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Ambermoon Logo

Don't just look at the final score and then flip to the next page. Read what Steve McGill has to say about Ambermoon - he thinks it's important.

HMM, WHY DON'T YOU MAP MY TEXTURES?
The smart thing about dungeon/city/cellar romping is that, depending on the processor in your Amiga, you can switch on texture mapping for the ceiling, or the floor, or both. This adds to the atmosphere and makes you regret the primitive combat system.

 

Grandfather's cellar: Few textures
Doomed in Grandfather's cellar. This looks as good as the clones doing the rounds.

Grandfather's cellar: All textures
And now for the floors and ceilings. Rather smart, methinks. Now where's the gun.

EN GARDE
All control elements, including those for combat, are laid out in a modular fashion so that they only appear when relevant to the on-screen action and stage in the plot. This can be confusing at first, but you soon get used to it.

Direction panel
The direction of travel for the adventure party.

Action panel
You can look at, touch, feel, and map things from here.

Inventory panel
Drop, use, and pick things up. Mostly used in the inventory screen.

Combat panel
Combat: cast spells, strike with weapons, and then run away. Could have been better.

Ambermoon Ok, no messing about, Ambermoon is a top-ish adventure yam with pleasing aesthetics and an absolutely gargantuan play area. Even if you play it hard and long, it's still that completion will take over months of terrestrial time.

Ambermoon fulfils a set standard in adventure game, such as loads of spells to find and use, different approaches to set problems, multitudes of characters to be conversed and interacted with, and multifarious combat situations. As such, it will be bought and loved by enough people to make the title profitable.

But here's my heartfelt plea to Thalion, because it really did hurt to see such a potentially fantastic game be hobbled within the limitations of the adventure game genre. If the implementation of the plotline is going to be as cliched as this, please, oh please, oh please, oh please put in some innovative and interesting gameplay that's worth me telling Amiga Format readers about. Because what we've got here is a tale of infinitesimal woe. A tale of a game with three reasonably significant contributing factors toward an engaging adventure game, namely – great graphics, and excellent 3D-2D game engine, and an adequate control system, but a game nevertheless that doesn't work as well as it could. It feels like a lion that's been shackled by a donkey.

Ambermoon is the sorry tale of a potentially wild game that needs to be rethought and re-released using the current game engine as the heart of a new style of adventure game.

Mean and moody
Think about the potential in borrowing certain effects from the cinema. Explorations of cellars, cities and other creepily dark areas like dungeons could be enhanced endlessly if the music was made truly reactive to the on-screen action.
Something similar to the tunnel sequences in Jurassic Park, or a re-enactment of the tense 'searching' moments in a two-player game of Death Mask when you know that the other player has got the big gun, would be just about right.

Ambermoon Combat in the game needs to be made real-time too, or at least have the option to be real-time. Ambermoon has a fantastic, pseudo-Doom-like engine with lush, optional, atmosphere enhancing, texture enhancing, texture mapping built in. Real-time, Doom-ish flavoured, physical and magical combat, enhanced by cinematically styled reactive sound would mean that, even if your characters were poorly equipped, they might still be in with a chance of survival – unlike the primitive six square by five square, multi-click, chess based system currently installed. And while you were attempting to survive/conquer with said characters, the tension would be unbearable.

Make believe
The use of such cinematic tricks makes the whole gaming experience much more enjoyable, involving and believable for the gamer. Instead, Thalion have chosen the path of the adventure equivalent of a crossword puzzle – something to do on a Sunday when there's nothing else worth doing. And it's a damn shame.

Hopefully, the above doesn't sound as if I've been too hard on Ambermoon. It;s just that at this stage in the lifetime of the Amiga you need to offer than standard to perform well in the High Street, or to stimulate the interest of a typical Amiga gamer. Look at the sales performance of Super Skidmarks against all other computer formats and all other console platforms. It outsold everything else released at the same time.
Amiga owners are just about the best barometers of worthwhile, money spinning, innovative games that the games industry has, and it's time they all woke up to that fact.

Amiga Format, Issue 73, August 1995, p.p.56-57

AMBERMOON

Publisher
Thalion 0121 449 4464

Price
£29.99

Versions
A500/A600/A1200

System requirements
1 Mb minimum
(1.5Mb from hard drive)

Release date
June

 
Graphics   8 out of 10
Commanding in their aesthetic imperialism.

Sound   6 out of 10
The music tries to be atmospheric. But it's a bit cheesy, really.

Addiction   5 out of 10
No, I'd rather play something other than Ambermoon this month.

Playability   6 out of 10
Very playable as it stands. But see addiction above.

