Blade Warrior logo

Journey back in time to the days of the black-and-white movie - that's the graphics - then journey back further to the days of warriors, wizards and witchcraft - that's the game scenario. A fantasy hack-n-slay adventure in a twilight, silhouette world of a once peaceful land under siege. The evil Murk rules the land, humanity's only hope lies with the sword-swinging, spell-binding knight named Blade Warrior.

Seven shattered pieces of an ancient tablet lie scattered across the land. Piece them all together, and maybe - just maybe - the evil curse can be lifted. It is known that a sorcerer will trade the completed tablet for a spell that will enchant your sword. With this power, the evil Murk can be defeated. But first you must find the fragments.

The playing area is displayed on a map, a series of paths interspersed with the towers of the wizards. Large gates mark the entrance to new paths, allowing our two dimensional hero to interact within a spooky 3D landscape.

Delia Smith's Cookerey Curse
Along the way, you find artifacts that can be used as the ingredients of magical spells. Take these back to your tower, and it's time to double, double, toil and trouble. Blade Warrior comes complete with a foundation course in magic. He doesn't know many spells, but trade some of your ingredients with some of the other wizards and you'll find it's amazing what you can learn.

Back out in the field, spells 'you prepared earlier' can be quaffed to imbibe our hero with qualities that the marketing men at Lucozade would kill for. Restore your health, strike down your enemy - 10 different acts of Paul Daniels-style trickery are just a function key away - just like that.

Trading with the other wizards is the key to success. There are a total of 14 artifacts found lying around. By all means use some of them for your own spells, but keep the remainder safe. Wizards are never the most securely hinged of people, and some of these guys will let a valuable tablet fragment go for all sorts of unlikely barter. The wizards also runa keen line in public transport. Borrowing a flying dragon for a shoot-'em-up dash back to your own tower is perfectly par for the course, and also provides an aggro-free(ish) trip home.

Some paths are decidedly more dangerous to go along than others and so any chance to avoid them should be grabbed at all costs - there are some seriously dodgy characters out there! Try and save your position fairly regularly and learn which paths are safe and which require a heavy payload of spells to ensure a mortal exit.

Black-and-white and red all over
The graphics are simple, but murderously effective. Evidently the designers behind Blade Warrior cut their teeth in the world of film animation. It shows - just wait until the skies turn red as you cross paths with the evil Murk himself. The silhouette display is an ingenious solution to the detail-versus-action compromise that dogs so may games.

A haunting graphical atmosphere is complemented by chilling effects. The sword-fodder sprites look fantastic and our hero cuts his swathe with a real sense of action, although too much action on-screen slows the marching pace to a crawl.

The hack-n-slash gameplay tires quickly, but the sense of adventure and the rewarding implementation of spells keeps you going. Blade Warrior comes highly recommended to the adventure novice - hardened hackers will find themselves wanting just a little more.

Schattenkampf mit Murk(s)

Blade Warrior logo

Satte zwei Jahre ist es nun her, daß Image Works diese Fantasy-Oper erstmals für den Amiga ankündigte - da fragt man sich natürlich, was die Jungs wohl so lange aufgehalten hat...

Die Story kann es ja nicht gewesen sein. Hier unterdrücken bloß wieder Dämonen das einst glückliche Volk: sobald der Oberwiderling Murk einen Kopf kürzer gemacht wurde, ist der Spuk vorbei. Na denn, schnappen wir uns halt unser Breitschwert und begleiten den Helden durch die horizontal scrollende Landschaft.

Sinn und Zweck, der Wanderschaft ist es, die verstreuten Reste einer mythische Steintafel zusammenzuklauben, deren Zauberkraft den Endkampf mit Murk erst ermöglicht. Freilich geht die Reise nicht ohne Rangeleien ab, das eine Bildschirmleben ist schnell dahin.

Bei massiveren Gegnern wie Vampiren und Mumien ist es daher ratsam, gelegentlich den strategischen Rückzug anzutreten - wer sich nur auf die vier Schlagvarianten des Joysticks verlässt, ist bald verlassen! Immerhin gibt es unterwegs 14 verschiedene Fundstücke zu entdecken, aus manchen davon können hilfreiche Zaubercocktails gemixt werden.

Andere wiederum sind prima Tauschobjekte für die ortsansässigen Magier, die auch die Fragmente der Steintafel aufbewahren. Ja, und damit man sich unterwegs nicht verirrt, erscheint auf Tastendruck eine Übersichtskarte.

