Take a side step to your left, Colin...

Knightmare logo

MINDSCAPE * £30.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse * Out now

Now when this game came into our office, half of me was thinking "At last a game to give Dungeon Master a good kicking" and the other half was thinking "Wait a minute, isn't Knightmare that crap kids' programme on ITV?"
Knightmare is that terrible show where they get four kids and blindfold one of them by sticking a massive helmet on top of his/her head (this normally happens to the smallest who is always called Colin or Jeremy). The other three kids get the chance to kill Colin by telling him to walk around a computer-generated world into traps and clutches of giants, witches, trolls, etc,etc. The three kids aren't supposed to kill him, but most of them couldn't find their way out of Woolworths, never mind a dungeon plagued with goblins and giants.

Yes, the normal team line-up on Knightmare includes Colin, our intrepid blind adventurer, David, the only kid who has any adventuring experience, and playing Hobbit on his Spectrum doesn't really count anyway. Susan, whose idea of a good time is listening to Jason Donovan records and who hasn't a clue which planet she is on, let alone succeeding Knightmare, and Gary, who'd rather go and watch Crystal Palace instead of playing this game. He finds programmes like This Is Your Life interesting and full of humorous anecdotes.

To make up the rest of the team there are the presenters and err, well, uumghrtt, hmmmf, sorry, I'm trying to stop myself laughing. Hold on a minute... Right, I'm OK now. The main man is called Treguard who looks uncannily like a slim Brian Blessed.
Treguard's little helper - who's not one bit of help at all - has the really depressing name of Pickle. Yes, Pickle really is in a bit of a pickle. He looks like Robin Hood but with wispy blonde hair and painted on freckles.

But to the game! On loading, you are treated to a wonderful rendition of the Knightmare theme music. Next you have to define your four team members by typing in their names and deciding their professions (Adventure, Gladiator, Samurai, Wizard, Priest or Genie) and breeds (Man, Woman, Goblin, Ogre, Ghoul, Elf, Troll or Insectole).
After you have filled in all the gubbins about your team, it's time to start playing. Knightmare can be controlled with the mouse on its own, or a combination of mouse and keyboard. I found that it was a lot faster and easier to move your character around using the keyboard.

My first impression of Knightmare was that it doesn't half look like Captive. Well, fact fans, it just happens that Tony Crowther, who did the excellent Captive, also - shock, horror - did Knightmare.

You start the game in the forest outside the dungeons. This terrible place hides killer bunny rabbits, mischievous elves and a big beastie which is indescribable. The control method for fighting these awful creatures isn't quite the easiest in the world. You have to click your right mouse button on one of the hand icons and this will drop a scroll down from which you can choose whether to punch or kick. You then click with the right button again to activate the desired effect. In the middle of a battle this is a bit confusing, but you get used to it.

Once you are inside the dungeon things really get going, and to be honest it's as good as Dungeon Master. Treguard and Pickle give you friendly advice along the way, but tend to just state the obvious.

Good weapons in Knightmare are few and far between. For instance, I was wandering around the dungeon looking for a decent aggressive implement when lo and behold I spotted what looked like a sword. Imagine my dismay when I picked it up and Pickle kindly informed me that it was actually a pen-knife!

The game has four quests, so it will keep you going for ages. I haven't managed to complete the first quest yet - it's been a long time since I've played Dungeon Master.

Overall Knightmare is a really good game. It has astounding graphics which lend it a great atmosphere. The sound is adequate, with suitable swishes, grunts and thumps. The level of difficulty is set quite hard, so beginners watch out - you will be frustrated (I was).

If you loved games like Captive, Dungeon Master and their ilk, then no doubt you'll have already got your coat out to rush down the shops. Forget the title 'Knightmare' - think of the game more as a Dungeon Master for the 90s.


Knightmare logo

The smash hit TV series makes its second appearance on the computer games scene. But can Tony Crowther's Captive game system make Knightmare the kind of game you lose sleep over?