Overall verdict
A truly beautiful game that could have offered some trend-setting features, but unfortunately, didn't.

79%



Ambermoon Logo

Nie waren Amiga-Rollis so wertvoll wie heute: Seit sich der PC zum Dungeon Master aufgeschwungen hat, tröpfelt der Nachscshub für abenteuerlustige "Freundinnen" etwas spärlich - doch Thalion liefert jetzt den warmen Regen!

Ambermoon Bereits seit "Dragonflight" verfolgt die Rollenspiel-Abteilung des Gütersloher Softwarehauses einen ganz eigenen Fantasy-Kurs und beliefert uns Amigianer mit Games, die der mächtig magischen PC-Konkurrenz von New World Computing oder auch Lord Britishs ultimativen Britannicas auf ihre Art durchaus Paroli bieten können. Ein ums andere Mal kitzelt das Team um Erik Simon und Karsten Koeper das Maximum aus den technischen Möglichkeiten des Amigas, ohne dabei einzelne Aspekte der Gesamtkomposition zu vernachlässigen. Auch beim Nachfolger von "Amberstar" hat das Rezept wieder funktioniert, in Sache Spieltiefe braucht sich das Programm vor nichts und niemandem zu verstecken. Und die Story gehört ohnehin Thalion allein:

Siebzig Jahre nach den Ereignissen des ersten Teils der Bernstein-Trilogie trägt Lyramion ein neues Gesicht, denn der Absturz des dritten Mondes verwandelte den einstmals zusammenhängenden Kontinent in einen Archipel. Doch auch das ist inzwischen Geschichte, die Leiche von Bösewicht Tarbos wird unablässig mit magischen Bannsprüchen belegt, und es scheinen all-überall Friede, Freude und Heidelbeerjoghurt zu herrschen. All-überall? Nun, nicht ganz, denn in einem bescheidenen Häuschen nahe eines bescheidenen Städtchens ruft ein bescheiden mit dem Tode ringender Großvater seinen Enkel ans Sterbebett um ihm seine bösen Vorahnungen anzuvertrauen. Opa entpuppt sich als der greise Held aus "Amberstar", sein Nachfahre wird alsbald zum Retter des Lyramischen Inseln avancieren, und für die warnenden Träume des Alten zeichnet Shandra verantwortlich, ein ebenso mächtiger wie gutherziger von anno dunnemals.

Stop, müsste der Bursche inzwischen nicht längst die Geranien düngen? Müsste er eigentlich wirklich, aber was heißt bei einem Magier schon "eigentlich"? Und wie wär's, wenn Ihr hingeht und diese Frage selber klärt? Freilich wird Shandra so oder so noch eine ganze Weil auf Euch warten, schließlich gibt es hier viele Fragen zu klären, Rätsel zu lösen und Karren aus dem Dreck zu ziehen. In diesem Zusammenhang wäre etwa die Banditengang zu nennen, welche das nahegelegene Örtchen verunsichert, doch auch die im Umland marodierende Orkmeute ist nicht von schlechten Eltern. Dann gibt es irgendwo ein Nest von diebischen Feen, ganz zu schweigen vom verzwickten Weinkeller der Kneipe oder dem ausgedehnten Höhlensystem unter Granny's Hütte. Oder vielleicht interessieren Euch mehr die verschwundenen Hufeisen des Pferdestallbesitzers, die auf einer Nachbarinsel verschollene Tochter der örtlichen Heilerin oder die gelegentlich herumliegenden Spruchrollen, mit denen magische Abenteuer ihr Zauberrepertoire erweitern können?

Ambermoon So tastet man sich also Quest für Quest an die eigentlichen Probleme heran, erfreut sich an der dichten Story wie an dem sauber ineinandergreifenden Rätseldesign (das meist mehr als einen Weg bietet), strickt wie gehabt mit vielversprechenden NPCs eine schlagkräftige Party, zaubert in allen Lebenslagen per zauberhaften Auswahlmenü und läßt irgendwann sogar Lyramion hinter sich - nicht umsonst heißt das Game Ambermoon! Auf den beiden Monden unserer Abenteuerwelt gibt es nämlich ebenfalls eine Menge zu entdecken und zu erforschen, denn in der bizarren Flora des Waldmondes bzw. den ausgedehnten Wüsten und kristallenen Städten seines Kollegen harrt noch so manches Geheimnis seiner Entwirrung...

