Infogrames £29.95 * Mouse, Joystick or Keyboard
So, you've got to find a Time Bird, huh? Not just any old avian, the Time Bird is able to slow time and speed it up. The reason why you have to find it is the time limit is a little on the tight side. Roxamma, daughter of the witch Mara, has to keep the god Ramor inside his conch-shell prison. Otherwise, in nine days time, the world Akbar goes down the tubes. Roxanna is a spell caster, and is sure that she will succeed, if she can find the ingredients for a mighty incantation. The game starts at the home of Bragon the Knight, a retired hero who you can recruit to your cause. It's a good idea, because his axe the Reaper can deal with some of the nastier inhabitants of Akbar.
There are two other possible recruits to the cause: Bulrog and the Unknown Knight. Each character has their own particular talents, and using the right person for the job is the key to success.
Travelling around Akbar is a doddle. A very pretty map screen is drawn, and a withered old gent (known as the narrator) moves a stick around various locations. Point to your destination, click on the mouse button, and off you go!
The lands of Akbar are known as the Marches. Each one has its own flavour, from the domain of the Snufflers to the March of a Thousand Greens. This latter place is not populated by brussel sprouts, but is in fact a forest.
Playing the game is a veritable feast on the old peepers. Each location has a background picture. Moving the mouse over these will reveal that some of the places are worth visiting (the pointer changes shape, from Rosanna's pet Furry to four outward arrows). Clicking on these locations will reveal a new place; perhaps a path through some caves, or some people to talk to in a crowded market.
Pressing the left mouse button will overlay a picture of your characters on the scene. Another button press on the relevant character will allow them to converse, charm or charge the person or place of your choice. You can also make the characters eat: you did get Bragon to bring a packed lunch along, didn't you?
There are lots of different places and people to visit. Sometimes a text box giving a narration will come up, and occasionally this includes a multiple choice response from you. The choice you make decides your future course in the game…
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The scenes and people of Akbar are captured very well, with some delicate pastel shading. Some water colour specialist has done very well on the Amiga, spending effort getting everything right. If you get a mount, you're also treated to a scrolling view of the map in the background. All in all, very pretty indeed. As for the sound, a continuous tune plays gently at the background, replaced with more appropriate background noise when you go to a specific location. The sound gives that extra storyteller touch which makes Time Bird special.
There are similar interactive fiction game available, but what Time Bird has is subtlety. It feels like a story is being read to you, and everything you do has some effect and influence on events.
Using a mouse is too fiddly, and I pity the people who prefer joysticks. Finding all the places to go takes time: why couldn't they have been more obvious? Time Bird won't keep you engrossed for months, but it's a quality Amiga game.
Amiga Format, Issue ?, 1989, pp.58-59