Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress logo

Is Eye of the Beholder the limit for role-playing interaction? Ishar proves where there's life there's hope.

Wasn't Ishar that awful film with Warren Beatty and the short guy? No indeed, that was Ishtar, and it had lots of camels in. Ishar has a noticeable lack of camels, but lots of scenery.

Remember a game called Crystals of Arborea? Probably not - it wasn't very good. Anyway, this is the sequel, and the plot is something like this: the land of Kendoria (formerly Arborea) has been plunged into darkness... evil ruler called Krogh built fortress... called Ishar... go and kill him... etc.

Thus you find yourself alone in some pleasant countryside with just a sword in hand a shady figure off in the distance. Your aim is threefold: to find some other stout adventurers, to find out what the hell you're supposed to be doing and then do it. Easy.

Character acting
Ishar is pretty much a standard role-playing game. You wander around the landscape, recruiting characters (for some reason every character in the game is very partial to the phrase "Warm Tear" as a greeting or farewell), finding objects, killing monsters and getting clues. Sub-quests lead you on further to your final goal of getting into Ishar and killing Krogh before he does any more damage.

Wandering around the countryside by means of Dungeon Master-like movement arrows, you inevitably encounter other characters. These can be recruited, but only after a vote from the rest of your team (assuming you've got a team) - if they don't like the new addition, they're out. The characters have the usual attributes, like strength, spell-casting ability and experience.

But there's more to the characters than that. They each have their own psychology, so friendships may form between them. If you want to get rid of a team member, you've got two options: dismissal or murder. If the character in question is a good friend of the other team members, then they'll vote against you and you're stuck with him.

You could just do him in, but then if one of the other characters is the dead one's friend, he may very well attack the murderer. It's a delicate business and some parts of the quest depend on this interaction.

Most of Kendoria is countryside, but there are towns here and there. Wherever you are you usually find some odd but interesting-looking places to visit, which may be private houses, inns, training grounds or shops. The latter are useful for stocking up on spell ingredients such as Gargoyle Claw. These ingredients are mixed in certain doses and arrangements to form a spell, though the magically-capable character has to learn the spell by training before he/she can use it. Spells range from the crap, like Sleep, to the frankly godlike, like Resurrection or Repulse (sends opponents to Hell).

Happiness is a long hike
Ishar! (Bless you). The sum of Ishar's parts is definitely more than its whole. While no aspect of the game is really more than just above average, they blend in a very pleasing way to make up a wholly enjoyable game.

Anyone who's dabbled in the murky RPG waters before should feel very comfortable with the decidedly non-radical control systems used. This can only be a good thing - instead of struggling with the icons you're struggling with the puzzles and monsters.

The graphics really are quite gorgeous, and they look better and better as you continue playing. Apparently there are 20,000 locations and 160,000 views. While we're on the statistics, there are also 30 characters, 150 enemies and 40 possible spells. While all this hugeness adds to the game it does mean you spend large amounts of time trekking round the Kendorian countryside. Still, at least the graphics are worth looking at, and there are some pleasant samples to be heard.

Apart from the unnecessarily inflated price, Ishar is a solid little game with lots to offer. Kendoria needs you. Go on, help them out - they'll love you forever. Warm tear!



Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress logo

Armes Arborea: erst gingen vier magische Kristalle verloren, denen im Vorgänger Prinz Jarel hinterherhetzen musste, dann wurde das Eiland in Kendoria umgetauft, und jetzt ist auch noch ein Wüstling namens Krogh auf der Bildfläche erschienen!

Wenn einem soviel Elend wird beschert - das ist schon einen (neuen) Rolli-Helden wert: In diesem Falle heißt er Aramir und steht allein auf weiter Flur, jedenfalls anfänglich. Aber keine Sorge, es laufen ihm genügend Kandidaten über den Weg, mit denen er ein Team gründen und bald zur schlagkräftigen Fünfer-Combo ausbauen kann. Bloß ist "über den Weg" hier eigentlich der falsche Eindruck, denn zumeist bricht der junge Held durch wegloses Unterholz...