Treguard is a very nice man, a very, very nice man. He always pops up just when you need him, to offer, friendly but cryptic advice in ITV's Knightmare. Now he's changed the format to help game playing mortals who fancy a crack at the second computer interpretation of this successful TV show. His help is need, badly. The game is designed around the Captive adventure system and has cracking credentials, uniting an excellent licence with a proven code. The result is strong, but once past the titles it has suspiciously little to do with the TV programme.

Captive audience?
Captive players will immediately feel in control of Knightmare. The system that drives the game essentially uses the same icon and keyboard commands as Captive, with improvements and tweaks where necessary. The four man teams can be driven either by clicking on directional icons or keypad combinations. Clicking on anything with the left mouse button, gets or activates it, while the right is employed to initiate party actions. It's a simple system to learn, but offers enough flexibility to fill four huge dungeons with tests of precise control.

The four members of the Knightmare team all have different skills and specialties. Controlled from a cluster of icons they can be clothed, checked and changed to suit any strategy. They've an empty backpack in which to carry the kit they find and two hand 'slots' for those all important items - like weapons.

Unlike Captive, or any other first-person perspective role-playing game, the character's hands in Knightmare don't just 'use' an object when you click them into action. First of all a click brings up a menu of all the actions possible with that object: knives, for example, offer stab, swing and hack. These can be preset so no delay is encountered when it's required. And it's not big or clever to start fiddling about with menus when there's a 10-foot hobglobin trying to rip out your spleen.

Even the magic system is driven in this way, neatly sidestepping the need for a submenu screen. All spells must come from wands and their menus get larger as the wizard's skills improve. Different wands become available progressively, offering you the chance to cast wilder magic and the designer to ensure magic's restricted where necessary. Just like weapons, selected spells can be preset. So all you have to watch when 'it' hits the fan is your wizard's remaining points.

Character control is what Knightmare tests, and you have to be swift to survive,. The keyboard/icon mix works well, with the left hand physically walking the team via the numeric keypad while the right guides the cursor to control actions. Mistakes means death, so every action that you preset must be thoroughly thought through or menu messes are guaranteed when the blood starts to flow. Use the system well however and foes are swiftly dispatched.

TV Format
Evidence of the TV's influence is profuse, but superficial. The plot is true to the TV format, supplying you with foes and a motive for play. Treguard pops up as Orcales, to warn of danger or set your next goal. You're on a mission to scour the dungeons of Dunshelm for the Shield of Justice, Sword of Freedom, Cup of Life and Crow of Glory, while your major foes are the FrightKnight and Lord Fear.

These elements set the tone, they even dictate the look, but not the way it plays. It is finely tuned to test you at all times and stresses puzzles more than its predecessor: Captive. While wandering the wilderness area above the four dungeons you may be fooled into thinking this is the world of Knightmare. Enter the first tunnel though, and it becomes clear this is the domain of the programmer, not Treguard.

Knightmare doesn't pull its punches, mistakes are punished ferociously. You start the game wandering three areas of wilderness and during this respite you're expected to master the game's controls. It isn't a threat-free area, but the hassles are sparse enough for you to become familiar enough with their functions and layout. The first quest you have to complete is unannounced but implicit - finding the dungeon you're supposed to explore!

Roaming through the hedgerows without a compass gets confusing. It's not difficult, especially if you map from the word go, but sudden action or changes of focus can leave your disorientated. The slowish pace at the start could also disillusion you before the main game gets a chance to show off!

Nightmare!
Once 'safely' entombed in the corridors of the dungeon, Knigthmare goes into a higher gear. Monsters lurk around most corners to test mouse speed in combat, wile the puzzles begin to stretch your cerebral powers. The tunnels are an interconnecting maze. Locked doors restrict movement until the correct key or switch is found. They start as simple tests with the key for the next door hidden at the extremes of the currently accessible network. These evolve, with hidden switches introduced to ensure you're paying attention.

