Arcana is a new name in Amstrad software, and from what we've seen of this first game it could quickly become a big name. The game is very loosely based on all those Trivia board games, but uses the Amstrad's facilities far better than previous quiz games.
Instead of just relying on a bunch of silly questions to hold your interest, there's actually an absorbing game here too. It takes place on an 8x8 grid of squares, each in one of five different colours, four of which represent different subjects and the fifth a special square. Two, three or four players can take part, and the more players the better the action.
Each player controls a team of four warriors who start the game in one of the comers of the board. The warriors can be of four different strengths: Hercules, Cyclops, Minotaur and Satyr in ascending order of power. On each player's turn you have to answer a trivia question on the subject of the square your selected warrior is currently standing on. You're given four possible answers, and if you get it right then the warrior can move one square.
The aim is to destroy all the opponents'warriors by trying to move onto their square and thereby challenging them. The challenge is resolved by the two players trying to answer another question, the winner being the one who gets it right first. The loser has his warrior demoted a level and destroyed completely if it was already a Hercules.
Points are awarded for getting questions right; more points being given for the harder questions set when a warrior is in the form of one of the stronger beasts. Enough points allow a warrior to mutate into a more powerful form and therefore increase survival chances in challenges.
There are four ready prepared batches of questions, each containing over 500 questions. These are very cleverly put together and organised so that even if the same questions recurr the game still retains its interest through the need for tactics and speedy response.
There's also a very slick question compiler that allows you to put together your own question sets, and is easy to use. The version of the game we looked at still had to undergo final testing but the combination of excellent graphics, good questions, multi player action and tactical gameplay make this look very good indeed. It's a mile ahead of other trivia games so far and should prove the producers right in their aim of a big Christmas hit.
AMSTRAD ACTION n°12