Wald und Wüste mögen als Stichworte für eine elegante Überleitung zur Präsentation dienen, und was die betrifft, ähnelt Ambermoon dem Vorgänger auf den ersten Blick wie ein jüngerer Bruder. Das Innerleben von Häusern und die Wilderniss präsentieren sich einmal mehr aus der Vogelperspektive, während die Dungeons und Städte in 3D erforscht werden. Beim zweiten Hinsehen wird dann allerdings offenbar, daß die Grafiker hier viel mehr Liebe auf die Wohnungsmöblierung und vor allem auf die Außenwelt verwendet haben. Der wirkliche Clou ist aber, daß die Verliese jetzt einen Touch von Virtual Reality à la "Ultima Underworld" bieten! Zwar ist der optische Eindruck etwas uneinheitlich (nicht so überzeugende Natursteinhöhlen tummeln sich da neben traumhaften Katakomben mit eingebautem Schaudereffekt), aber immerhin darf man kreuz und quer "herumschlagen" - die neuen Grafikroutinen machen alles in ordentlichem Tempo, wenn auch nicht ganz ruckelfrei mit. Durch die am 1200er zuschaltbaren Boden- und Deckentexturen sind B esitzer dieses Rechners optisch jedoch klar im Vorteil.

Amiga Joker Hit Für alle von Vorteil sind miet Sicherheit die bei der Handhabung erzielten Fortschritte: Obwohl grundsätzlich alles bei den alten Iconfeldern und taktischen Kampfscreens mit rundenweise Befehlsvergabe blieb, würden doch hier wie dort einige auf Dauer nervige Ecken und Kanten des Vorgängers abgeschliffen; zudem lassen sich die häufigsten Funktionen jetzt auch direkt per Mausklick aktivieren. Somit steuert Ihr Euren unter acht männlichen wie weiblichen Kandidaten auswählbaren Enkel also nunmehr rund und glatt durch das Abenteuer. Tja, bliebe nur noch der Sound, und hier erweist sich Matthias Steinwachs als würdiger Nachfolger von Guru Jochen Hippel. Ehrlich, selbst nach Tagen ununterbrochenen Spielens hört man seine diversen Melodien immer noch gern; läßt sich einem Musikus ein schöneres Kompliment machen?

Und noch ein Kompliment an die gesamte Thalion-Crew: Selten hatten wir einen Hit im Heft, bei dem durch das wohlbedachte Zusammenspiel so vieler Faktoren ein so harmonischer Gesamteindruck entstand. Mann, wir sind ja jetzt schon so gespannt auf den nächsten Teil der "ultimativen" Rollenspiel-Saga aus deutschen Landen! (jn)

Amiga Joker, November 1993, p.p.18-19

AMBERMOON
(THALION)
ECHTZEIT - ROLLENSPIEL

85%

"TRAUMHAFT"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
80%
72%
81%
  -
80%
88%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 109,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB (Disk) / 1,5 MB (HD)
9/JA
JA
SPIELSTÄNDE
KOMPLETT


Ambermoon Logo

Runs on: A1200
Publisher: Thalion
Authors: In-house
Price: £36
Release: Out now

It was a time of blindness, more like.

A Ambermoon nother RPG with very few redeeming features? Surely not. DARKNESS ENTERS YOUR PAIN-FILLED SENSES BEFORE YOU EMBRACE BALA'S REALM AS THE LAST MEMBER OF THE PARTY. IS THIS THE END OF ALL ADVENTURES?
I don't know about you, but there are some things in life that have always really annoyed the pants off me. Like that irritating way Fruit Gums get stuck around your mouth every time you eat a packet, forcing you to wipe your finger around your gums and look silly. And that in most RPGs, as soon as you die it's Game Over. Except that as you can save the game at any point, it isn't really so you have to keep saving in case you're killed off suddenly.

Take your first ten minutes of Ambermoon. If you accidentally walk into the fireplace (which includes walking past it and accidentally pressing Up), you're instantly burnt to death. Start again. But then, walk by chance into a particular fireplace and you unexpectedly end up in a secret room, and don't die. And there's some treasure chests inside, but if you open a certain one up, you die. AAAARRRGGH.

AS YOU ENTER THE DARK CELLAR ROOM THROUGH THE GATE YOU SENSE AN IMPERCEPTIBLE MOVEMENT SOMEWHERE ABOVE YOU AS YOU LOOK UP EXACTLY AT THE SAME MOMENT THE FIRST OF THE LARGE SPIDERS DROP DOWN ONTO YOU.

