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Yessir, the Price is right. Pilgs. Here be the latest from Level 9, featuring for the second time their new adventure system but with added sparkle and extra features. It's top of the list this month in terms of size, originality, and chart-topping challenge.

Just it. case you hadn't twigged. Level 9 are now boasting 1000 word vocabularies or. all their new releases, thanks to their new compression methods (giving over 50 per cent reduction). The parsers are also far more effective, allowing inputs like "Take all except the boozlbug, the byms, and the bantam, then go north and kill the slug'. The graphics and text now print simultaneously too. so you can interrupt the picture-drawing to move on to another location without having to hang around while the scene unfolds.

The effect of these innovations, already featured in Worm in Paradise, is to make the games vastly easier and far less tiring to play if you s:t a: Lie screen for hours on end. In addition, with POM, Level 5 have introduced three more significant developments

The first two involve extra commands, which are most helpful to the beleaguered Pilgrim. RAM SAVE and RAM RESTORE will save your game to memory instantly, so that you can instantly restore to a previous position. However I was disappointed to tine out that they would not work once you'd died, so saving to tape is still recommended every now and then. The OOPS command enables you to go back one move, useful if you've just regretted joining battle with a giant slug. Again, you can't use it to get out of terminal situations.

The final new development in POM is the introduction of 'independent characters These have been around the adventaring scene for quite some time now, ever since they first really gripped the punter's imagination in The Hobbit. In some games, for example Suspect by Infocom, the interactive character has become a whole game in itself, but this requires large amounts of memory or disc storage, so on tape-based games the characters are necessarily rather limited.

In POM there are various baddies to contend with. Some just attack you malevolently, while others can be communicated with if you have the right questions or commands to give. Commands are given simply by prefixing your input with the name of the creature, followed by a comma - e.g. WEREWOLF, EAT BREAKFAST. Quote marks are not required.

So there you have the raw bones of the program. The actual plot is a sequel to the very popular game Red Moon, which got the 'Adventure of the Year* award last year. Level 9 have always seemed more at home in the world of magik than the world of hi-tech and the Pilg is glad to see them concentrating on this area once again. In POM the Red Moon crystal is controlled by Myglar, who is using it to supplement his own life-energy rather than for the good of the people. Your task is to supplant Myglar and re-establish the benign influence of the crystal.

As plots go, this one isn't the most original of Level 9's efforts. However, the game itself is somewhat different in being almost exclusively about magik. Most of the objects in the adventure are fairly easy to find, but actually using them isn't a doddle by any means. There are 18 spells that you will have to master in order to outwit Myglar and at the beginning of the game you don't even know how to cast a spell, let alone where to find one or what to use it for.

However, after much exploration of the House of the Red Moon, in whose echoing rooms the adventure takes place, you begin to uncover meaningful inscriptions that will enable you to commence your magikal career. Most spells take the form of brief words that are inscribed in hidden places, and all require an object to act as a 'focus'for the spell before it will work.

The presence of magik or magikal objects is indicated in the program with the message 'Your sanity is shaken'. This refers to the title of the program, which derives from Pete Austin's belief that, in reality, magikal expertise can only increase at the pnce of one's sanity. You start the game with a sanity rating of 100 per cent and steadily sink deeper and deeper into mental confusion as your prowess as a magician grows.

You also grow older during the game far more rapidly than any doctor would recommend. You can avoid sinking into your grave before your time by touching a certain object, but I'll leave it up to you to find out which one. Age isn't your only problem either. The program gives you a stamina rating and this receives a severe beating every time you indulge in combat with a rattling skeleton, giant slug, or whatever happens to be blocking your path.

There are over two hundred locations, all with graphics. The graphics aren't much cop I'm afraid, but perhaps this is just a matter of personal taste. Certainly the Pilg has never made a secret of his dislike of Level 9's graphical style, but others are free to disagree. I find it rather lacking in definition and in POM I even felt that some of the pictures were misleading. One, for example, clearly shows a stairway leading down when there is in fact not one present in that location.

However, this game seems certain to keep even the most astute Pilgrims busy for quite some time. I plugged away for several hours and still hadn't uncovered more than half the locations, and the use of magik is a hard one to crack I've currently got only three of the eighteen spells under my belt.

The game definitely has a different flavour to that of most previous level 9 releases because of the independent characters. For the most part they exhibit satisfyingly varied 'actions'which give a greater illusion of reality. However, they do affect the style of the game you'll find that the most tricky puzzles tend to centre around how to deal with people or animals. The locations and objects aren't all that hard to find, but gaining access to them is difficult. All this makes for a slightly new style of adventure from a company we have all come to admire. It will leave you £9.95 poorer, but a richer Pilgrim in all other respects.


(c) LEVEL 9

Authors: Mike Austin , Nick Austin , Pete Austin
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft
Cover illustration: Godfrey Dowson

★ NOTE: include bonus poster.

★ YEAR: 1986


» Level  9-Red  Moon-The  Price  of  MagikDATE: 2010-06-02
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.