Spirited frolics with an iron maiden

Castle Master logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

CASTLES are nice things usually. Well I like them anyway. Giant monument to a proud history of sieges, imprisonment, death and horrible slaughter. Well, apart from the one in Tandragee that is. It's a crisp factory - makes the best crisps in the galaxy though.

The thing about castles is, according to Domark at least, they are inhabited by nasty spirits and kidnapped relatives. A selection screen at the start allows you to chose to be either a bloke or blokess, the other one being instantly transported to captivity by pigeon post.

The action is "filmed" in complete super-sexy Freescape, a technique that Incentive, the team that wrote the game, has been perfecting for quite some period of time, with famous titles of the past including Driller and Dark Side (which, unfortunately, was nothing very much to do with Pink Floyd).

The system seems to be running a little faster in this incarnation. There are also a few nice animation effects - a big step up from the jerky couple of frames seen previous efforts, though the "spirits" can be tricky to get a bead on.

The screen is split into a viewing area and a nice atmospheric border which doubles as a control panel. Almost all the functions you are likely to need can be found here, the rest are on the pop-up menu activated by clicking the title bar.

Simply clicking the mouse on the relevant arrows will move and turn your character, though I still found it's a lot easier to use the keyboard. It's nice to have the option though.

An annoying thing about the save game option is that although it works wonderfully well you must remember the name you saved the game under - there is no way of getting a directory. A bit of a shame if you have nearly finished but have a memory as bad as, er... mine.

On the puzzle front it is even more demanding than the previous works. There is a particularly cunning bit with a very large object, which has more than just the obvious use as it turns out.

There are a series of objectives, freeing your companion, killing the spirits, collecting treasure, for which other puzzles must be overcome like finding all the keys and pentagrams.
Overall this gives a more open feel to the game, leaning more towards the role-playing side of things, allowing exploration and stuff.

The sound effects are really quite good too, though the teeth did grate at the doors opening.
There are a series of nice touches, especially in the dungeon where you can play with an iron maiden or just get "tired and emotional" on the house red. Graphical detail is quite exceptional in places for a game of this type.

If you like previous Freescape games you're going to love this. If you didn't like previous Incentive stuff, you may find that you like this. If you don't like games at all, you'll probably find you like it anyway.

Castle Master logo

DOMARK/INCENTIVE £24.99 * Mouse or Keyboard

Has any member of your family ever been snatched by a 30-metre dragon and carried off to a wizard's lair? Well, it is the kind of thing that used to happen all the time in the Dark Ages, or so Incentive would have us believe in this all-singing, all-dancing, cheese-eating, Freescape spectacular.

Freescape pioneered 3D adventuring way back in 1988, when Driller utilised solid geometric blocks to create an arena you could walk on, crawl under and touch. It was inevitable that Incentive would eventually turn to the usual adventure fare of castles, wizards and ghosts.

Legend (and the title sequence) has it that your twin has been nabbed by the aforementioned dragon and stashed in Castle Eternity. So you set out to conquer the fortress armed with your wits, courage and a handful of rocks with which to 'kill' any ghosts you meet on the way. This may not be the world's most desirable arsenal but it will do.

The castle comprises four towers, each with three levels. Throw in a catacomb maze and a gate-house or two as well as sundry other essentials like a chapel and you have hours of frustrating entertainment guaranteed.

The first priority is staying alive - not as simple as it sounds. There are three things that any sussed knight should know. Eating plenty of cheese - huge wedges of Cheddar are everywhere - keeps you strong, falling in or off things is fatal and when you bump in the night the ghoulies drain your strength quick.

The game is controlled either from the keyboard, or by mouse or joystick. Two sets of cursors (direction and aim) appear on screen together, which means your first few steps are faltering. The icon controls are fine for rapid strides or swings in one direction, but they lack the response for fine movement, so keys are the only option for close control. And you will need to walk tightrope like catwalks - one slip and you are gone.

Naturally, it is not feasible to burst in, grab your bro's or sis' and bug out - that would be too easy. First you have to find the right keys to open the right doors. A monumental task in itself, because the darned thigns are not labelled. And there are more mysteries to solve en route, too, if your quest is to end in a reunion and not in a morgue. Strange 'pentacles' have to be collected, while literally littering the place are unmarked potions that do everything from restoring strength to granting you the nifty ability of 'stone travel'.

To find the treasure, pentacles and keys means you have to look at, in and under everything - try performing a James Heriot on the back end of the horse and all you manage is to get an "aaaaeeugghh! " message.


The Freescape is better than ever, with fast movement in a clear, sharp landscape: yet it is no stunner. To keep the Castle motif alive grey and blue dominate the colour scheme. The result is markedly less spectacular than the golds seen in Total Eclipse. There is a sense of 'been there, done that', because solid 3D ain't the technical marvel it once was, and all the cheese in the world cannot change the fact.


