Bane of the Cosmic Forge logo

Damn and blast. That's what they must be thinking at Sirtech. Here's a great game with some pleasant touches, an easy-to-use frontend and the weight of the Wizardry series behind it for added zip, but SSI have released Eye of the Beholder II first.

And lots of them too. Yes, Bane of the Cosmic Forge is packed with rats, bats and thuggish types all of whom are set on stopping your party's progress through the doomy old castle in search of the Cosmic Forge, a pen-like instrument with which to make the universe a nice, or horridly horrid place to be.

The control system is a joy to behold with movement achieved by clicking on a small box to the left of the screen. This gives you either Turns (moving your body to face in the right direction, rather than the paper-based movement or action turn system) and Moves. Once you've mastered this you can proceed to get utterly lost in the various levels of the castle.

While control is simple, combat is too simple, in fact it's a let down. We return to the paper-based 'Elfric swings at bat with longsword of Doom. Misses', 'Giant bat bites Elric. Hit. Five points of damage. Elfric is dead' level of suspension of disbelief. By the way, I have never worked out why the rest of the party have to carry a corpse with them later he or she has been killed by the Grateful Undead.

This combat system, unlike EOTBII's real-time attack and defend, smacks of some short-term, unambitious thinking which is a good shame because the rest of the game is so good.

Choosing your party is intuitive enough - a hard disk makes the affair far less harrowing. There's the usual process of picking your elves and mooks, humans and mages, all your medieval European sorts, plus a ninja and a samurai! Well it is fantasy isn't it?

You set your chaps up with skills, strengths and staminas, names and portraits before adding them to the party, and then you enter the castle and save the game. With a hard disk this whole process took about 15 minutes for a four-person party. With floppy it was half an hour. It is also a good idea to hit the castle with a maximum of six characters, and make sure at least three of them are good fighters.

Trolling around the castle means ordering your party: fighters at the front, mages at the back pleas, resting at the right times and sorting out your equipment. And yes, it's back to the irritating, paper-ported equip yourself before fighting ethos. Arghahgh! You have to remember to tell your people what shoes they are wearing, what armour they have and to use your sword when fighting a robber who is set on cleaving your head from your shoulders.

It's a shame this line of thought was taken by the programmers who could have made all the tacky, train-spottery stuff background functioning and got on with making the most of the excellent scenery and atmosphere.

The sound effects add to the feeling that you are trapped in a castle trying to find a Cosmic Forge, they also add to the feeling that you are trapped in a computer game. Does anyone really say "Ouch!" when attacked by a blood-sucking thingie? I think not. If only SSI hadn't come up with EOTBII eh? (Lucky that US Gold distributes both games).

Bane of the Cosmic Forge logo Amiga Joker Hit

Die Jungs von Sir-tech haben ihr Herz für abenteuerlustige Amigianer entdeckt und in Windeseile ihr neues PC-Rollenspiel umgesetzt. Ma ja sein, daß dabei die Grafik etwas zu kurz gekommen ist, aber mit der Nachtruhe dürfte es vorerst trotzdem vorbei sein...

Im sechsten Teil der hierzulande relativ unbekannten "Wizardry"-Serie gilt es, eine Art magischen Bleistift aufzutreiben - den "Cosmic Forge". Alles, was mit diesem Gerät niedergeschrieben wird, geschieht auch in Wirklichkeit! Was liegt näher, als sich in den verlassenen Adelssitz zu wagen, in dem das Teil vermutet wird?

Zunächst muss man aber eine sechsköpfige Party zusammenstellen: Elf Rassen stehen zur Auswahl, die 14 verschiedene Berufe erlernen können. Die Charakterwerte verteilen sich fest nach Rasse, Geschlecht und Beruf; meist hat man aber noch ein paar Bonuspunkte zur verfügung.

Im nächsten Zug werden Skill Points für besondere Fertigkeiten vergeben. Die magische Zunft (Alchemist, Mage, Priest und Psionic) hat pro Zauberkünstler anfänglich zwei einfache Sprüche zur Wahl, im Spielverlauf können bis zu 77 weitere erlernt werden, die sich in sechs Bereiche unterteilen.

Übrigens können fast alle Charaktere ein bißchen zaubern, und selbstverständlich kostet jede Anwendung eine bestimmte Menge an magischer Kraft.