The pace of the game is forced by the creatures who lay in wait. These are intelligent and tough beasts who don't warn to becoming sword fodder. In a straight fight the result is never a certainty, with death a real possibility. Each has been placed to meet the party at a specific point in the game, so they match the party's power almost perfectly.

With no walk over opponents, each battle is plagued with doubt. Can your fighter take another hit? Should the last magic be used or saved? If you run, where do you run to? Your team should have a slight edge, if they are used with maximum efficiency. Make a mistake, or fail to recognise the power of a magic item and you're dead meat! There are a few straight-up fights and you're warned but outnumbered. So a tactical approach is needed if you're to win through with a full team.

Knightmare's gameplay teeters on unplayability tough. Importantly, though, it never falls. As each encounter has been precisely weighed you must match that precision to win. One slip during battle, one tactical oversight or missed hidden switch will prove fatal. However, the frustration of failure and the danger of combat only heighten the feeling of satisfaction when a tough beast is beaten.

Team spirit
Knightmare has a frustrating but compulsive edge. Despite spending half of any game cursing at its relentless aggression, Knightmare does have strange compulsion. Despite its ability to totally destroy your team and their hopes time after time, you still find yourself coming back for another go.

The game doesn't help its cause though, with its unfriendly save system. It's easy enough to save a party and position at any time in the game, it's the loading that's a problem. Knightmare has been deliberately designed to discourage liberal use of save and load. Within the game you can only load a saved game initially after booting or if the party dies. In this way it was hoped to force a more careful style of adventuring. However admirable this first sounds as gameplay theory, in practice it soon grows into an irritating chore.

If one battle caused enough damage to kill one of your characters and leaves everybody else shattered, it's annoying. It's also fair to assume that the next fight will be even harder. The choice of whether to load up a saved game or slough on should be yours whether to 'cheat' or not. The safeguard isn't even strong enough to work effectively, it just forces you to kill the remaining members of a team to access the load option.

Knightmare's other irritations are minor compared to the loading problem. The lack of a compass is less of a hindrance once the party go underground, but it still causes occasional moments of complete confusion. Experienced adventurers should have no problem here, but folk who aren't veterans when they first play have to become one real quick or give up.

The ability to choose specific actions other than merely 'use' can sometimes prove a blessing too. If teams are prepared and no slips occur during combat, it's a fast and effective system. One error or missed click, though, can unbalance the finely weighted combat and give monsters a fatal advantage. Accidentally calling up a menu and not an action is time consuming in a time-critical situation. Again the game theory is sound - reward the skilful player and punish the clumsy - but the penalty you have to pay for mistakes is high.

Hard but fair?
Knightmare plays fast and hard. As dungeon romps go, few can match it for the continuous ferocity of its assaults on your party's lives. Each encounter is tailored to suit your team's status, so the game runs in a state of perpetual high tension. Success in this environment feels like an achievement, but failure is both frustrating and far more common.

An element of frustration can drive players on to try again or rethink their current tactics. It can focus the thinking and hone the player's style to suit the game system. Extreme levels of irritation however ruin games. Knightmare manages to stay on the right side of the frustration line - just, but there are times when the account appears overdue.

What we have here is a precisely balanced game that requires maximum effort at all times. Every spouse of corridor must be checked on all sides at all times, each character must be watched to ensure that they are ready for unexpected combat. Every battle must be thoroughly prepared for, adapting proven tactics to suit current needs. All the puzzles and riddles that inform your quest must be analysed and solved.

In terms of a strict translation from TV show to computer Knightmare is far from a convincing success. As a highly polished game in its own right it is a definite success. A finely balanced affair Knightmare continually pushes players harder and faster. It accelerates from a tough start to plain hard real fast, and that means that you need to either be a dungeon expert or a quick learner to stand a chance.

The frustrating process of loading in saved games soon becomes a familiar one, highlighting the steep difficulty curve. But if you've patience and fancy a heavy duty underground bash then check out Knightmare. If you've a low frustration threshold then...


