Company: CSG Imagesoft
When I looked at reviews, I thought this game was going to be a Zelda take-off. Then, after seeing the demo, I thought it would be a Lolo take-off. Well, when I finally started playing it, I found out both guesses where wrong. This game is in a class of its own, because it manages to meld puzzles and action into a very worthwhile game.
The story revolves around Shadax a sorceror who witness the abduction of a kidnapping of one of those ubiquitous damsels in distress. Then, out of nowhere, an evil magician known as Morbius spirits her away to his stronghold, to use her body as a sacrifice and bring on the Solstice - a time when evil things begin their reign. Of course, you don't want this to happen, so you go into Morbius' castle, trying to find the Staff of Demnos - the only thing that can prevent the Solstice. One has to wonder what this Morbius guy was thinking by leaving this staff around, but I guess he has his reasons...
The strongest part of this game is its presentation. Along the way, you'll notice one thing - the music is nothing short of spectacular. Sure, there are only about two themes, but both of them rock. Especially the opening music; you'll swear this is coming from an SNES. The main music is not only very well done, but it's also long enough to endure being listened to for an extended period of time. The sounds are also very well done. I was extremely impressed with the sound effect when Shadax loses a life; it sounds downright magical. The graphics are also very well polished. Shadax is animated extremely well, along with the various enemies that litter the landscape. Again, you'll be surprised that this game was created right at the start of the NES' major upswing. The opening sequences are another excellently drawn portion of the game. Overall, this is about the closest a game can come to being 16-bit without such capabilities.
I won't lie to you: the 45 degree angle that this game is tilted on will complicate the play control a bit. But if you have Marble Madness (which I do), this shouldn't be much of a problem. Hey, if it's that bad, simply rotate your controller at an angle so you can visually see which direction you're headed in. Shadax moves very cleanly, but I can't help but think his jumps are a tad short, even with those boots you get early on.
The one main fault with this game is that you get five lives, and have to search for continues. This game could have been immensely enhanced if a password was available to track your position in the castle (which is humungous to say the least) and the items you've acquired. There are a number of spots where you'll need a lot of lives to get through successfully, and because of that you might get a bit frustrated every now and then. However, a nice featured is implemented near the game's end - once you find all six pieces of the staff, you become invincible to enemies. (And these include those nearly impossible spike balls that raise and lower in certain rooms.) This makes it a lot easier to try to find the ending room (which in itself is an odyssey)
Much of the frustration you might experience from the vastness and difficulty of this game will be overpowered by the great sense of exploration you'll have along the way. The game also keeps track of how many rooms you've explored and just what percentage of the game has been discovered. Pack a Game Genie with you and you can poke around the entire game with complete freedom. Add that to a glorious soundtrack and you have one heck of a game. It's a bit of a mystery why CSG Imagesoft didn't make many more games after this one.
|Play Control: ||
|Technical Score: 15
|Aesthetic Score: 17
|Overall Score: 76%|
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