Das Spiel beginnt im Erdgeschoss des verruchten Gemäuers. Man kann sich über die zahlreichen Treppen nach oben und unten vorarbeiten.

Gesteuert werden die Mannen (manchmal etwas umständlich) per Maus und Menüs, die Tastatur kommt nur selten zum Einsatz. Das Abenteuer wird in einem relativ großen Sichtfenster präsentiert, am oberen Screenrand gibt es noch einige Icons, die je nach dem erreichten Fortschritt aktiviert werden (z.B. ein Kompass).

Trifft man auf ein paar der zahlreich vorhandenen Monster, wird nach dem "Bard's Tale" Prinzip gekämpft, allerdings ausgefeilter und komplexer. Erschlagene Feinde bringen Gold und Erfahrung, begegnet die Party einem Non-Player-Charakter (NPC), geht aber Reden vor Kämpfen. Und wenn z.B. ein Tür geöffnet werden soll, steht sogar ein kleiner Geschicklichkeitstest am Programm!

Da man ständig durch 3D-Dungeons stolpert, erinnert die Grafik natürlich an "Dungeon Master" nur leider wurde sie original vom PC (EGA) rübergezogen - trotz der (rückelig) animierten Monster darf man also keine Offenbarungen erwarten.

Auch die Sound-FX sind kaum der Rede wert, und dennoch erzeugt das Game eine unheimlich fesselnde Atmosphäre! Vielleicht liegt's ja an den stimmungsvollen Screentexten? Allerdings wird dem Spieler hier einiges an Englisch-kenntnissen abverlangt, mit dem dicken (ebenfalls englischen) Handbuch tut man sich gottlob etwas leichter.

Wer die Geduld aufbringt, sich in ein komplexes Programm einzuarbeiten, findet in Bane of the Cosmic Forge ein rundum fesselndes Rollenspiel mit vielen harten Rätselnüssen. Daß man auch noch den Schwierigkeitsgrad selbst bestimmen darf, macht den Hit perfekt!(jn)

Bane of the Cosmic Forge logo CU Amiga Screenstar

If a shady character sidled up to you and tried to sell you a game which was released in 1990, the chances are you'd tell them to get lost. Tony Gill checks out the exception to the rule...

'The consoles are coming! The consoles are coming!' From every rooftop the cry can be heard, and it's getting louder. Marching westwards from the Land of the Rising Yen, a mighty army of cheap, super-fast game consoles is bearing down on the Amiga, threatening to drown in under a tide of leaping, beeping, multi-coloured sprites. And what secret weapon do we have to resist the likes of Mario and the rest of his wily Orientals? A seemingly dated role-playing game which, despite being two-years old, is only now makings its official appearance in the U.K. But wait! Can it be true that despite the later arrival, this box of tricks can prevent us all being turned into finger-twitching zombies and save the Amiga? Who can tell, but it's sure going to have a go!

How can a role-playing game save us from the curse of the consoles? Basically, because its five disks come crammed with features and it also has a depth which cannot be matched by a cartridge. Bane allows the player to create a team of six heroes/heroines and mould them to your satisfaction. You can name them, select their portraits, choose their race, profession, and sex. You then train them, nurture them, and eventually lead them through endless battles and cunning plots.

This is the 'hook' which RPGs have - the ability to get the player involved with their own creations. If you think an arcade player looks angry when he looses his last life on level six, try sitting next to someone playing Wizardry when his Thief takes a fatal blow from a vampire Bat.

You may not be aware of it, but the Cosmic Forge is, in fact, the forerunner to a humble Biro. Scribble a few lines with this magical pen and whatever was written with it would eventually come true. However, it grew to be so powerful that, just as things started to get interesting, some do-gooders locked it up in a bottomless dungeon and threw away the key. They then decided that perhaps they were being a little hasty and consequently needed someone to get it back for them. This is where you come into play, along with a freshly-picked party of six heroes.

Obviously it's going to be a far from easy task, and the Dungeon is full of monsters with bad attitudes, and also equally full of mazes and traps. Luckily, not everything is against you, though. Just in case you are feeling underwhelmed about the honour of being first to step into the darkness, the game is furnished with an arsenal of 400 useful items to help you beat soe respect into the overfanged dungeon denizens. There are also a mind-numbing number of spells with which to conjure up both soothing balms and blasts.