Wie schon bei "Crystals of Arborea" entpuppen sich die Wanderschaften als wahrer Augenschmaus; selten wurden plastische Umgebungen und Gegner echter bzw. mit mehr Liebe zum Detail gezeichnet! Das Geschehen wird in einem großen 3D-Fenster aus der Party-Perspektive gezeigt, untermalt ist es von einer auf Dauer etwas monotonen Soundkullise, die ebenfalls verdächtig an das arboreanische Ur-Abenteuer erinnert.

Naja, zumindest tirilieren die Vögelein recht überzeugend, es plätschern die Bäche, und eine hübsch düstere Titelmelodie hat Silmarils ebenfalls spendiert. Hat sich also, vom ausgewechselten Oberschlimmling mal abgesehen, wirklich nichts gravierendes gegenüber dem Vorgänger verändert?

Doch, doch, beispielsweise das Gameplay. Konnte man "Crystals of Arborea" noch kaum als ausgewachsenes Rollenspiel bezeichnen, so kommt Ishar dem Idealzustand bereits wesentlich näher: Jeder Recke trägt nun eine ansehnliche Menge an Eigenschaften bzw. Skills spazieren, zusätzlich verfügen die Charaktere über eine Art Weltanschauung, ähnlich ihren AD&D-Kollegen - im Falle extremer Antipathie meutern sie sogar mal gegen die Aufnahme eines Neuzugangs in Team!

Auch Magier und sonstige Hexer leiden nicht mehr an Langeweile, denn außer im Kampf dürfen sie ihr kreatives Potential nun sogar an der Erschaffung diverser Zauber-Potions auslassen (sofern die Zutaten bei der Hand sind).

Die Prügeleien haben ebenfalls zugelegt, finden sie jetzt doch im Stil von "Eye of the Beholder" in Echtzeit statt. Der taktische Kampfscreen ist deshalb aber nicht gänzlich verschwunden; man kann hier immer noch die Formation festlegen, also etwa die Bogenschützen nach hinten stellen etc.. Last but not least erwarten Euch diesmal sogar richtige Dungeons, allerdings erst später im Spiel, wenn die unheiligen Gewölbe von Kroghs Ishar-Tempel zur Erforschung anstehen.

Selbst die Maus/Icon-Steuerung funktioniert tadellos; wenn uns Ishar dennoch nicht restlos überzeugen konnte, dann muß es wohl an den vergleichsweise einfachen Rätseln liegen - wie bei der Hatz nach den arboreanischen Klunkern gehören die Aufgaben überwiegend zur nicht allzu schweißtreibenden Sorte.

Trotzdem, weiter so, und das nächste Game stößt endgültig in Hit-Sphären vor! (jn)



Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress logo

The FRP bandwagon rolls inexorably on, this newest one offering some laugh-a-minute character interaction.

The forces of evil and darkness never seem to sit still for long. Last month we had a bunch of merry adventurers slugging it out in SSI's Eye of the Beholder II, while over in sunny Trazere there was another ripping tussle under way courtesy of Mindscape's excellent Legend.

Now there's Ishar, which brings us yet another chance to go a-wandering in a land ridden with evil creatures, liberally peppered with treasure and stuffed to the gunnels with RPG-style silly names. The interface is in the EOTB mould; a first-person perspective view-screen, you have to click on arrows for movement, and sub-screens are used for stats, inventories and certain actions. It differs from EOTB in that the wilderness-based parts of the adventure play a more signficant role, and differs from a good many other RPGs in that the first-person view is retained when in the great outdoors.

THE LOST GENERATION OF HEROES
And so to the plot. A chap called Krogh has built a temple called Ishar in the land of Kendoria and is intent on making life thoroughly unpleasant for all you Kendorian kinsfolk. It's your job to find the temple and have a few stiff words with Krogh - or bosh him one if he is not prepared to listen to reason.

There are several ways to win, most of which entail scooting about the country trying to build your party up, equip them with the huge variety of weaponry and armour you'll find is available, and bump up their magic-using capability wherever possible, more of which later.

