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SSI/US GOLD £24.99 * Joystick or Keyboard

SSI continue their series of AD&D releases with Dragons of Flame, an action game (like Heroes of the Lance, the first release) set in a mythical world. It's 300 years since the gods abandoned the people of Krynn and as a result, Takhisis, the Queen of Darkness, has awakened some dragons and created an army of Draconians. Once her armies are victorious, she'll be able to rule the land. All that can stop her is a bunch of companions - led by your very own self.

The battle against Takhisis has already begun, the Disks of Mishakal have been taken and one of your party (Goldmoon) has become a true Cleric. Unfortunately, your party have also managed to get themselves caught up in a Draconian army and have to reach the caves of Sla-Mori, sneak into the fortress of Pax Tharkas in order to free the slaves and recover the sword 'Wyrmslayer' so as to bind the forces of the resistance together.

Up to 10 companions comprise your band (you start with eight, the other two can be recruited as you travel) and the idea is to move through the countryside, find the caves, enter the fortress and do the business. There are two main movement modes: the first shows your party represented by a single, viewed from above, character that is controlled directly by joystick. The second is viewed from the side and shows only the party leader (you can switch party leaders whenever you feel like it) and any characters encountered - friendly or not. Encountering baddies usually means you have to fight them and this involves either pressing the firebutton and moving the joystick to one of eight positions, or calling up a spell menu and casting a spell (if the current character has the ability). Encountering goodies, though, usually results in a text message either giving you some helpful advice, such as "There is an arms cache to the north" or informing you that someone would like to join your party.

There are several helpful items lying around that can be picked up and used by members of your party, and these are indicated by blue squares on the overhead view. Once a character dies, his/her portrait at the base of the screen becomes blurred and once you've lost all the party, well, it's time to either start again or load back in that saved game.


The character portraits are all good and while the overhead and side views are basic, they're quite reasonable - at least the sprites respond quickly to key presses. Sound is limited to a few spot effects and these are nothing to write home about.


It's simple stuff so it's easy to get into. It's also easy to play and with a bit of application shouldn't take too long to complete. That said, it's not too easy and the difficulty tuning has been set about right. It's definitely an action game and the role-playing elements that creep in give it a nice bit of variation on a straight hack 'n' slash game.


Dragons of Flame is definitely enjoyable to start with, but the sheer number of enemies that have to be dealt with takes the edge off the excitement and the whole thing starts to get a shade on the repetitive side. Still, it's certainly a nice easy game to get into and works well as an introduction to the sort of things that happen in 'real' role-playing games.

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Nun kommt also schon das dritte Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Spiel für den Amiga heraus, und es ist immer noch kein vernünftiges Rollenspiel dabei! Aber wie auch immer, wir haben uns das gute Stück mal im Vergleich mit den ersten beiden Teilen angesehen.

Knappe 300 Jährchen ist es jetzt her, daß die alten Götter Krynn (das Land, in dem sich alles abspielt) verlassen haben. Seither gewinnt Takisis, die Göttin der Dunkelheit, immer mehr an Macht, und es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis sie aus ihrer Hölle nach Krynn umziehen wird.

Für die Bewohner des Landes gibt es nichts Schlimmeres, als die alte Hexe zur Nachbarin zu haben, folglich wird ein abenteuerreiches Team losgeschickt (wir kennen es bereits aus "Heroes of the Lance"), ujm die drohende Gefahr abzuwenden.

Nach dem verdächtig schnellen Laden (ziemlich ungewöhnlich für ein Rollenspiel!) erscheint das Titelbild, begleitet von kurzer aber guter Musik. Ein Druck auf die Space-Taste zaubert den Credit-Screen hervor, auch nicht schlecht, hey, die werden sich diesmal doch nicht etwa angestrengt haben?

Dann muß man nur noch die Paßwortabfrage hinter sich bringen und eine kurze Anleitungsstory durchlesen; schon ist der Weg zur ersten Spielgrafik frei! Die ist denn auch tatsächlich ganz gut geworden, selbst wenn's ein bißchen ruckelt - immerhin sind die Charaktere nicht mehr digitalisiert.

Aber dann kommt's, das Kampfsystem ist eine Katastrophe: So ein müdes Rumgestochere! Na ja, immerhin ist das Menü recht ordentlich: Der Spieler darf seine Zaubersprüchlein aussuchen, etwas aufnehmen, öffnen, geben, den Plan anzeigen und abspeichern; auf einer (formatierten) Diskette haben mehrere Spielstände Platz. Alles gut und schön, aber was bietet das Game selbst?

Nun, man kann auf der Karte herumlaufen, sie ist allerdings nicht sehr komplex und eher kleiner als bei den Vorgängern. Während des Spiels taucht ab und zu mal ein Mensch auf, der sich der Party anschließt und wichtige Hinweise gibt; man findet Waffen, Schriftrollen und einiges mehr. Es gibt 19 verschiedene Monsterarten, die auf der Karte nur grün dargestellt werden und sich erst im Kampfmodus "enttarnen".

Wie schon bei den anderen beiden AD & D Actionspielchen mangelt es bei Dragons of Flame nicht an der Grafik, die dürfte sogar die beste von allen sein. Auch die Titelmusik und die sparsam verteilten Effekte sind erträglich, ebenso die Handhabung: man hat das Spiel fast allein mit dem Joystick im Griff.

