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Level 9/Mandarin, Amiga 19.99

Lancelot R ight, you lot! Get ready for Chuck Vomit's special culture spot. Oi! Get that turkey leg out of your nose, you at the back. It's not every day you get your hands on a bit of learning from Vomit himself.
Cast your mind back to a land of myth and mystery. A time when Arthur ruled from Camelot, when the mystical powers of Merlin held sway and the virtuous queen was Guenever. A time when jousts and contests were held everywhere, when damsels relied on knights to free them from distress and nobleman's virtue was measured by his deeds. Into the midst of all this peace and harmony rides a knight called Lancelot. He is to become the greatest knight of the kingdom, he is to search for and gain a glimpse of the holy grail, and he is to betray his king on two counts once as his friend and once as his subject.

Level 9's adventure is divided into three parts. In the first, you're just a novice pipsqueak of a knight with a reputation to gain. Rescue enough damsels, knights and ladies and you might just make it through to part three and the quest for the Holy Grail itself.
It's all the more absorbing because the text gives you a constant indication of how well you're doing. If you behave dishonourably, you not only score minus points, but get called Lancelot the filthy, Lancelot the dishonest, Lancelot the cowardly and so on. Can't see what all the fuss is about myself what's wrong with lying, cheating and cutting people's head off? As for that other business Courtly Love. Bleuch! Count me out of that. All that mooning and sighing and wearing namby pamby ribbons! Yuk! Down here, if you're after a she-troll, you just bash her over the head with a billy-goat it's the only way to make her blush.

The packaging comes complete with a map, so if you can't be bothered to make a detailed plan straight away, you can launch right into the action and use the GOTO and RUN TO commands to visit any location named on the map. Play this way and you really get into the questing atmosphere.

Puzzles are graded in difficulty from the very easy to the pretty hard with all the usual emphasis on interaction. Also pretty much as usual, I reckon that this would be quite hard to get into if you hadn't come across Level 9 before. Although none of the tasks in the first part are all that demanding, there are so many redundant locations and so many possible starting points that it's quite hard to work out what to do first. Still that's something you could say about all Level 9 adventures, not just Lancelot. If you've played and liked all their other games, you won't care; if you haven't, try this out before you buy.

Oh yeah, the parser. Well, it's good but not that good. You can type in all sorts of really complex commands, speak and ask questions but over something as basic as ENTER TOWER, the program gets a bit confused; it only recognises enter any word that comes after just doesn't make sense.

Can't say I was bowled over by Lancelot when I first saw it (it takes a ten ton truck to bowl me over, anyway) but the more I got into it, the more I began to enjoy it. Well designed and unusually constructed, it really makes you feel as if you're riding around in a medieval world and you get some dead atmospheric graphics to boot, or should I say spur? Maybe I shouldn't. After the relative disappointments of Knight Orc and even Gnome Ranger Level 9 are really getting their act together. It makes a refreshing change to get away from all those cutey gnomes and bashful elves. In fact, I've always fancied myself as a bit of a knight errant: Sir Vomit, the Chuck noble gobsmacker and keeper of the honour of the Holy Shnot... Whaddya think?
(Reviewed by Chuck Vomit (Fictional Gnome dreamed up by the Zzap! Crew))

Zzap! Issue 45, January 1989, p.52