Character generation is very simple - there isn't any. You start with a fighter chappie and must recruit extra party members as you go along. A total of 30 potential recruits - including rangers, paladins, monks, clerics, wizards and the like - are dotted about the game world, so there's no shortage of choice, but there are some added complexities.

For a start, this RPG breaks with tradition and offers - wait for it - five characters! Yes, five. That's four plus one for those of you labouring under the apprehension that all good adventuring parties come in fours. It's a fairly fluid group of five too - you can boot individual members out if you come across someone you fancy more (but see 'Just one big happy family box' below), and you can replace those killed in action.

Then we've got the interaction of party members to consider. New members must be voted in, existing members may have arguments with each other, there's even the potential for internecine bloodletting if disagreements go too far. As if you didn't have enough to do in getting through the adventure proper.

Setting out, the first thing that hits you is the graphics. The landscape is gloriously realistic, as is the effect of distance - buildings, show as hazy outlines when they're fan away, and are realised in glorious detail close up. Even the trees, grass and rivers look realistic, as is the effect of distance - buildings show as hazy outlines when they're far away, and are realised in glorious close up.

Even the trees, grass and rivers look realistic, which all adds to the game's atmosphere. Unfortunately, the monsters leave a little to be desired. They jerk towards you, a la EOTB, and do the usual two or three-frame stutter-swipe swordplay that adds so little to combat encounters.

Once you've hacked your way past the initial random monster encounter, and picked up some gold to boot, it's time to pop into a few buildings at the first village. Here you can buy food and weaponry (if you've got enough dosh), go to the tavern to pick up useful gossip, recruit your first party member, train to up your strength (rather expensive this one) and get a hint from a wise old man as to your next move.

There are many such encounters in the game, gicing a certain linearity to the plot, but you could feasibly go meandering for days in your own sweet way.


Character generation is very simple - there isn't any

YOU'LL WA-WA-WA-WA WANDER
Unfortunately, it's all too easy to end up wandering for days even if you do stick to the storyline - you've got a map to refer to, but it only shows coastlines, rivers and bridges. It's at times like these you'll go to the orientation function on the actions menu, but the advice given on your whereabouts here is pretty vague.

Also, the concept of roads seems to be lost on the inhabitants of Kendoria, so don't be surprised to find yourself trudging about for ages when looking for the elusive bridges that provide the only means of getting on in the world.

That said, however, there is a fair amount to do. As your party progresses, it encounters various folk who will either stop to chat, trade, fight or join your posse. Taking on a magic user (either cleric or wizard) means getting to grips with spells and, as you'd expect, these increase in power and range as experience points are accumulated and characters go up in level.

There's also the facility to mix your own potions, the ingredients for which have to be bought at apothecaries along the way. You can mix ingredients (eye of toad, brain of rat and other delicacies) any old way if you're feeling particularly adventurous - they can have odd results if you don't know what you're doing - or, alternatively, you can look out for people bearing specific recipes. Of course, you'll need to find the magical mixing flask first - and there's only in the game, so you'd better keep your eyes peeled.

The way the magic works is certainly a move in the right direction, combining the standard role of pre-formulated RPG spells with the more versatile Legend-style make it up as you go along approach, though it still doesn't match the sheer spellcasting fun of Legend.

In all, then, what we've got here is a game that could probably run a close race with EOTB - the graphics are better and the party make-up is more malleable - but it doesn't draw you in in the same way. One reason for that is that it's quite frustrating to begin with, as the game gives you no clear idea of your location or how best to get from A to B.

I had to start afresh several times after various party-totalling encounters, including a run-in with an invisible wood spirit - damn frustrating getting killed by something you can't even see. (To be fair, there is a 'helm of clear seeing' to help out with this particular to-do, but you've got to find it first). Also, a combination of the orientation-bobbling first-person view, the lack of auto-mapping and the vagueness of the descriptions given of one's location makes finding anything in this game world some task.


Breaks with tradition and offers - wait for it - five characters!