Musik gibt es keine, aber recht knackige FX. Egal, der eigentliche Gag dieses Actionadventures ist ohnehin die Grafik.. Bis auf ein paar Kleinigkeiten sind Sprites und Hintergrund immer nur als Schattenriß zu sehen! Das ist bestimmt nicht jedermanns Sache, genau wie der etwas kruse Spielablauf - bei der Wartezeit hätte man sich mehr erhofft... (rl)

Blade Warrior logo

First advertised, it seems, around a year ago, Image Work's unusual looking Blade Warrior at last arrives on the Amiga. The only question is, does it work?

I 've been having real trouble putting this review together, I can tell you. The first version (since deleted) was absolutely euphoric - Blade Warrior is one of those games that intoxicates you with atmospheric graphics and sound, making it easy to imagine that there just has to be a corking game underneath it all.

After putting in a few hours of overtime, however, I began to have my doubts. The basic front end was okay, but the 'game' part of it - all the interaction with other characters, spells and so on - seemed a bit thin, a bit superficial. So I wrote another review to that effect.

Then I played it some more (just to make sure) and started really getting into it again. Or at least, I think I did. So I scrapped that review too. And now, with a blank page in front of me again, well... um... to tell the truth I'm just not sure whether I like it or not. It has its strong points - the very unusual graphics style for a start - certainly, but just as it seems to be starting to grip, it doesn't. And then it does again. I know, I'll tell you a bit about it while I have another think.

One thing I do know is that it's one of those 'do the graphics and then try and work a game around them' jobs. And the graphics, it has to be said, are brilliant. They're done in an incredibly spooky silhouette style, so, rather than being packed with colour, everything's just black on a pale, pastely background. It might sound like a bit of a cop-out, but the amount of detail that's been crammed in, combined with some quite beautiful animation, a few stunning backdrops, a bit of parallax scrolling, and some really weird sound effects creates an audio-visual, um, 'experience' that's quite unlike anything I can remember seeing before.

I can also say for sure that for the most part the game is a scrolling beat-'em-up, shadow puppet-style. You're 'Blade Warrior', and you can roam backwards and forwards across the landscape, up and down hills and over bridges, hacking away at any baddies that leap at you from the bushes. These range from weedy (but nonetheless pretty frightening) giant spiders to trolls, skeletons, vampires and lots more.

It's one of those "do the graphics and work a game around them" jobs

Occasionally you'll come across gateways which lead to other paths. (The paths all join up into a big map, a picture of which can be called up by pressing 'M'). The pathways near your start position are populated with the softer baddies, but things hot up as you get further into the game, meet stronger baddies and (hopefully) become more and more powerful yourself.

From then on things get a little hazier. There's this plot, you see: the world has been enslaved by the evil Murk and you've got to free it by collecting the seven fragments of a tablet which are in the possession of seven wizards who live in seven towers. It's a bit crap, isn't it?

What it means is that co-existing rather uncomfortably with the beat-'em-up element is an adventurey one, where you've got to collect Artefacts and give them to the right wizards in exchange for bits of tablet. You can also trade other things with wizards, possibly in exchange for clues. The Artifacts are also quite handy for boosting your powers, so don't give them away until you really have to.

Co-existing rather uncomfortably with the beat 'em-up element is an adventurey one

And then there's the magic side of things. As you wander around you'll come across ingredients which you can take back to your tower, pop into your cauldron and cast spells with. As long as you've got the recipe, that is. You start off with two of these, and more can be obtained from wizards if you can work out how.

While this is all very well, the question is whether these two completely different types of game have been brought together successfully. After some serious playing I reckon they have - just about - although it's still not completely satisfactory. Beat-'em-up fans might consider all the spells and things to be superfluous, while those who'd prefer to concentrate on solving the puzzles may well get annoyed at constantly getting jumped by baddies.

A couple of other things to consider; there's no scoring system, so progress has to be judged on how much of the adventure you've pieced together, and there are a few little glitches, like the scrolling suddenly slowing down for no apparent reason, and spells remaining on screen after they've been used. Nothing too worrying though.

Me? I eventually decided that I was quite enjoying myself, and wouldn't mind splashing out on Blade Warrior at all. If nothing else, it has to be seen.

Blade Warrior logo

It's time to oil the rusty chain mail and suit of armour to go clanking around the countryside looking for foes to slaughter. In the golden days of yesteryear, the land of Joy was a happy and carefree place to live. But, if circumstances always remained the same, what would we do for an exciting story line?

