Loom logo

Publisher: Lucasfilm
Price: £24.99

IT was long after the passing of the second shadow, a time when huge dragons ruled the twilight skies, that human-kind began to thirst once more for domination over nature. Their weapon in the fight was industry, a skill they wielded with great confidence. As man unravelled the mysteries of light and darkness his power and knowledge grew in accordance. Soon, entire nations believed nothing lay beyond the powers of their own arrogance.

Competition proved fierce, skilled labour was a valuable commodity and tradesmen joined together in order to protect their valuable secrets. These professional societies swelled as their memberships grew and a few of them, notably the blacksmiths and clerics, acquired vast territories with private armies to defend them. Thus the age of the Great Guilds was born.

One guild, the weavers, were not interested in the acquisition of land and greatness; they simply wanted to advance their art. In an effort to break away from the rest of mankind, they isolated themselves on an island that became known as Loom.

As time passed, the weavers did indeed advance their skills. In fact, the art of weaving more than improved - it become magical! By spinning the threads in certain ways, the guild members found they could cast different spells.

Using the great loom, the guild wave great magical tapestries until one day a young female weaver managed to weave a child. Rather than welcoming this magical event, the Elders of the Guild became angry.

They banished the young woman from the island of Loom and the babe was taken into care. Seventeen years have passed, the weavers' magic has begun to fail. The Loomchild has been summoned by the Elders, the adventure has begun.

Loom is unique among adventures. Like some games, there is no text input. Control is via the mouse, using a simple point and click technique. Magic is a key part of the game and spells are cast by forming combinations of musical notes found upon your mystical Distaff.

You play the role of Bobbin, the Loomchild. The sacred loom has been broken and the magical powers of the weavers are beginning to wane. Your mission is to venture into the industrial world to discover the reason behind these strange happenings.

Only when you prove successful in your task will the island of Loom be restored to its former glory.


Loom logo

LUCASFILM/US GOLD £24.99 * Mouse

Loom, n. an apparatus used for weaving yarn into textile. vb (intr) 1. to come into view indistinctly, with an enlarged and often threatening aspect 2. to seem ominously close.
Definitions which all set the scene for Lucasfilm's latest offering, an adventure about weavers in a land where the final apocalypse threatens doom.

The world has become split into Guild factions, a system by which each and every trade has closeted itself away and is busy refining its art. The mightiest of these Guilds are the Weavers. They've discovered that as well as cloth they can weave reality, with songs replacing the shuttle. Their power centres on a huge loom, where they've attempted to stay Armageddon by reworking the great pattern of life itself.

You take the role of Bobbin, a young weaver who was conjured from the Great Loom and who therefore has massive magical potential. The loom has been attacked and all the Weavers except Bobbin have fled from the Weavers' island, so you must guide Bobbin in his bid to find the lost Guild, learn their art and save the world into the bargain. Not bad for a beginner!

Weavers use an eight-note scale to weave magic. Using a special 'distaff' they simply sing notes in a certain order and - shazzam! - the spell takes effect. The Weavers train their vocal abilities to control and to sing higher, more powerful notes.
Learning to sing, then, is Bobbin's first task: he must find some songs, called drafts, to employ.

Getting a staff is no problem: the fleeing elders have conveniently left a magic distaff behind. Then, by observing and listening to various creatures, people and objects, Bobbin can hear the music of the universe, which are effectively songs he can copy to weave magic himself.

While exploring the Isle of Loom and beyond, Bobbin is continually faced with situations that can only be resolved with use of a draft. The game is designed so the correct magic is always either a lateral thought away, or available for learning on site. Bobbin's never unavoidably stuck; he may have the right spell but be casting it the wrong way around - singing a spell backwards often has the opposite effect - or the object he wants to affect may 'sing' the right song itself, if he listens carefully enough.

Loom has an innocent charm, dealing with sorcery in an original and amusing fashion, and it is very funny in pats. Bizarre problems can have bizarre solutions, so it pays to learn even the most stupid drafts. Dyeing wool green seems pretty useless, but it could save your lamb - sorry, bacon - later. The use of 'twee' sound magic should be naff, but with flexible graphics, challenging puzzles and witty comments, Loom soon weaves into an adventure that demands to be finished.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Loom is head and shoulders above most graphic adventures. The screens often scroll (albeit slowly) and the characters have perspective, disappearing up hillsides or down into valleys. Bobbin's well drawn and is intelligent enough to move around objects to reach locations; the point-an-click mouse movement system is very easy to implement. The examined item box' helps by showing a detailed picture of any item which can be manipulated. Spells are cast by simply clicking the notes or the distaff itself to conjure music.