VERILY THE EARTH SHALL SHAKE
What else? Well, the inclusion of character interaction is good - you can even visit a psychiatrist for an assessment of the party's karma! - but it's tricky keeping members alive for long enough to build up any kind of meaningful relationship. This is an interesting and unexpected variation on the way things are usually done, though I can't help thinking it'll make as many enemies as it earns friends.

Briefly, then, there's enough novelty and more than enough daft names in here to keep the RPG buff amused for a fair while, and some damn titanic encounters in the temple of Ishar that will certainly slake the hack-'n'-slash merchant's thirst for virtual murder, but it's no world beater.

Quite frankly, there've been an awful lot of impressive RPGs this year, and while this is a worthy addition, it's not an earth shaking one.


JUST ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY - NOT!

One of the most original things about Ishar is the way the party members relate to each other. When recruiting, existing members will vote on whether the newie should be allowed to join. Factors such as race and alignment (good or evil) will sway them, so it's not always a dead cert that your paladins will welcome the psychotic orc you're keen to hang out with. You could find yourself unable to recruit potentially useful characters.

That's not all though. Even if you do get someone past the entry committee, often as not they'll behave live a schmuck. One cantankerous dwarf, for instance, will refuse point blank to give first aid to certain party members - if this winds you up, you can always try to get him booted, though he may have made other friends in the party who will object.

Get him assassinated? You could try that too, but this mates are unlikely to take kindly to it, and you could easily get embrolled in a lot of pointless in-fighting. Similarly, other new party members could easily prove divisive in other ways - one female you'll meet forms seemingly random romantic attachments with members of your party!

So what's the point? Well, it's kinda fun, and adds a dimension not normally seen in FPS, but (more importantly) than this is, I believe, the first time a computer game has ever managed to adequately capture the sort of mindless hostility which so many paper-and-die role players routinely engage in when there's a dispute about the rules. (And if you've ever played D&D, you'll know there can be a lot of disputes about the rules). Anyway, if you think you might enjoy that sort of bickering, you'll probably quite like this.

MAKING FRIENDS IS EASY...

There are numerous encounters awaiting your band of brave adventurers; some folk you'll meet can be useful, while others take an immediate dislike to the concept of your continued existence. It's usually fairly plain how an encounter will turn out - if a text box comes up, then you're generally okay. If, however, a red splodge with a number in it appears over an adventurer's face, then you're generally going to have to hack your way out. Here're a few sights you'll come across in the game...

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
The first bod you'll encounter points you in the right direction, but volunteers little else. You could try beating information out of him, but that would be churlish.

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
Striding heroically across the veldt, we come upon a village. Quick, let's hide behind that silver birch before we're asked to register for the community charge...

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
Life in the big city is no bed of roses. Mindless thugs roam the streets intent on causing trouble, like this geezer here, who'd sooner bop you one than stop for a chat.

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
Oh look, it's a dragon. And if I'm not very much mistake he's taken to hanging out in a dungeon. There's something very familiar about all this...

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
Here we see the natives engages in a fascinating tribal dance ritual. No, sorry, it's a bunch of orcs - and they want to kill us! Some things never change, eh?


Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress logo CU Amiga Screen Star

With napsack strapped to his back, and a bickering party of adventurers at his side, Tony Dillon enters Silmarils' sequel to Crystal of Arborea...

IT'S STORY TIME...
If you remember playing Silmarils' earlier game, Crystals of Arborea, you'll already know the story of how Jarel, the Price of Elves, overthrew the evil Morgoth and became the ruler of Arborea, now known as Kendoria. However, since then Jarel has died in a bizarre hunting accident - one of those things the authorities thought was best left unsolved - and many came to the land and tried to take his place.

An evil lord by the name of Krogh succeeded, and now rules from his castle in Ishar, a place of evil power. You assume the role of an average citizen sent out to liberate the country and defeat the evil lord. All in a day's work, eh?