Castle Master will quite simply have you running around for months. Castle Eternity is huge and crammed with enough apparently inaccessible rooms to provide a challenge to any true gamesplayer. The ability to play broher or sister adds longevity, as each character has different ablities: there are places she can squeeze through, but he has to crawl or take a different route. Luckily a save game option minimises the intense hair-tearing associated with sudden death.


Castle Master deftly overcomes two major stumbling blocks. Firstly Incentive have managed to produce a new game and not settled for Total Eclipse in grey. Secondly, they have survived the transition to the rather run-of-the-mill realm of dragons and dungeons by adding humour, riddles intricate conundrums.

A huge, interlinked puzzle, Castle Master demands mental dexterity, lateral thinking, mapping abilities and fast reactions to survive. The game does not exactly sprint ablong, but so what? The slower pace offsets the lack of instant amazement with a lasting intrigue and a real hook.

Castle Master logo Amiga Joker Hit

Daß die Freescape-Spiele gut sind, ist ja hinlänglich bekannt; aber daß das neueste Werk aus dem Hause Incentive fast die halbe Redaktion lahmgelegt hat, spricht schon für besondere Qualität!

Vielleicht liegt es ja daran, dass Castle Master als erstes Spiel für 16Bit-Rechner entwickelt wurde? Auf alle Fälle ist es wesentlich detailfreudiger als seine Vorgänger "Driller", "Darkside" und "Total Eclipse". Mit der Erforschung der über 100 Räume dürften selbst Profis einige Zeit beschäftigt sein!

Aber erst mal kurz die Story: Der Magister, ein 13.000 Jahre altes Urviech, hat das Schloss Eternity verflucht und alle seine Bewohner in ruhelose Geister verwandelt. Außerdem hat der Lump auch noch die Frechheit besessen, DEINEN Zwilling zu entführen. Gründe genug also, um im Schloß mal kräftig aufzuräumen! Als erstes muß man sich entscheiden, ob man Prinz oder Prinzessin mimen will (der Unterschied im Spiel besteht allerdings nur in der Wahl der Toilette...), dann geht es unter Donnergrollen und schaurigschöner Musik hinein ins Schloß.

Alles Wissenswerte wird auf der Benutzeroberfläche angezeigt: Lebensenergie, Anzahl der gefundenen Schlüssel und der vernichteten Geister, Richtungs-Icons für den einzuschlagenden Weg und den Blickwinkel. Man kann laufen, gehen, oder kriechen, und sobald einem ein Gespenst über den Weg läuft, schmeißt man ihm einen Stein an die ätherische Birne. Alle übrigen Aktionen wie Sammeln, Öffnen, Essen, Lesen etc. werden schlicht und ergreifend mittels eines einzigen Buttons erledigt! Gesteuert wird die Spielfigur wahlweise über Tastatur, Joystick oder Maus. Da kein Mensch diese Game in einer Session durchspielen kann, gibt es natürlich eine Save/Load-Funktion, und Musik-Müffel können jederzeit auf FX pur umschalten. Die Atmosphäre des Spiels ist unvergleichlich gruselig, die vielen Puzzles und Fallen halten zudem den Forschergeist ständig auf Trab (Kenner der Vorgänger tun sich natürlich etwas leichter). Castle Master ist wirklich genau das Richtige für Spiele-Action nach Mitternacht!

Trotz intensiver Suche konnte ich weit und breit keine gravierenden Minuspunkte finden, nur die Übersetzung der Bildschirmtexte hätte etwas "richtiger" sein können. Gleiches gilt für die deutsche Anleitung, mit der Sprachprofessoren sicher nicht so ganz einverstanden sein dürften. Ansonsten haben sich die Jungs bei Incentive große Mühe gegeben - man fragt sich, was uns wohl als nächstes erwartet, vielleicht ein 3D-Vektorgrafik-Rollenspiel? Ich und der Rest der Redaktion können Castle Master jedenfalls nur wärmstens empfehlen! (mm)

Castle Master logo CU Amiga Screen Star

PRICE: £24.99

Saying that there is a lot of exploring to do in Castle Master is a bit like claiming that Vindaloo is a hot dish full of tasy, tangy spices. The plot can be written on a postage stamp. There is a kidnapped prince or princess ot rescue and numerous towers to rummage through. But when you mooch around Castle Eternity the game system comes into its own, as you crawl under tables, run and see in first person perspective.

This is the first Freescape game to be developed specifically for 16-bit, and it is the first with a medieval-style theme. Freescape games have always had a mixed press. Criticisms range from the trite "Why can't there be a few more rounded edges?" to the more reasonable "well it is a bit on the slow side, isn't it?". The speed seems to have picked upa bit, and while the squares on screen won't make you stop and think "there is a crumbly old turret, if ever I saw one", you are drawn - quite literally - into every nook and cranny of this game.