WHAT'S AN RPG, MATE?
RPG stands for Role Playing Game. It's a computer game developed from adventure board-games like the very famous Dungeons and Dragons. The player takes on the persona of an adventurer in a party moving through a mythical landscape. The main game mechanics are puzzle-solving and a mostly random combat system, based in the original on rolls of the dice. Classic RPGs include Dungeon Master and Knightmare's excellent space-based predecessor, Captive.

Knightmare logo

Uns Rollenspieler kann man normalerweise mit einer Umsetzung nicht überraschen - Pen-and-Paper-Spielsysteme oder berühmte Romane dienten oft genug als Vorlage. Aber eine TV-Serie? Ja, geht das denn überhaupt?!

Warum nicht, schließlich hat sich Mindscape ja nicht "Ehen vor Gericht" oder "Pumuckel" vorgeknöpft, sondern die englische Vorabend-Reihe "Knightmare". Und die bietet sich für ein Computer-Rollenspiel förmlich an: Hier treten nämlich jeweils vier Kids im Fernsehstudio gegen die fiesesten Bösewichte an, indem sie einen der ihren mit verbundenen Augen in den Kampf (= in ein leeres Zimmer) schicken. Auf dem Monitoren der drei Zurückgebliebenen werden dann die Aufnahmen des Vierten geschickt mit computergenerierten Umgebungen (Dungeons usw.) vermischt, so daß ein ziemlich realistischer Eindruck entsteht. Tja, und nun wird der arme blinde Kämpfer halt vor den Augen der versammelten TV-Nation von seinen Kollegen gesteuert...

Ganz so funktioniert die Sache am Amiga natürlich nicht, stattdessen dirigiert man hier vier ganz gewöhnliche und durchaus sehfähige Recken durch die Labyrinthe. Die vorgefertigten Helden machen in wiederum vier (scheint 'ne magische Zahl zu sein) Teilquests Jagd auf Zauber-Items wie das Shield of Justice, um am Schluß mit deren gesammelter Power den üblen Lord Fear (vier!?) und seinen frechen Blechknecht, den Fright-Knight, zu zerbröseln. Das alles spielt sich auf einem übersichtlichen Hauptscreen ab: Balkenanzeigen informieren über den Zustand der Fear-Vernichter, Richtungsicons ermöglichen eine bequeme Maussteuerung, und für Waffen oder andere "Handhelds" sind auch genügend Plätze reserviert. Der Inventory-Screen ist durch simplen Klick schnell zugänglich, und auch das intelligente, actionbetonte Kampfsystem (gewisse Ähnlichkeiten mit "Eye of the Beholder" sind unübersehbar) weiß zu gefallen.

Vor allem aber erfreut das 3D-Fenster mit stimmungsvollen Grafiken und schon aus der Ferne sichtbaren Monstern! Nicht ganz so toll, aber immer noch recht ordentlich sind die wenigen Musikstücke und gelegentlichen FX im Spiel. Ja, sogar der berühmte englische Humor fehlt nicht - wo sonst darf man Killer-Karnickel mit Tennisbällen vermöbeln?

So weit, so gut. Aber warum bloß kommt einem alles so merkwürdig vertraut vor? Darum: Knightmare verdanken wir Tony Crowther, und der hat hier der Einfachheit halber das Grafik- und Steuersystem seines SF-Rollis "Captive" übernommen. Dagegen wäre ja nicht einzuwenden, nur hat der gute Tony vergessen, die Fehler seines Frühwerks auszumerzen - genau wie bei "Captive" wird der Spieler gleich zu Beginn von allzu harten Rätselnüssen überfallen, auf die ihn die Anleitung nur mangelhaft vorbereitet hat. Diesmal ist das sogar doppelt schlimm, weil Knightmare in Bezug auf Thema und Storyhintergrund wohl eher für etwas jüngere Abenteuer gedacht ist. Der Schwierigkeitsgrad müsste also genaugenommen lauten: für Wunderkinder... (jn)


Knightmare logo

If you're looking for a new, more magical, Captive, your're in the right place, if, however, you're a fan of the tv show...