Ambermoon Then there's the irksome way that sometimes the hot water in your house runs out mid-bath so it starts filling up cold before you realise, forcing you to marinate in depressingly tepid water. And the way that the combat in most RPGs is really boring and takes ages even though it's pretty obvious who's going to going to win right from the start. Take Ambermoon's combat system. You plot your moves on a small grid. Moving left or right or back takes a turn so you can't move in either of these directions and attack in one turn, but advancing forward doesn't, so you can. Once you've set your move, bizarrely the computer takes its turn before yours has an on-screen effect. At one point I was trying to attack this spider, so I chose to move forward and attack. But the spider moved backwards before my character moved, hence it was out of range and I couldn't swipe at it. I advanced, it moved back. Stalemate. As far as I am aware there is no way of exiting out of the combat until one side has come out as a victor, so I just had to turn the game off and start again. HNNNNNNNGH.

A YOUNG MAN WITH A SEVERE WOUND ON HIS ARM SAYS: IT TRIED TO PROTECT MY FATHER AGAINST THE ORCS BUT COULD NOT FIGHT THEIR SWORDS WITH MY PITCHFORK. IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH COURAGE, YOU WILL FIND THE MOB OF ORCS OFF THE CAVES TO THE NORTH WEST OF THE FIELDS.

What about that advert which goes "After eating, dentists agree..."? What, so they can't see eye-to-eye while their stomachs are still rumbling, but stick them down in front of a prawn cocktail, and before the dessert arrives they'll all be best of friends? Eh? Is that it? Huh? And that most RPGs look dated beyond belief, play as originally as Jim Bowen's stand up routine, and are TEDIOUS BEYOND BELIEF. HMMMMMMMMM?

CALM DOWN
Actually, Ambermoon isn't that bad. It's divided up into two styles of play, cutesy overhead Zelda bits, and 3D Eye of the Beholder-meets-Doom bits. The Zelda bits are initially disappointing. "Hey - that's nice. It looks all consoley and user-friendly." You double blink at this point just to check that your eyes aren't deceiving you - your character jerks a hexagon at a time with no animation; to such a degree that you almost expect to find a tank around the next corner shortly followed by a miniature figure calling himself 'Napoleon'. The graphics aren't that cutesy either. The characters are too small and indistinguishable to have any real personality, while the scenery, instead of being all cartoony and out of proportion as it should be, is just small and gritty.

The Eye of the Beholder bits aren't much better. Well - to look at they're better than EOTB, because they're calculated in real time - hence the Doom reference. But everywhere looks a bit samey. And since everything of interest is shown on the map, and the graphics are so bland that you don't know where you are, you always have to call up the map every few paces any way. The 'go to' points (which allow you to teleport and hence save pooling about for ages) are nice though, so a swift it fleeting mention to those.

Ambermoon And here's where things come crashing dramatically down. Initially, Ambermoon is terminally dull. You walk around, doing Very Little in the Zelda bit. You then get to the EOTB bit, walk around a bit more, again doing Very Little and feeling bored. But then you get to the end of the cellar (the first EOTB bit) and get the gem you were looking for, and give it to your Grandfather (back in the Zelda bit) who tells you where to go next. And you actually feel that you are getting somewhere, and maybe it's not as bad as all that after all.

But what of the actual game? Well, let's not waste time with that yet. How about a mention to the control method? It's great. Fabulous. Fantastic. And only requires you to use the mouse. This hilariously effectual control gives you a real 'cup of tea in one hand, feet on desk' feel to the game, and I notice it's the first thing I'd written down under 'Good Things' in my reviewers-aid notes. The list ends there. Though, except for a margin note that I should test out whether the control method would be even more relaxing if I were wafted with a palm leaf and fed grapes by semi-naked female slaves; a situation I could faithfully recreate by getting Dave Golder (my house mate) to wave a newspaper at me while feeding me nice chocky biccies.

THE GAME, THEN
BUT IT IS. After a solid four days playing, I've explored a sizeable chunk of the map and have dipped my toes into the shallow end of the spell market. But I don't seem to have really solved any puzzles. I've been told to do stuff, and I've done it, but I'm yet to actually tune in to the contemplative side of my brain. Quite frankly, the thought of having to load up Ambermoon again even for long enough to make my screenshots for this review fills me with an unnerving sense of dread, Ugh. It's just another RPG with very few redeeming features.
Rich Pelley

Amiga Power, Issue 51, July 1995, p.p.52-53

Upper UPPERS
The control system is terrifically easy to use. It's got two totally different styles of gameplay.
Downer DOWNERS
But the Zelda bits aren't as good as even the most early Nintendo Zelda games, and the EOTB meets Doom bits aren't even as good as EOTB or the poorest Doom clone you've seen. The graphics aren’t much cop. The sound is non-existent. And there's just too great a feeling that you are following a step-by-step recipe than actually working anything out for yourself.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Gumph.

30

P E R C E N T

THE BOTTOM LINE
A500 Hopefully not.