You begin the game alone in the middle of nowhere. The only person in sight is some mad guy standing by a tree who recommends a nearby pub. You don't know where you are, what you are supposed to do, or anything come to that, so a good pint down the pub sounds a good idea.

WHERE AM I?
Discovery and exploration are the keys to Ishar. The plot is a complex beast which unveils itself as you progress, occasionally throwing you off balance with the odd puzzle or totally unexpected occurrence.

As you move from one point in the story to the next, you will discover more and more clues, until you feel like part of some violent detective story set in a mythical wood. Lost and clueless in the middle of nowhere may not sound like fun, but it actually fires the imagination and kickstarts the plot.

The first things you'll notice as you explore the attractive lands of Ishar are the stunning graphics used to depict the area. There are 40,000 locations, with each screen offering a further four viewpoints for each compass point, giving a total of 160,000 different views in the game - all of which are perfectly drawn.

Depths and distances are portrayed correctly, as is the scaling of objects, and the effect generated by walking forward is convincing and true.

Ishar is the sort of role-playing game fanatics will die for. I don't know about anyone else, but for an RPG to work for me, I have to feel that I am actually part of the adventure, not an onlooker with a remote overview of the proceedings.

Everything is viewed through a first person perspective, and the graphics enhance the feeling of really being there. However, it's all the things you can't initially see that make this game stand out. For a start, there is the overall depth of everything.

Each character is completely different, and as you recruit your merry band, you'll realise how helpful it is to keep a varied bunch. Different strengths and weaknesses in different tasks and skills help round your team, and the different classes of characters open new doors when problem solving.

ALL FRIENDS TOGETHER
The way your party members get along is very important. This is the first time I've ever seen such an intelligent human element in a game like this. Each member of your party develops affiliations and relationships with the other members of your party, and all have a say in the actions you try to carry out.

For example, your band of four may meet a very talented, but extremely untrustworthy thief. You want to take the risk of him stealing all your party's possessions while you sleep because you think recruiting his talents is probably worth it. In any other game of this type, you could just recruit who you liked. However, in this case the system is a little more democratic. The rest of your party vote against recruiting the thief as they just don't like him, so he doesn't join. In doing this, you are made to feel your party is indeed a real collection of people.

Characters also get involved with NPCs (Non Player Characters). In one sub-plot, a father asks you to rescue his daughter in return for which he will give you a key. You find and rescue his daughter, but on the way back she falls in love with a male member of the squad.

When the time comes to deliver the girl, she won't go without her lover, and he won't leave the party, so the only thing is kill him. On killing him, someone else in the party who became good friends with him turns against you. It's complex, but no more complicated than real life.

A large part of the game involves picking up clues from one person as to the whereabouts of another. Again, it's the detective story element. The game is completely mouse controlled, with the faces of your team members at the bottom of the screen displaying individual status and information screens, as well as the now standard cluster of arrows for movement.

Clicking on one of the two buttons above the characters' faces lets you into a new world of interactivity. 'Attack' prompts the team to battle any enemy currently on screen and clicking on 'Action' opens a sub-menu, from which you can perform all the character functions, including hiring and firing, picking locks, checking your orientation (displayed as your position in location to key areas), or using magic.

A REAL SPELLBOOK
Magic in Ishar is far more than clicking on a scroll and watching the effect. A character begins with few spells, if any, and has to enrole on magic courses to learn more. In addition, they have to be used correctly - magic missiles have to be aimed, for example.

Not only are there thirty-five different spells (ranging from standards, such as healing and fireballs, to new spells where you can even turn your party in gas clouds), there's also the ability to crate spells of your own. In the manual there is a list of different compounds to be mixed, the effects of which you'll have to discover for yourself.

The sheer size of Ishar means that you'll be playing it for weeks, possibly months, to come. It's the best game of its type I've ever seen, and is obviously highly recommended.