Mmmm. Being the resident 'weirdo who likes this sort of thing', it's no surprise to find myself reviewing this sort of thing. Maybe the FRP revolution hasn't quite reached the other members of AMIGA POWER just yet.
And so w come to the Captive game that isn't. Written by Tony Crowther (Mr Captive himself) and, indeed, using the very same player interface and game structure, the big difference here is with the scenario. Whereas Captive was very obviously a cross between Dungeon Master and the film Aliens, Knightmare purports to be a game based directly on the cult(ish) kid's TV series - I say purports because I've got a couple of very real problems with the way it's been done which I'll get to in a minute.

What it actually comes across as is Dungeon Master without the Aliens aspect - just straight Dungeon Master in fact - the elements of the TV show we can find (Treguard and that weird elf kid), two TV characters who make quite a few appearances) tacked on afterwards. Even Mr Crowther admits that he was much more interested in writing a DM-style game than trying to stick rigidly to the format of the programme, which makes yu wonder why anyone bothered getting the licence in the first place.

So what of the game itself? Well, fans of Dungeon Master, Captive, Eye Of The Beholder et al will have no trouble getting straight into it - the player interface is remarkably similar. Those drawn in by the 'Knightmare' tag (particularly the younger viewers who actually watch the show) might experience one or two problems, however - it'll prove far too complicated for them. Again, I'll get to that a bit later.

SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT (AGAIN)
What the game basically offers is a first-person (as if viewed through the characters eyes) view of the game world, which is quite simply a bunch of inter-connected squares. Various features (shrubs, walls, rail lines) are placed in each location, and viewed together as a whole, the result is akin to a 3D world. This is pretty neat - monsters can be seen lurking behind trees far of, only to wander around, eventually encountering the player's character(s) and getting into a scrap. The bad thing about this cellular mapping system is that things occasionally come across as a little contrived and blocky. Knightmare's level and quality of graphic detail copes quite well by current standards, though from what I've seen of Eye Of The Beholder 2 it's soon going to be shown up quite badly.

The Captive game system doesn't really match up to SSI's Beholder system either. Mucking around with objects and combat just feels too clumsy - I'm sure something a little more intuitive could have been sorted out. After all, re-using the Captive system was an ideal opportunity to refine it and iron out the problems, and while much has apprently been done, in practice it makes little difference.

Indeed, in many other ways - graphics aside - this seems rather over-reminiscent of Captive. Even the map layout of Knightmare is similar - the adventure begins outside in the wide open spaces, then(after solving one or two elementary problems) leads into the Dunsheim castle itself. From here on it's off into a land of maze mapping, puzzle solving and combat with hobglobins and their ilk - who said originality was dead?
If I sound just a little down about the whole thing, then it's probably because of one or two complaints.


Taken in isolation, Knightmare doesn't fare too badly

COMPLAINTS COMING RIGHT UP
One - I've seen all of it (or something remarkably similar) before.
Everybody is jumping on the fantasy role playing bandwagon right now, and while this is perfectly healthy providing each release manages to inject new elements into the genre, there's also that cloning danger which has already all but killed the shoot-'em-up (if I see another sideways scrolling one, I think I'll scream).

Knightmare doesn't really make any significant changes or improvements - just presents it all in a slightly different way - and that's a crime as far as I'm concerned.

Problem number two - the graphics are just too bitty and indistinct. Everything has been given a text look. All well and good, but when they're tiny objects littered around the place, and when everything is painted in the same colour tones, objects just blend into the background. I'd rather have slightly less 'realistic' graphics, and be able to clearly see things. Not a major complaint, but it's a complaint all the same.

