer game set in the Celtic Other World. There probably are Irish computer jokes but naturally you won't find ant of that sort of thing in Your Computer.
Based on the great Irish mythological hero Cuchulainn, the game is billed as a "computer movie". Things being what they are today, it is very difficult for a self-respecting computer game to get into the shops without (a) being based on a movie, or (b) going the whole hog and actually pretending to be a movie in its own right.
Tir Na Nog has taken the latter course - the action is presented as through a camera pointing at Cuchulainn, whom we are assured was known as Cacuc to his friends and intimates. Personally, I would not try calling the shambling knee-jerker at the centre of the screen anything other than Sir unless I had bought him at least three pints of Guinness. If he could play the bass guitar he would certainly give Motorhead's Lemmy a lot to worry about.
He stands 56 pixels tall - that's pixels, not pixies - and is controlled from the keyboard. The animation of the character is very impressive.
As he slouches disconsolately through Tir Na Nog, the detailed scenery in the fore and middle grounds scrolls past him. Birds of ill-omen hover around the castle of King Dhomnuil, flapping their wings continuously in the distance. Cuchulainn can carry up to four objects - though you have to check with the status area at the bottom of the screen to see what he is actually carrying.
Since everyone in the Celtic Other World is actually dead all you can hope to do is daunt them a little bit, and should anyone harm Cuchulainn seriously he just rematerialises at the entrance to Tir Na Nog - sans objects.
The purpose of the game is to locate and reunite the fragments of the Seal of Calum. Due to a breakdown in security, the seal was smashed into four bits by a servant of the Great Enemy now being free to carry on business as usual, snuffing out galaxies, vesting pain and misery on mankind in the customary way.
Having located the pieces you have to persuade the owners to give them up.
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