Although the main screen looks like that other golden-oldie - Dungeon Master - during combat, Bane isn't played in real time. Each encounter with the enemy takes place over a number of combat rounds, and these continue until someone emerges victorious.

Prior to each round, you are given all the time you need to decide which course of action each of your team will take in the next clash: Thieves can hide, Wizards cast spells, and Fighters slash. Having issued your orders, the round plays automatically with the battles displayed within the main screen. The animation is a little jerky, but monsters bob and weave, and the fireballs explode in digitised splendour.

As the enemy can be made up of a number of different monsters your team can be ordered to attack individual monsters which you deem to the most dangerous - let's face it, you don't swat flies when you are up to your waist in crocodiles! Although the idea of planning each round seems dated compared with the real-time hack 'n' slash action of say, Eye Of The Beholder, it is equally exciting.

Having made your decisions, you are then a helpless spectator to the results of your action, much like a general commanding his troops form the hills above a battlefield. If your whole strategy rested on your Bard singing a magical song which would immobilise the large-fanged beast in the corner while your other troops beat up his little brother., it comes as a bit of a sickener when you are told that your magical Pavarotti hit a wrong note and screwed up. All you can do then is bit your lip and hope that those fangs are not as sharp as they look.

In addition to the combat sequences, the game contains puzzles which must be solved, too. On entering some areas, a paragraph of text will appear with a description of anything magical within the room. You may also be informed of any possible traps of exits. Additionally, it's not only monsters which prowl these dank corridors, wandering peddlers with packs of goodies wander aimlessly and will sell you a new sword or a nugget of information - in addition, this system also doubles up as the game's password protection and slots in incongruously.

The mysteries of Armour Class and Charisma points are something of an anathema to the mainstream game player. Try using a table of statistics to illustrate how interesting a role playing game can be, and the average punter's eyes will glaze over immediately - and rightfully so.

Anyone whose soul craves excitement deserves stronger meat than columns of numbers to inflame his imagination. Happily, Bane keeps such important, but initially boring, detail in the background. It's only when you have succeeded in beating a number of monsters, and you're feeling quite pleased with yourself, that you are informed that you are now in a position to distribute any freshly-accrued bonus points amongst your victorious band.

The easily manipulated menu allows you to flip through a few tables and then increase a few of your party's individual skills - more magic for a Wizard, for example. As time and victorious battles pass, you'll start to appreciate the finer detail of the game and distribute your largess to the people who will benefit the mission best. Under your growing awareness, your men's skills grow and your knowledge of the capabilities duly expands.

When creating your part of si heroes you have over 11 races of characters to choose from and more than 100 spells awaiting your perusal. Compare that with Dungeon Master's 23 incarnations. Whilst hardened RPG fanatics will spend valuable time building a balanced party, the novice player can ignore a lot of the 126-page booklet included with the game and choose some of the more obvious team players.

However, time will show that a carefully-chosen Bard can also progress to being a clever Thief and a hard-hitting Lord may look just like a simple fighter, but with a push in the right direction can become an essential backup to your Priest when things get tough.

Apparently, the game's ending features a nice touch where there are multiple exits from the dungeon. Needless to say I haven't seen them yet as I'm still hacking my way through the monster's Kindergarten section on the upper levels, but I am reliably informed that one of the ways out involves a flight on a space-ship! So now you know what to do if your sleep is troubled with dreams of consoles. Stick a Wizardry disk into its game port and say: 'Suck on that!'


Bane is a jewel which shines brightest in the eyes of the true RPG fan, as it offers a full range of character races and professions of the player to choose from. The well-documented manual offers many easily understood examples of suitable heroes for you to choose from, listing their strengths and weaknesses. It is not essential that you pick a perfect 'A' Team, but it will double your enjoyment if you make use of the many options made available to you by this serious attempt to implement as much of the Dungeon Mythology as possible.


Coming from a long line of forest and cave-dwelling folk. Dwarfs also have a taste for any adventure. They are also small beings, but display a remarkable amount of strength. Their hearty stance and high vitality make them a natural for combat-related professions. Pious individuals, Dwarfs make great Priests. The Dwarf's robus body provides poison resistance while its heredity provides for magic and spell protection.