Problem number three - it's got almost nothing whatsoever to do with the TV show! What is the point of getting a licence for something when the only connection you're intending to make with the game is a shared fantasy setting? Worse, you're in danger of pitching what turns out to be a fairly hard and involved example of an already fairly hard and involved genre at completely the wrong audience. It scares me to think that an eight-year old fan of the show might fork out ¨30 on the game - or have ¨30 forked out for him - when he's not even going to be able to solve the first puzzle.

It's quite clear what a Knightmare game should be like - a fun and easy fantasy role player to introduce new and younger players to the genre, perhaps not unlike Gremlin's Hero Quest - but this is a model they seem almost perversely determined to avoid here. Such foolishness!

But okay, okay, you guys read this far, so you're in little danger of buying the game because you don't realise what it is you're getting. Let's judge it on its own merits, as if it were simply a Captive sequel, say, and nothing to do with a telly programme at all. Taken in isolation, then, Knightmare doesn't fare too badly (if you like that sort of thing, but I do so that's alright). It's pretty damn huge, and the puzzles are paced at just about the right difficulty, and the right intervals - Tony Crowther has said he found Eye Of The Beholder too easy, and has made this game a lot trickier to complete.

CHARACTERS (AND LACK OF IT)
That said though, there's still a slightly fussy control system to contend with, and I've got problems with the characters. Fantasy role-playing games rely on the player identifying with his characters, or at least getting remotely emotionally attached to them.

Knightmare's characters seem to be composed of a few dull statistics and very scrappy (and inexplicably tiny) cameos. Here, watching a party of four characters die is a very cold, detached experience (kind of like watching all the Friday 13th flicks in one go) and generally they do little to promote a sense of atmosphere, so important in a game like this.

Which (and why not?) brings me onto the final bee in my bonnet. I resent having characters take damage by walking into walls (acceptable just about, but surely they'd have the sense not to bash their heads against it?) and bushes (mutant man-eating bushes perhaps?). Walk into a bush enough times and you die - what a ridiculous state of affairs. Even throwing a ball against a wall, then catching it, causes damage! If I'm supposed to believe that this hardy band of adventurers can't even catch a ball without getting beaten up by it, what hope of completing the quest, eh? I'm sorry, I know these games are all about the suspension of disbelief, but when a game is as un-user-friendly as this, I find it a little harder to bear.

This is actually quite a good product (despite my torrent of whinges), and anyone with an insatiable appetite for this sort of role playing is unlikely to be disappointed - I know some people who are very excited about the game. The fact remains, however, that it's simply not good enough in a market where SSI and co have already set the standards incredibly high. As Stuart says, "Knightmare is Treasure Island Dizzy, but without the cute graphics" - make of that sentence (or indeed Stuart) what you will, but at least he's saved me the effort of thinking up a last line for the review.


CAPTIVATED BY THE GAME SYSTEM
Knightmare: Main screen explanation
  1. The main window - this can be switched between the 3D display you see here, and the character statistics display.
  2. The four character icons - with stats in bar form.
  3. The movement arrows (including slide left/right).
  4. The left and right hands of the characters.
  5. These icons allow the game to be saved/loaded, the characters to rest, the coloures and sound altered, and all four players stats shown.

Knightmare logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Children's television: it's a wasteland of American cartoons, inane presenters, and Australian series - but who doesn't watch it when they've got a day off sick? One programme, though, will catch the eye of any role-playing enthusiast, and that's Knightmare, which uses computer imagery to transport hapless youths into a dungeon watched over by the mysterious Treguard. Mindscape snapped up the license and now Tony 'Captive' Crowther's game reaches the shops just in time for Christmas.

Superficially this is a Dungeon Master -style game, with four characters, drawn from a selection of races and professions, exploring 3D dungeons whilst combatting monsters and overcoming puzzles and traps. The party tackles four quests - or underground complexes - in search of the Shield of Justice, Sword of Freedom, Cup of Life, and Crown of Glory, and can choose the order they approach the first three (although in all honesty the player must find the Shield to get the skills required for the others).