COMBAT Combat in Ishar is run via a very complicated system, which actually proves very easy in practice. All you have to do is repeatedly click on an icon marked 'Attack'. This signals for that particular character to take a shot at the enemy. How well you do is based on a few pointers, though. Obviously, the weapon you are using has a large effect, as does your overall experience. Also taken into consideration are the character's skill in using their currently held weapon, plus his or her physical positioning in the group (characters at the back can only use ranged weapons, such as arrows). The enemies' strength and fighting skills also change the result. Amazing really, when all you get to see is a splash of red and a number telling you how much damage you have inflicted.


Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress logo

ISHAR - LEGEND OF THE FORTRESS: out now from Silmarils/Daze on Amiga, ST and PC, £29.99

Mention 'RPG' and AMAYA LOPEZ goes into a hypnotic trance babbling on about sweet little elves, dwarves and orcs. Rather than face that prospect, we threw her in a corner with a copy of Silmaril's newie, ISHAR - LEGEND OF THE FORTRESS.

AmigaQUESTIING TIME
Yes, it's one of those role-playing games again. Unfortunately, most games of this genre get caught up in the "Yes, but... it's not as good as Dungeon Master" debate. Well, I'm not even going to bother with that hoard old chestnut because Ishar is really rather good.

Fortunately, the plot is summed up very briefly in the manual, but essentially it goes like this: there was once some dark-lord type called Morgoth, who was defeated by Jarel, the poncey Prince of the Elves. He then even more poncily managed to kill himself in a hunting accident, bringing anarchy to the kingdom of Kendoria. A shady geezer called Krogh now threatens Kendoria, and you must journey to his temple, Ishar, in order to regain Jarel's throne.

WANNA BE IN MY GANG?
You start off with one character, but you can recruit up to four throughout the game. I even had a scantily-clad maiden approach me in the woods, who seemed completely unabashed when she realised I was a girl. You journey through a myriad of forests, shrubland, villages, cities and (of course) dungeons, creating a sort of 'job club' for anyone who's fool enough to join.

In addition, you get to cast spells, go shopping for useful stuff like gargoyle claws, and battle against deformed-looking warriors, sabre-toothed lions and the like. The exploring element is strong, and made me feel like a young Frodo Baggins - all na´ve and fresh-faced. Okay, so there's not as much fighty-fighty action as in, er,... Dungeon Thingy, but even so, it's crushing when one of your team gets beaten to death - you feel like you've lost one of your babies.

The sense of perspective is brilliant - if you click rapidly on all the direction icons and watch everything go in and out of focus, you can come over all queer and end up feeling a trifle mongy. Nevertheless, even people with a dire sense of direction can get to grips with the system by keeping an eye on the handy compass on the top-right of the screen.

Graphically the game is very neat, with beautiful landscapes that encourage you to delve deeper into it and the sound effects are adequate enough, lulling you into a false sense of security. However, the hearty noises whenever you enter a tavern sound like the audience on The Les Dennis Show. But most of all, it's the exciting sense of adventure (encompassing over 100,000 screens) that makes Ishar incredibly smart. Z


ISHAR A NICE GAME (*)
Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
  1. Your burly 'A Team'.
  2. Action - allows you to give items, kill, recruit, etc... and has a handy map to preuse.
  3. Attack - clicking on this will make you automatically trash out at your opponent.
  4. Clicking on the 'portrait screen' will give you the option of calling up the weapons your particular mate is carrying...
  5. Or will shows you his/her power and weapon bars.
  6. Clicking on a character's name will reveal his/her personal attirbutes (like intelligence and experience), weapons he's carrying, amount of dosh he has, etc...
  7. Your character's life bar.
  8. This calls up a larger grid so that you can place your team members in attacking order (i.e. the crap ones at the back).
  9. Save Game facility. Beware though, you can only use if it you've got enough dosh. (Swiz.).
  10. Turn left or turn right.
  11. Take a step to the left or to the right.
  12. Step forwards.
  13. Step backwards.
  14. Er... a compass.
  15. A mystery house.
  16. A lucious oak.


Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress AGA logo AGA

Daze Marketing * 071-328 2762 * £29.99

Hooray! Another AGA-only game hits the streets - the second this month from Daze Marketing. Ishar: Legend of the Fortress is a reasonably old game, originally reviewed in AF37 (76 per cent), but this is a slight update on the original taking advantage of the AGA's larger colour palette.