Enter Murk, an unsavory character who is without a single good bone in his entire carcass. To defeat Murk, you must explore the fantastical world of Blade Warrior, slaying monsters on your travels. Your quest is to collect artefacts and spell ingredients in order to barter with wizards. They will help you to attain the seven tablet fragments to trade with the Sorcerer who can enchant your sword. And why go to all this trouble, you may ask? Like werewolves who can only be killed with a silver bullet, Murk can only be slain with an enchanted sword.

Your journey starts outside the tower from which you create the spells which will aid you in the tasks ahead. The labyrinthine area to traverse is crisis-crossed with archways leading to different locations. It is very easy to lose your own map is an an extremely sensible thing to do.

As a quick reference guide to your location, go to the Map Screen, which will keep you aware of the direction you are traveling in. Even more important, the map will show you the whereabouts of Murk who eerily skulks around, waiting to pounce on you!

The landscape is a nightmarish mix of swamp and entangled forests. The graphics seem to draw a heavy influence from film animation or shadow puppets as the backgrounds and characters are black silhouettes. The monsters range from troll-like gremlins to giant spiders.

Each requires different attacking moves to destroy them. The best strategy is to move into the body of the beasties and launch an enthusiastic attack of overhead slashes and low thrusts.

Murk lurks in the undergrowth, silently awaiting you to be off guard. Luckily, there is forewarning of his approach as the weather turns nasty and the sky burns red. The duel with Murk seems surprisingly easy. A few lightning-quick stabs and parries with the rapier and he's down. Unfortunately, the beast arises from the dead as he can only be written off with the aforementioned enchanted sword.

Keep alert for spell ingredients which litter the ground. Among the items to watch out for are frogs, skulls and fireflies. Once you have collected enough spell ingredients, go to the spell screen and start cackling over the cauldron. Up to 16 spells slot (the Function keys). Once you run out of spells it's back to the laboratory to boil up some more. Watch out Fanny Craddock!

Visiting the seven wizards is not only an essential part of Blade Warrior but also one of the most enjoyable sections. Entering the magicians' towers. You can converse or trade in spells or artifacts with them. These recluses can be surly but their rudeness is worth putting up with, for without their help it is impossible to complete the arduous task ahead.

Once your dealing with the crabby wizards are over, it's possible to hitch a lift on their dragons which will take you back to the home tower. The ride home takes on the attributes of a shoot 'em up, as you must kill the harpies that plague you on the journey.

Blade Warrior is an exciting addition to the adventure genre. The gameplay is lively and enhanced by the sounds of swishes and clanking of the sword fights. On the detrimental side, the silhouette effect tends to become monotonous and is slightly disconcerting as one never sees the character's faces in detail. However, a very lively and entertaining romp in a mythical land where things go bump in the night.

K N I G H T     A L L !

The image of the knight as a great fighter holds much strength. But is it true? Suits of armour could certainly protect the body from terrible blows of the mace and chain. But once the knight was toppled over, he was rendered defenceless as the armour was so heavy that help was needed to get him upright! Another difficulty concerned bodily functions. However, with a double-edged axe coming towards an unlucky knight, that was probably the least of his worries!

H E     A I N 'T     H E A V Y

The heaviest armour in the world belonged to WIlliam Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester and was made in 1570. It weighed an amazing 37 Kg, which is the equivalent of carrying the largest species of monkey on your back.

Blade Warrior logo

Image Works/£25.99/Out Now

Amiga reviewBen: You all know the scene: "The flames burn dimly as you set out to conquer the evil Murk, armed only with your sword and a pair of spikey trousers..." Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? Yes, you've guessed it - Blade Warrior is another slice of sword-and--sorcery gamery.

You play a warrior who has to nip around a forest killing a few monsters while collecting some spell ingredients for a bunch of magicians. In an effort to set the game apart from the crowd, all the action takes place at night, with only moonlight to guide your way - spook!

The graphics for this nocturnal scene look rather good at first, with everything shown in silhouette against a moonlit background. You can scroll smoothly through the first three levels, wandering through the forest picking up every toad that comes your way. But once your little black warrior gets into a combat situation, you suddenly find yourself behind a big black tree, so you can't see what on earth is going on.

Even though you can jaunt around the forest via teleportal gateways in your search for the magicians' hang-out, everywhere begins to look the same after a while. There's no real depth to Blade Warrior, and even fighting the monsters isn't great fun. With all the black graphics knocking around, you can't see the wood for the trees!