Treguard's image is everywhere, offering advice and giving a fix on the player's location - just in case they need to get help from Mindscape - a useful feature which others should adopt.

This is where the similarity to Dungeon Master ends; the game is much closer to Captive, or even Gremlin's excellent BSS Jane Seymour, Knightmare is pretty tough, and there are no 'introductory levels'. All four sections of the game demand skill, forethought, and, most especially, careful management of resources. My party came close to dying as I hadn't paid enough attention to their food levels - so make sure they have enough spider legs to much on.

Health, Stamina and Magic are shown as bars near the character's portraits, and they are depleted through movement and combat. Sleep recuperates lost points, and if a priest casts an REM spell they are recovered much faster.

The puzzles are bizarre and typical of Crowther's weird sense of humour. Each Quest is guarded by a tree monsters who demands an object before letting anyone pass. The first request - for the tree's child to be returned - slumped (no pun intended) me for a while, until I remembered the twig I'd found earlier! Finding objects is far from easy. Because of the nature of the graphics, some items are all-but-invisible against the background; but after a while your eye becomes trained to spot objects. I walked right past a key I was searching for at least three times before locating it.

As with Captive, the players' stats can be viewed individually or in a block of four. This is very handy when checking for overburdened or injured characters. The graphics are, on the whole, attractive and full of original touches, like plant pots on the walls and flooded passageways.
Sometimes the graphics are garish, but usually they're just right. I can foresee problems for those people playing on a TV and not a monitor: as I've mentioned, the writing and other details can be obscure, although thankfully the program includes a preferences option to change colours. This doesn't help disguise the numerous spelling mistakes 'enterance' instead of 'entrance' and 'sandles' instead of 'sandals' were two I discovered.

One of my favourite parts of the game is the novel use of transport. The players whizz around in a mining cart at the beginning and then row a small boat in shark infested waters. Unlike Dungeon Master and its derivatives, Knightmare's monsters use some intelligence. If you run off and cower behind a door, don't expect the goblins or whatever to wait around forever, as they're likely to wander off and hide, launching a devastating attack when you least expect it. One of the best ways to reduce risks is to follow the manual's advice to use either headphones or a hi-fi link to bring out the best of the genuinely impressive sound - the stereo effect allows you to trace monsters very simply by following the sound of their footsteps.

Ultimately, the game leads to a confrontation with the FrightKnight and his boss Lord Fear - a fight to daunt even the toughest of adventurers. Knightmare's innovative combat/spell system succeeds, mainly because each character can be 'programmed' to perform certain tasks with a single click of the mouse, and this avoids all those tedious menu searches while a jolly green giant slaughters the party. Right and left clicks of the mouse can bring wildly different results, but a couple of minutes with it will get you in the swing of things.

A game this huge has secrets that even an in-depth review won't yield. And the fact that I'll keep playing it until I finish it speaks volumes.

I love this game. It's taxing, whimsical and, unlike most RPGs, it actually has a sense of humour. I wonder whether the use of the TV name is so wise, though? Most kids will find this too complicated and, let's be honest, not remotely like the TV series at all. The manual contains a poster of the actor who plays Treguard (I can't wait to put that up on my wall!( and an invitation to join the Knightmare Adventurers Club. Whatever the case, I'm thrilled with Knightmare; and you will be too. One of those games you just cannot put down.