Ishar> is a huge role-playing adventure, boasting over 20,000 locations, 180 characters and 40 spells. Although these are rather ambitious figures, they are quite believable, because it takes some time to travel across the landscape of Kendoria, the setting for the game.

Apparently, 'Ishar' means 'unknown' in the Elfin tongue, which is pretty fitting because you don't really know where it is. All you do know is that you've got to get there somehow break in, and kill the evil Krogh who is threatening to plunge the land into darkness. Well, not many marks for the intricate plot, but the content of the game is good.

Your party can contain up to five characters which you can recruit from the various oddballs who are lurking around Kendoria. A good point here is that any possible recruitments must have the vote of every member of your party - if any character doesn't like the look of them, they're out. Similarly, if you get the urge to sack or kill one of your party members, and they have made friends within the party, you could have a mutiny on your hands.

The only minor niggle is that the odd spelling error has crept in - such as Humain for Human and strentgh for Strength. It's been translated from German, so it's understandable, but the mistakes are in prominent positions and more care could have been taken.

Ishar is a good, solid game, and the addition of extra colours in this new vesion makes it all quite a lot prettier - as well as quite a lot quicker. If you already have Ishar, there's not much more for you here. If you haven't, then it's recommended if you relish a challenge.



Metzeln wie gehabt

Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Als Silmarils vor einem Jahr die Rollenspieler in die Festung des schurkischen Krogh schickte, ahnte noch kaum jemand etwas vom kommenden Power-Amiga - daher die Verspätung der speziellen 1200er Version.

Doch wird ja angeblich gut, was lange gärt, weshalb wir der Edelvariante des Nachfolgers von "Crystals of Arborea" optimistisch entgegenfieberten. Zu Recht?

Nun, zunächst sei Uneingeweihten verraten, daß Krogh im Inselreich Kendoria für Monster, Magie und mächtig mörderische Mysterien sorgt und man ihm deshalb das Handwerk legen sollte. Für den Job meldet sich der Krieger Aramir, welcher beim maus- oder stickgesteuerten Herumstrolchen in der wunderhübsch gezeichneten 3D-Wildnis alsbald auf potentielle Kumpane stößt, um mit ihnen eine potente Fünfer-Combo zu gründen.

Die Jungs und Mädels hatten und haben alles, was echte Rolli-Helden brauchen: Eigenschaften und Fähigkeiten, eine AD&D-ähnliche Weltanschauung, die Neigung zu Klick-Kämpfen à la "Beholder" und einige können mit selbstgebrauten Potions etwas umständlich zaubern. Bei den Rätseln geht's nach wie vor in erster Linie ums Draufhauen, und die vom PC konvertierte Optik wirkt auch nicht schöner als vorher. Dafür sind nun neben den Sound-FX (z.B. Vogelgezwitscher) während des Spiels auch zwei atmosphärische Melodien zu hören.

Schön und gut, daß das Game allerdings nicht per Festplatte läuft, ist für eine 1200er-Version peinlich, und die etwas unsauber übersetzten Screentexte hat auch niemand überarbeitet. Fazit: Zuviel Optimismus führt nur zur Enttäuschungen... (jn)



Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress AGA logo AGA

Gadzooks! My 'Enhance A1200 version' spell seems to have had very little effect!

Bleep-bleep bleep-bleep-bleep. (Pause). Ring ring... Ring ring... Ring ring... Click...
"Hello, AMIGA POWER."
"Hi Stuart, it's Dave."
"Dave! I thought you'd left the country. What's that review?"
"Ah well... I'm having a bit of problem with it."
"Don't tell me. You dropped the disks in the canal? Or did the hamster die again this week? No, no, don't tell me. You accidentally, completely by mistake, ate your Amiga. DAVE, I WANT THAT REVIEW IN YESTERDAY!"
"Er, no, it's nothing like that. It's more a question of, er, angling the review."
"Angling? I thought you said that you hadn't dopped it in the canal."
"Very poor."
"Yeah, well. So come on. Spill the beans."