Any game which features the work of Tchaikovsky and has a 30-minute audio tape in the box should be impressive. The tape is excellent, with some 'in game music' on the back of the story. The noise that the Amiga's asked to chuck out ain't up to the same standard, however. It's good, but is one of those annoying tunes that you find yourself humming even though you hate it. Sound, however, also plays an unnaturally large part in the 'expert' mode of play. In either 'training' or 'normal' mode you've a bar of music that lights up when you hear a spell, a massive help for the non-musical amongst us who can then jot down the right notes. On expert level only the distaff glows as music plays and you must recreate the spell by ear!

LASTING INTEREST

Staying power, aye, there lies the rub, as a certain Danish prince never said. Loom is highly finishable, a fact that cuts both ways. Most adventures seem more like a life sentence than a game, but any committed player will be watching Loom's end sequence the week they buy it. To give Loom a longer life there are three difficulty settings, yet after completing it on an easy level it's debatable whether the same game in a harder mode merits another crack. The notes that comprise each draft do change and singing a spell is harder when woven directly on the distaff. This makes life hard, but not impossible, as by now you'll know which spells are needed and where to get them.

THE VERDICT

Loom is a highly enjoyable package with its visually theme spell book, 30-minute audio tape and great gameplay. As an adventure it's ideal for beginners because of its friendliness: Bobbin cannot die for example. The mix of finishability, excellent graphics and good sound, spiced with an innocent wit, appears to make Loom a brilliant package. The overall length of playing time, however, calls its staying power into question: a factor that eventually just manages to spoil one of the most enjoyable treatments of the wizards and magic theme ever to hit the screen.


Loom logo

Lucasfilm-Adventures haben ihren guten Ruf zu Recht, stets sind es technisch ausgereifte Spiele voller Phantasie und hintergründigem Humor. So auch der jüngste Streich des Star Wars Produzenten, der nun endlich auch in der Amiga Version vorliegt.

Loom ist eine ganz eigene Mixtur; ein bißchen Adventure, ein Schuß Rollenspiel und jede Menge Atmosphäre! Schon der erste Blick in die voluminöse Box fördert eine Überraschung zutage: neben der Anleitung, dem unabdingbaren Zauberbuch und den drei Disketten lieft da eine Musikkassette. Darauf befindet sich die Vorgeschichte als astreines Hörspiel, komplett mit Musik, Dialogen, Geräuschen und einer theatralischen Frauenstimme als Erzählerin - selbstverständlich alles in deutsch, genau wie der Rest des Games. Die originelle Story berichtet vom Zeitalter der großen Gilden, insbesondere der Gilde der magischen Weber.

Um dem Neid der übrigen Welt zu entgehen, haben sich die Weber einst auf die kleine Insel Loom zurückgezogen, wo sie nach ihren strengen Sitten und Gebräuchen leben. Doch die Idylle steht kurz vor dem Zusammenbruch: Weil die Ältesten seit Äonen keine Neuzugänge auf ihrem Eiland dulden, sind die Weber praktisch unfruchtbar geworden; ihre Kinder kommen meist tot zur Welt. Zu allem Überfluß wurden kürzlich auch noch sämtliche Einwohner in Schwäne verwandelt, allein der 17jährige Bobbin Threadbare entging diesem Schicksal. Jetzt liegt die Zukunft der Weber in den Händen des Knaben - eine märchenhafte Odyssee beginnt...

Der Spieler steuert Bobbin mit der Maus durch die Fantasy-Welt, im Gegensatz zu früheren Lucasfilm-Spielen kommt Loom vollkommen ohne Worteingaben aus. Auch werden hier keine Gegenstände aufgesammelt und weiter verwendet, das einzige Hilfsmittel zur Lösung der Rätsel ist Bobbins magischer Webstab. Mit diesem unscheinbaren Knüppel kann man nämlich ganz prächtig zaubern, die passenden Sprüche wollen allerdings erst im Verlauf des Spiels erlernt werden. Und noch eine Neuerung: In Loom kann man praktisch nicht sterben! All das kommt dem Spielfluß sehr zugute, die Wanderschaft durch die herrlich stimmungsvollen Grafiken saugt einen förmlich in die Geschichte. Der Nachteil bei der Sache ist, daß leider selbst unbedarfte Abenteurer das Game in zwei bis drei Sitzungen durchspielen können.

Dennoch ist Loom ein echtes Erlebnis, das sich eigentlich kein Computer-Spieler entgehen lassen sollte, allen voran die Neulinge im Adventure-Geschäft. Eine wunderschöne Geschichte, in Verbindung mit einfachster Handhabung, wunderbaren Musikstücken und sauber animierten Bildern (samt jeder Menge optischer Gags) machen Loom zu einem der sehens- und Spielenswertesten Games überhaupt. Lediglich gegen Ende wird die Geschichte ein kleines Bißchen langatmig, da dann die "Film-Szenen" auf die der Spieler keinen Einfluß hat., etwas überhand nehmen. Ansonsten ist es wirklich zu schade, daß das Vergnügen so kurzes ist! (ml)


Loom logo CU Screen Star

Every dog has its day, as the saying goes, and it looks like Lucasfilm's finest day has dawned. To my mind they have always been second best to Sierra, but Loom turns all available tables and puts the George Lucas on a pedestal which Sierra are going to be had pushed to dislodge him from.