Concentrating on the wonders on the mind, the Psionic is a magic user who has developed mental powers to a level no other profession can hope to possess. Their spells have the ability to alter the mind, read it and mess about with it in general. They are both clairvoyants and divinators, who can focus all of their energies on their mental and magical abilities. Through this devotion, Psionics learn mental spells faster than any other profession.

Both an excellent fighter and a pious spellcaster. Lords are the true crusader knights of Wizardry. While their combat skills are the eir primary concern, the Lord's crusader interest in the divine Priest spells begins to develop around the third level of experience and helps to prvide the party with additional healing power it may need. Whether it be inflicting the damage or healing it, Lords are a great addition to any party.


The Wizardry series of games is the best kept secret in the British role-playing scene. The American Company's RPG hasve been at the top of the sales charts in the States and Japan for years yet they have never been distributed by a U.K. pub publisher. Sir-Tech started life in 1981 with a staff of four in a six-by-nine foot space rented in a novelty manufacturer's warehouse. In small computer stores around the country, their first Wizardry game was hanging in plastic bags from display racks alongside word processors and spreadsheets. Hardly any games were available for the early micros - after all, many reasoned, computers weren't made for games. And so Wizardy waited. Hoping someone would notice. Ten years and two million copies later, someone had!

The series won 25 international awards before Bane Of The Cosmic Forge appeared. Bane was voted the Best Computer Game of 1991 by the readers of the UK Strategy Plus magazine. It also received the German 'Power Play Aaward' in 1990. Additionally, during January, February and March of this year, the Japanese edition of Bane was ranked the second best-selling computer program in Japan.

In April this year, US Gold signed a deal with Sir-Tech's Vice president Robert Sirotek which gave them the U.K. rights to distribute a number of these games including Bane Of The Cosmic Forge, Classic Wizardry and, more importantly, Crusaders Of The Dark Savant. Prior to this arrangement, the Wizardry games could only be obtained through a few specialist importers which meant the games were generally more expensive than those being sold in the High Street.

D.W. Bradley is the author of three of the Wizardry titles - Heart Of The Maelstrom, Bane, and Crusaders Of The Dark Savant. He got into game writing by accident 10 years ago. During his musical studies someone told him about some computer software that could be used to orchestrate scores and then play them back on a computer. To enter and play his music on the University Mainframe, Bradley had to learn to program. One thing led to another and soon programming became yet another interest. Soon, like many other computer buffs, he began taking time off to write games on the computer much to the chagrin of the University's computer staff. By 1981, he had written his first professional game, Parthian Kings, a war game for the Apple micro which was published by Avalon Hills.

Following this, he joined Sir-Tech and his opening shot was the fifth in the Wizardry series - Heart Of The Maelstrom. Although it won a few industry awards, it was his next game - Bane - which won Bradley recognition as an author. Bradley said: 'When I'm writing a computer fantasy simulation it's like writing a book, but it offers all kinds of new possibilities as I'm not restricted by the traditional limitations. I draw my inspiration from fantasy, science fiction, detective novels, superheroes and life to weave my own tales that allow players to take part in an adventure. Having led role-playing games I wanted to adapt them to the computer to give the player more of a sense that he was involved with the story itself, and his presence had an effect on the outcome'.
Using his knowledge of computer artificial intelligence, Bradley designed Dark Savant to crate an adventure which takes them through an interactive journey filled with all manner of characters, lands, secrets and sorrows.

Even before its release, Crusaders Of The Dark Savant is attracting plenty of attention from the RPG fraternity. The company is boasting that they have managed to combine the depth and intricacy of their past games with all the latest developments in sound and graphics which modern computers can handle. The game will allow the player to import his characters and their skills from the previous Cosmic Forge game and, their entry point in the new game will be dependent on which of the alternative exits they left the previous one. The game will be available for the Amiga in the 3rd or 4th quarter of the year.
In the meantime, US Gold will be releasing Classic Wizardry, the first five games of the series - Proving Grounds Of The Mad Overlord, Knights Of Diamonds, Legacy Of Llylgamyn, Return Of Werdna and Heart Of The Maelstrom. English versions of these will be available in the next four weeks. It seems that Birmingham-based US Gold are very excited regarding their latest signing, and from what Bane Of The Cosmic Forge has shown us so far, they have every right to be.