The puzzles become harder as you progress into the game, unlike the menyu commands which are nicely ergonomic. A simple point/click of the mouse on the appropriate icon will allow you to take a whole range of actions from eating, reading, collecting, throwing, to moving the whole or just part of your body slightly or completely. En route there will be a number of spectres to slingshot, some of which are disappointingly easy to kill, and others which will try your patience.

Castle Master is just too short on either combat or strategy to appeal to either the regular adventurer or arcadester. On the other hand, if your taste is for a hybrid with a soundtrack so bolshy it can raise demons, then it is well worth a try. A success.

Zzap! Sizzler

Incentive/Domark, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

In times gone by, there have been many who so disliked a wit's style under the baud-walk that they did call him names. Now this original soul, Mel Croucher was his birth name, has confirmed their worst fears by revealing himself as a foul fiend who takes children under his stinking coat to tell them terrible tales, in painful rhyme with lines such as 'when sabre-tooth made take-away of man' and spells like 'Bejasus betamax bedamned'. His tale concerns one of those ancient demons which storytellers presume roamed prehistoric earth. This demon, Magister, was a sleepy sort of spirit until a castle was built upon his resting place. Once Magister awakened he did seek vengeance, but was at first so weakened by his slumber that the king of the castle could humiliatingly throw him out.

Soon enough though, Magister regained his power and threw all the castle dwellers into a deep coma, creating hideous ghouls from their fevered dreams. But the Magister wasn't satisfied with this revenge; he sought to make the whole of humanity pay. So he did roam far from the castle, in a smelly coat to discomfort the victims he told tales before murdering. His latest outrage has been to kidnap one of the royal family - the prince or princess, depending on which sex you want to play as the rescuer.

You have twenty-four hours to find your twin, hidden in one of the castle's four towers, before he or she is forever turned into a ghost. But before you can free him/her you must also destroy all the spirits haunting the castle - their numbers are indicated by the spirit level. As not all the ghosts are so stupid as to jump out at you, a fair part of the game involves opening chests and suchlike to find the more cowardly ones. To help you, there are three potions and ten keys to be found. As with the other Freescape games, there's plenty of 3-D puzzles and traps to strain your tactics.

You begin the quest outside the castle, and must find a way to lower the drawbridge to avoid the shark-infested moat. You are armed with a slingshot, and can run, walk, crawl, look all around, and even read plaques on the walls - providing brief, cryptic clues, The layout and structure of the game is different for the C64 and Amiga, with the former having the emphasis on puzzles while the latter has a few more arcade bits. The game can be saved at any time.

Phil King I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this game. I've never really got into the previous Freescape games, and after the superlative graphics of Infestation, Amiga Castle Master especially looks disappointing. It's also a pity the superb intro pic of the castle is spoilt by a mediocre selection screen, featuring an effeminate prince and a muscular princess! However once you actually get into the game it charm soon becomes persuasive. Details such as the manacles in the dungeon, the spit in the kitchen fireplace, and the bell in the tower really help to create a good atmosphere. Then there's how once weakened you can only crawl, the bizarre clues, and the slick way the controls work. The moving ghosts, unique to the Amiga, are undetailed and move slowly - but they rival anything in Infestation and show off the host machine. C64 CM compensates for the lack of moving ghosts with puzzles and hidden stationary ghosts which have to be spotted and shot quickly. By comparison with Infestation, Castle Master has less rooms and realism, but it's more fun, packed with many more puzzles and is very tough.
Robin Hogg I much preferred Total Eclipse to the previous Freescape games as the authentic period scenario gave it a believable atmosphere. The same applies to Castle Master only more so as the graphics are more sophisticated with detailed shading. Like the previous Freescape games, I prefer the 64 version as the simpler colour scheme is somehow more atmospheric. However, both versions benefit from the exploratory freedom which allows you to roam the castle at will. This means puzzles are never frustrating as if you get stuck you can always go to another tower and approach the problem from another angle. On the sonic front, both versions are good with continuous Ghouls and Ghosts-style tune, although I preferred the old Darkside music. All in all though, Castle Master is another excellent Incentive product, with well thought-out puzzles and those great 3-D graphics.
Scorelord Now you know what Stalag ZZAP! is like! Well almost: this castle's a lot bigger and much easier to roam around (lax security - tut, tut!). The puzzle gameplay is much less abstract (and hence more enjoyable) than the earlier SF games like Driller. The C64 game obviously can't match the Amiga's speed, the main problem is when you're under threat from a ghost and have to move fast - it's too easy to panic into pushing forward twice, say, instead of once. Practice soon puts this right, though, allowing you to fully appreciate this technically excellent product. All in all, for an utterly compelling quest which will take many weeks to complete, look no further!