LEVEL BEST As the characters progress they learn to improve their skills. Starting off a novice, moving through tenderfoot, adepth, and up to master, the blossom into Gladiators, Priests, and so on. Practice makes perfect, so it's a good idea to pass that magic wand around the party once in a while to give everyone the opportunity to increase levels. At first, only one or two options will be available: stabbing with a knife, for example, or opening a door with a spell.
RABBITS FROM HELL In the forest that marks the beginning to the quests, cute bunnies are seen frolicking in the meadows. Don't be deceived - these buggers are vicious. Hack away at them whenever possible, as you're awarded with a rabbit pie. Later on, when the party comes back wearied from its Quest, you might find that the rabits have been up to their usual habits and that the whole place will be crawling with them. So lob some holy hand grenades to get rid of them, and make Monty Python proud.
MUSIC TO MY EARS When creating the music and effects, Mindscape travelled to Anlia Television in deepest, darkest Norfolk, in order to make use of their audio department. Although more than half-a-meg is needed to get the best out of the game (along with headphones or connection to a stereo as described elsewhere), even through a mono speaker the results are fabulous. Invest in some extra memory (owners of the 500 Plus will be pleased to know it's fully compatible) and a stereo lead - you'll be surprised at the difference in atmosphere.
CAPTIVE AUDIENCE Captive, Tony Crowther's previous venture into RPGs, topped the charts and was also voted Adventure Game of the Year in 1990. Set in the far future, the task is to guide robots through worlds with the aid of a portable super-computer. While the catacombs in Captive were computer-generated, Knightmare's dungeons were designed by hand, making the overall design much smoother.

Knightmare logo Zero Hero

Tony 'On The Roof' Crowther was the chap behind last year's 'game of the year' Captive. Michael Horsham was the chap behind the sofa with Doris Stokes at last year's Christmas party. For his penance, we gave him Knightmare to review.

Based on Anglia TV's smasheroonie Friday show of the same name, Knightmare is a role-playing, puzzle-o-matic load of riddles and puzzles. True to the accepted format of this type of game, the entire thing revolves around a quest. Now, quests are the stuff of which legends are made - look at King Arthur and the Holy Grail, or even Nigel Mansell and the Formula One Championship. Knightmare is no exception to the rule which states that in the world of games, mystery and imagination, the quest is the thang. It would also be true to say that Knightmare has more to do with a King Arthur-type quest than Mansell bombing around Zandvoort on a souped-up skateboard.

The player is placed in control of a group of four beings whose breed, profession and dexterity are determined by a spot of mouse-clicking on the relevant screen. This is called up easily enough as the game begins. Characters are then given names along the lines of Dickon The Smallside, Nigel The Manse or whatever moniker takes your fancy. Then, suitably dressed, they are plunged into a nightmarish scenario which calls upon every ounce of reserve and derring-do they can muster.

Amiga reviewMichael:The thing about is that it tends to take a damnably long time to orientate yourself in the world in which the action is taking place, and I must confess: time was not on my side. Neither were the assortment of elfin evil-merchants, worrysome wood-spirits and 'orrible ogres I had to contend with in my quest for the sword, crown, etc, etc.

Anyway, I had a good stab at it (in more ways than one) and managed to walk around the place reasonably easily. As it turns out, Knightmare looks like a bit of a corker. Among many others, one of the big plus points of this game is its useability. The player works from a screen dominated by a biggish view-window, inside which most of the action takes place. The foresty bits and dungeons are rendered nicely, with some high-quality graphics which really add to the atmosphere.

As you'd expect, controlling the game with the mouse is simplicity itself. It doesn't take long to get to grips with the range of information available on each of your four team-mates either. Another big plus is the quality of the sound, which has been sampled from the original bank of noises created by the TV people to enhance the ambience of their hit show. Needless to say, it works wonders for the game, too!

The characters are activated as a group by a directional control-cluster down in the right-hand corner of the screen. This allows for walking and looking about, as well as kicking, punching and swinging with the weapons you pick up on the way. The status of each team member can also be called-up at the click of a button, revealing their health, stamina and degree of magical ability. Using the 'other side' of the same screen reveals the location and severity of specific injuries and the contents of each member's backpack.

The game bowls along with lots of incidents to keep you amused and entertained. The action proved to be an enjoyable mixture of straightforward fisticuffs and brainiac-style brow furrowing.
An addictive game for addictive personalities - yes indeedy! Stop