Heroes of the Lance logo Amiga Computing Value Award

THE powerful combination of US Gold, SSI and TSR has created a new computer gaming genre by taking the best elements from the most popular games on the market and combining them into a new hybrid.
At present there is no label to classify Heroes of the Lance, and being the forerunner of a new breed of computer game, it sets the standard others will have to better. And a high standard it has set - it will be a long, long time before this game is surpassed.

You control eight adventurers - Tanis, Raistlin, Flint Fireforge, Sturm Brightblade, Tasslehoff Burrfoot, Caramon, Goodmoon and Riverwind - all of whom are taken from the Dragonlance Chronicles series of books.
These brave creatures have agreed to descend into the dungeons beneath a ruined temple, Xal Tsaroth, face all the dangers that this evil place contains and retrieve the legendary Disks of Mishakal, which will enable them to eventually confront Takhisis, the Queen of Darkness.

The dungeon contains all kinds of vicious creatures who will stop at nothing to decimate your party. Trolls, wraiths and spiders abound, but these are nothing compared to Khisanth, the guardian of the disks. She is a huge black dragon who can spit acid and is also extremely hard to kill.

The eight adventurers are well equipped with an array of innate abilities which, if used correctly, will enable them to obtain the required disks.

Six of the team are experienced in various forms of combat and can use weapons that come in useful at differing times. As well as close combat weapons, Tasslehoff has a hoopak, a combination of staff and sling shot, which can fire deadly bullets, Tanis carries a bow, while Flint can use a very vicious throwing axe which can be used to kill opponents from afar, reducing the number of wounds the party takes.

The hard boys of the party, Sturm,, Caramon and Riverwind, all carry weapons that can kill creatures with one blow, while Raistlin and Goldmoon rely on magic-based and god-given powers to survive.

Raistlin carries the Staff of the Magius. This allows him to cast eight spells, including a Magic Missile that delivers a series of blows to an opponent, and Flaming Hands, which lets sheets of flame pour from Raistlin's fingertips.
Goldmoon carries a magical blue crystal staff that allows her to cast more passive, but just as useful, crystal spells. These range from Cure Serious Wounds to Raise Dead.

Each staff has a number of charges which are used up by the continued use of spells. When drained they can be recharged by absorbing magic from spell-using opponents.

Gameplay is simple. Your characters are pictured at the bottom right-hand side of the screen in the order that they are exploring. Next to each is a bar chart which shows their state of health. Death is denoted by a character's portrait turning grey.
The left-hand side of the screen displays the direction the adventurers are travelling. If they find an exit or passage, the direction it is located in flashed red, indicating that travel in that direction is possible.
The top part of the screen is where all the action takes place. Your party is represented by the leading character, who does all the fighting, although if someone with spell casting abilities is present in the front four places, spells can be cast at the same time as combat.

Heroes of the Lance should satisfy a wide range of computer games players. It is action-packed, but not just with combat situations. There are traps to avoid, magic potions, rings, swords and shields to collect, pits to be jumped and money to be collected.

Although every games player will appreciate the stunning graphics, tremendous scrolling and realistic sound that Heroes provides, they won't appreciate what it will take to finish the game.

You will need the reactions of an arcade ace, the forethought of a role player and the inquisitiveness of an adventure buff. Getting the combination right will keep you glued to your monitor in hours.

Heroes of the Lance logo CU Screen Star

US Gold £24.99

D&D makes its first appearance on the Amiga in the unlikely shape and form of HOTL, unsurprisingly an arcade adventure with just a hint of role playing.

You are given control of eight of the most prominent characters from the 'Dragonlance Chronicles', ranging from a female cleric by the name of Goldmoon, to a feisty little dwarven warrior called Flint Fireforge. Goldmoon carries the Blue Crystal Staff, which, as if you didn't know, has lots of lovely healing qualities, enabling her to cure light and serious wounds, as well as the power to raise the dead (useful - Ed). The wizard Raistlin, has all kinds of offensive spells, such as Magic Missile, which fires magic bolts from his finger-tips, and an interesting little thing called web, which freezes anything it touches by binding it in huge amounts of sticky liquid.

The game is viewed side-on to the action, with doorways leading in and out of the plane of the play area. At the bottom of the screen are small digitised portraits of the eight characters, which show their respective health levels and which one is currently under control.

Of the eight, the only one which can attack of be controlled is the one in the top left-hand corner. The top four characters are the ones which can be hit by traps and dragon breath. The bottom four are completely safe - and it's here you should keep all your weakest characters. Remember though, you can't cast any spells if the magic user or cleric isn't in the four characters.

There are two types of combat. Ranged combat can occur when there are no enemies within a quarter of the screen. Should any enemy stroll into range of a character, hand-to-hand combat occurs. This basically consists of hacking away at the nearest opponent until they die.

The graphics are great. They are large and clear and very atmospheric. But they do fail down, just a little, on animation. The game is a little on the slow side; but believe me, after a while you don't notice.

The sound is alright, but nothing brilliant. What we have is a direct conversion from the ST version and I couldn't help feeling a little cheated. After all, the Amiga is capable of better things.

HOTL is, nevertheless, addictive. It's not the easiest thing in the world to get into; but give it a bit of time and wild horses couldn't drag you away from it. Not only have USG managed to capture all the feel of D&D, they've also come up with a damn fine game.

Heroes of the Lance logo

SSI/US Gold, Amiga £24.99

Guess what, guys? You and seven other adventurers are the only people who can recover the Disks of Mishakal from the dragon's dangerous lair.

Basically, you guide your party through dark passages killing monsters, firing at them and increasing your hit point by hacking more and more nasties into bits.
A special menu lets you pick up and use objects, change your leader, cast spells or save games.

Gordon Houghton Aye well, this is a very nice box and a very nice manual and all that so you'd think there'd be summat quite good lurking underneath... There isn't. Basically, the RPG/action combo just doesn't amount to much. Combat mode is about as easy as kissing a porcupine and the magic isn't interesting enough. Whether you're a fan of RPG or not, you'd be a lot better off putting your £25 under the mattress and giving this a miss.
Kati Hamza Hang on, hang on - is this a D&D simulator or is it just a plain old hack 'em up? Well, if you ask me, it's neither. The scrolling's too jerky and the combat controls are far too awkward for it to be a hot action, 'cut their 'orrible heads off' slash 'em up. - and there just aren't enough options to make the D&D interesting. Anyhow, by the time you've managed to select a magic option, you're normally a pretty helpless pile of evil-smelling meaty chunks - bleuch! If you really want a joystick-only RPG, look out for Times of Lore instead.
Poo Zzap's Rockford: I prefer Chicken vindafloo! It does wonders! Know what I mean! Zzap's Nose