Leider kommt trotz alledem keine rechte Freude auf, aus dem einfachen Grund, weil das Programm ebenso lahm ist wie seine beiden Vorgänger. Spielwitz und echtes Rollenspiel-Feeling verzweifelt gesucht... Uns bleibt also weiterhin nur zu hoffen, daß irgendwann mal die richtigen AD & D Rollenspiele ihren Weg (vom C64 und PC) auf den Amiga finden werden - an der Zeit wär's ja langsam! (mm)

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Price: £24.99

In this fourth Dungeons & Dragons arcade adventure/RPG the heroes are journeying southward through the land in a bid to recover the great sword Wyrmslayer, and free the slaves held in the fortress of Pax Tharkas. Looking at the screenshots you'd be forgiven for thinking Dragons of Flame to be an arcade game, indeed it does proceed along those lines, only with more depth.

The opening stage is the journey. Most of the land has now been overrun by the Draconians, whose forces consist of just about every semi-intelligent fantasy creature. It's impossible to avoid getting into a scrape. Also, you get the opportunity to recruit computer-played characters who are found wandering around in the confusion. Some play a major part in the game and need to be protected, whilst villagers and peasants will provide you with information and are totally expendable.

Finding the way inside the fortress is the first big problem, and requires you to recruit an Elf called Gilthanus. Once found, the party enters the catacombs beneath the fortress and the game takes on a different appearance; instead of the overhead view the party is represented by the lead character who is shown side on, in much the same style as Heroes of the Lance's. Whilst adding more atmosphere to the game this also makes it harder to judge exactly how many Draconians are attacking.

Moving the party is accomplished with the joystick, with a separate menu contaiing commands like open, close, shut, take, give and drop. All commands are utilitarian but don't add much scope for manipulating objects.

Although it's a good game, Dragons of Flame lacks a real Dungeons & Dragons feel. A true D&D game should consist of more roleplaying, characters that develop as the game progresses and multiple scenarios. Instead what you get are characters that are already set, one over scenario and a sparse amount of commands. On the positive side anybody who liked Heroes of the Lance is guaranteed to love this. It manages to generate a healthy atmosphere in keeping with the D&D theme. Personally I'd like to see a cross between this and Pool Of Radiance, the first computer D&D game from SSI. Maybe the next one, eh?

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US Gold, Amiga £24.99

The Queen Of Darkness manipulates evil dragons and their draconian minions to spread her iniquitous power across the land of Krynn. Once her scaly servants have succeeded in overpowering the populace the queen plans to personally take control of Krynn and envelop it in an eternity of darkness.

There's only one way to stop her (wouldn't ya know it): Krynn's s people must have their faith in the old gods restored to boost their resistance to evil. A band of adventurers have already recovered the Disks Of Mishakal (check out US Gold's Heroes of the Lance - if you really have to) and now seek the long-lost Wyrmslayer to help rekindle opposition to the evil forces currently sweeping across Krynn.

You control the adventurers as they move swiftly through the war-torn world of magical mayhem in an attempt to avoid capture by draconians, find Wyrmslayer, rescue a princess, and free women and children held prisoner in the fortress. Pax Tharkas. Your band initially consists of a fighter, a warrior, a mage, a knight, a cleric, a barbarian, a kender, and a dwarf (other characters may join your quest en route), all of whom should be familiar to you if you've played Dragonlance games before or, better still, read any of the excellent books.

Two main modes of play exist: Wilderness and Combat. Wilderness is a dragon's-eye view of your surroundings and is used to navigate your way across Krynn - there's also a map of the whole area available at the touch of a key. Combat is automatically instigated when non-player characters (NPCs) are met or buildings entered and utilizes a third-person perspective. These NPCs are many and varied, in fact their numbers are ridiculous. Encountered every other step they take the form of nomads (friendly nomads may join your party and can be used as cannon fodder), kapaks, griffons, dire wolves, hobglobins, trolls, war dogs, and dragons. Very few NPCs bode well for your party.

Fighting is undertaken with either a ranged weapon (such as spear or bow) or close weapon (sword, for example); your mage and cleric use magic. The first four members of your party are all included in the fray. As members die (a regular occurrence) their place is taken by the next in line, although Goldmoon (the cleric) is automatically replaced by Riverwind (barbarian) should she take too much damage - he's such a hero!

Time is of the essence. As soon as the game starts you should race south toward Pax Tharkas before the draconian hordes infest the land. Along the way you come across Gilthanas the Elven prince who tells you of a secret entrance to the fortress: a good job really as the front door looks far too well guarded to get through. Once Gilthanas is part of your group head for the forest and mountains to find way south that avoids the worst of enemy hordes.

Statistics such as Charisma, Intelligence, Hit Points, Wisdom and so on feature although they're controlled by computer while you're left to rush around Krynn trying to avoid death. Weapons, potions, and spells found on your travels may be added to members' inventories and used to help keep them in their seemingly impossible task.

Played with a combination of keys and joystick, Dragons Of Flame is arcade orientated - RPG elements sadly take a back seat. No-win situations occur regularly: Trolls and Griffons are particularly vicious and, if magic isn't (or can't be) used, take mere seconds to make mincemeat of your party. All too often three or four of these enemies attack at once, giving you no chance.

The only way to progress is to save your position after every successful confrontation. This reduces game-flow to zero and ultimately leads to intense frustration. Those who enjoy taking two steps forward and three back may warm to Dragons Of Flame. Everyone else who likes good RPG-style games should buy Drakkhen.

Really-useful-information dept:
A C64 version should be available around April, priced £9.99 cassette; £14.99 disk.