B eautiful graphics may be no guarantee of an excellent game, but they do help, and Firebird’s Golden Path has wonderfully detailed and atmospheric pictures aplenty. Despite the game being an ST conversion, taking place over these 40 beautifully illustrated screens, and there being no text input required at all, it plays more or less as a straight adventure, rather than as an arcade game.
You play Y’In Hsi, rightful heir to the land. Before you can become the emperor, however, you must traverse the golden path, in order to achieve true enlightenment. In your travels, you find objects, and meet characters with whom you must interact, help, or fight. Solve all the 50 puzzles concerning what to do with each character and object, and you get to light the sacred incense and take up your imperial duties.
Collecting and using the objects is controlled in icon fashion – a series of boxes at the bottom of the screen show what you have collected so far, depicts the Book of Knowledge, which describes each location as you visit it, and shows your current strength, indicated by a flowering vine, which is rejuvenated whenever you eat or successfully solve a puzzle. Let the vine wither and you die a premature death.
Playing the game is largely a matter of noting where objects are, exploring (it is all mappable) and working out how to use what you have collected. Hence the similarity to a conventional adventure. Y’in Hsi is also capable of a few basic martial arts moves to ward off immediately hostile characters, but this takes up a lot of strength and makes the flowering vine wilt at a remarkable rate. Beware, too, of hanging around for too long in any one location, or the improbably named Hoppy the Goblin appears and bites your ankles, which does not do too much for your strength either.
The puzzles vary from tricky but straightforward to very easy – if you have got a dragon with a thorn in his foot and a pair of tweezers lying around just a couple of locations away, it is not too hard to work out your next move. And your ability to progress is often determined by which puzzles you have already solved.
The gameplay, then, is very simple: a pictorial adventure game, and a program that will appeal far more to orthodox adventure fans than anyone else. However, it is an adventure dressed up in very fine clothes indeed. The mouse control and use of icons, once you have got the hang of it, mean that you can speedily move and manipulate Y’in Hsi and the objects in his pockets. The continual soundtrack is a classy oriental-style series of tunes with plenty of variation.
And the graphic backdrops are truly superb; lovely detailed scenes of budding mimosa bushes, ornate pagodas, animated flickering firelight, typically oriental looking landscapes. It all goes to make Golden Path probably the prettiest Amiga game yet. I have just one gripe on the graphic front – why did Firebird put the text location descriptions in dark blue on a black background?
CU Amiga, March 1988, p.p.82-83
Firebird, £19.95 disk, mouse only
ong ago, even before the Great Wall was built, China was ruled by its greatest emperor, Y'in Hsi - the Golden Emperor. Under his reign, China grew prosperous and many tales were told of him, but as time passed all were lost, with the exception of one: a single tome, entitled 'The Golden Path'. This tale tells of how Y'in Hsi was taken into the care of Buddhist monks at the age of two, when his home province was invaded by a neighbouring warlord, who pillaged the land and killed the boy's father in the process.
On Y'in Hsi's 16th birthday the chief monk tells him of a quest he must complete before fully joining the brotherhood of monks, who have become his guardians and mentors. After revealing the story of his father's death, he gives the boy a scroll, written by his father, together with his ring. Y'in Hsi wears the ring and immediately takes on what would have been the aged countenance of his father had he still been alive. The only way to free himself of the enchantment is to take on the quest for Enlightenment, and free the enslaved populace of his rightful kingdom.
Golden Path is an arcade adventure which follows Y'in Hsi on his quest through 37 locations, occupied by 20 characters, 40 'life' situations and 50 puzzles.
The player directs Y'in Hsi's path by moving the cursor appropriately and pressing the mouse button. Y'in can also be made to pick up, drop or use objects as well as being able to defend himself from robbers and goblins by kicking or punching.
To aid completion of the game, the program supports a game load/save option as well as the ability to restart a game from the last position, but at an increased difficulty level.
Zzap! Issue 36, April 1988, p.p.58-59