The same old sub-Tolkien adventuring nonsense

"Well, basically, Ishar's already reviewed back in issue 15."
"Yeah, but this is the super-new singing-and-dancing A1200 version."
"Not that you'd notice. The graphics have been spruced up, it runs a bit quicker and, er, that's about it. It's still the same old sub-Tolkien adventuring nonsense it always was. Orcs, goblins, sages, a plot you could summarise on a particularly small postage stamp with a especially blunt red crayon, the lot. I can't think of anything new to say about it."

"Hmm-mmm. Sounds to me like you're just trying to wriggle out of doing the review."
"Hardly, I've already done all the hard work - playing the darned thing. It's a tricky blighter to started off on, you know. It takes ages just collecting together your band of five adventurers. And when you have got a reasonable team and send them off on some sort of mission, all they do is argue or get killed by Orcs."

"Oh come on. You're a bit hard on it, surely."
"Yeah, okay, it's got its moments. The 3D views are dead lush, and the way your 'merry' band of adventurers interact is great; did you know that you can get characters who end up trying to kill each other? There's even this sex-crazed woman who works her way through the entire male cast."
"Phwoar, eh lads?"
"Yeah, that aspect of the game is a decent enough twist. And the control system is easy to get the hang of, the combat sections are mercifully straightforward, and the training and spell-learning bits are a lot less complicated than most RPGs. But..."
"I knew this was coming."
"But there's just too much wandering about aimlessly for what seems like hours on end, and the plot is virtually non-existent - some evil geezer's taken over the land and you've got to reach his castle, Ishar, and stop him. Hardly groundbreaking stuff, is it? And it makes the game as a whole pretty formless and flabby."

"Which reminds me, how is the diet going? Ahem. You weren't impressed, then."
"Oh, it's not bad, I suppose, but nothing special. And the 1200 version is no real improvement. I mean, all I can really think to say in the review is that it's for A1200-owning adventure fans who haven't got anything better to play this month. Except they have - Ishar 2."
"Sure, great. But we play you to write more than that."
"Hmm, I'll think of something."



Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress AGA logo AGA

DAZE OUT NOW, £32.99

The archipelago of Arborea has featured in a fair few RPGs in recent years. First there was the Crystals of Arborea, then Ishar - Legend of the Fortress and, last month, Ishar 2 - Messengers of Doom. All games have been well received by both public and critics alike. So it was with some disappointment that many adventure fans found that Ishar 1 did not run on their A1200s.

Fortunately, that grave oversight has been corrected and A1200 owners can finally experience the delights of one of the best RPGs on the scene. Not only is it now fully compatible, it has also been significantly enhanced.

The player sees the world from the standard first person perspective but, beyond that, the game does not conform to the usual tenets of the genre.

First off there's no character generation to deal with - you start the game already equipped with one fighter who must then travel the lands recruiting other party members. This is one of the more intriguing aspects because you can often find yourself in a position where you desperately want to recruit someone whom the rest of the party will not have.

In this respect a character's personality greatly affects many aspects of the gameplay. You can even find yourself in a position where a wounded character, who is disliked by the rest of the team, is refused medical aid.

The idea of the game is to explore a vast world in an attempt to find clues that will help you defeat the nasty Krogh.

The evildoer has built a huge temple in your lands and is doing his utmost to terrorise and kill the local population. The sheer size of the map is probably the greatest problem that exists with this game in that the landscape is often very sparse with few locations for you to explore. Still, if you like mapping you're definitely in for a treat.

Improvements to the A1200 version include the obvious expansion in colours to 256 which adds significant depth to the backgrounds. Also, the gameplay has been tweaked to take advantage of the faster processor. This is quite welcome given the older version's tendency to run fairly slowly.

The most welcome improvement in this version of the game comes in the form of a doleful soundtrack - great for atmosphere. All in all it's a substantial improvement serving to enhance your overall enjoyment of the product.