You begin the game in the hall of the great loom armed with the magical staff of the Elders and a duck who just happens to be the magically reformed embodiment of your mother! The key to solving the game revolves around the staff and your own musical range. Spells are cast by playing small patterns of notes. As you gain experience, your "vocabulary" of tones increases, and so does your magical capability.

Loom has to be one of the most professionally presented games I've seen outside of the Ultima series. Along with the massive box and obligatory dozen story-and-spell books, you get a free hour-long Loom album, recorded at Skywalker ranch, containing an aural dramatisation of the story plus thirty minutes of excellent synth music.

The game has been designed in such a way that you can never get stuck in a situation. Also you can't die. Mistakes can be corrected too. Three plus points for such a large and involving arcade adventure. The puzzles aren't entirely logical, and a lot of them are far from obvious, but there are no 'stupid' or patronising problems. Bear in mind there are a lot of clues scattered about, and most of them aren't physically connected to the task in hand, so making notes is a necessity, as is map-making.

The only thing wrong with Loom is that experienced adventurers may find it too simple. An entertaining and wholly original game, and a real step up for Lucasfilm. Just goes to show what can be done with a little effort.


The enclosed audio cassette lays the scene in true Lucas-style, powerful, swelling music and dramatic dialogue. In days of old, when magic reigned life was peaceful and harmonious. However, a small minority of people decided equality wasn't enough. Competition then ravaged the society and friendships between tradesmen was torn apart as almost everybody fought for supremacy. Huge guilds were created, wars raged and magic was all but abandoned in place of skilled labour.

Only the weavers remained peaceful. They had no interest in bettering anybody and remained faithful to their traditional magical secrets. Initially, the magic was woven into the beautiful fabrics they created, which explains why they could command such a high price for them. In time the weavers learned to control the magic themselves, without the looms and spindles, and became feared and revered. The base of the power came from a massive loom located in the centre of the weavers' second village. All was well until chaos entered the loom.

Needless to say, a chaotic loom is something to be avoided, and the inhabitants of the village escaped and relocated. Unfortunately, they did this without telling anybody, and that includes you. As a junior weaver you have a simple choice. Calm the loom or escape.

Gamewise, Loom is radically different from any of the previous Lucasfilm adventures. The "word-jigsaw" system, where commands were built up by piecing words together has been replaced by a far simpler mouse system. Everything is done by clicking on objects on screen, with the exception of casting spells, which is carried out by pointing at a row of notes at the bottom of the screen, underneath the main display window.

The main window always shows a third person view of your current surroundings. The graphic system has been vastly improved, as has the sound, making it much more of an Amiga product than their earlier efforst, which were little more than PC ports. All objects and locations are instantly recognisable, making the puzzles in the game a lot easier to solve than previous games. No more hunting for a certain object and missing it simply because it doesn't look like what it is. And that's an achievement for which Lucasfilm should feel proud...


Loom logo

Lucasfilm/US Gold, Amiga £29.99

Okay, okay, I'm a bit late with this one - well you do want a thorough review don't you? Not the five minute jobbies offered by other, inferior mags?

Written by ex-Infocom man, Brian Moriarty, Loom presents you with another of Lucasfilm's animated graphic adventures in the tradition of Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones. The main difference, though, is that Loom uses a unique musical interface to aid puzzle solving.

You are Bobbin, a member of the Guild of Weavers: a secluded race who actually weave the fabric of reality to create spells. They do this by the use of a staff, or distaff, which utilises short musical pieces to effect the spell.

The highly original, and rather involved storyline, culminates in the prospect of you, Bobbin, a 17-year old Weaver, having to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the whole Weaver race. Can you prevent the chaos which will surely follow?

Clues and objects are found by searching the screen with the mouse. When the cursor sweeps through a designated area a small cameo picture appears at the bottom of the screen. Click once to keep it there and click on the cameo to access any information it may contain. I do have reservations about collecting clues in this way but I must say that Lucasfilm's system works fine.

However, the game is centred around its musical interface which is innovative and brings a new dimension to computer games. To 'weave' the spell for opening, for example, you must type in the four required notes, via the keyboard. Type the correct sequence and the spell is initiated. You'll have lots of fun trying out different combinations of spells on unlikely objects.

The game comes with three levels of difficulty, which all affect how much help you are given with the musical interface. I'd certainly recommend Expert Level as you'll get the most out of the game this way - not to mention a bonus animation sequence.

Loom may be criticised for being too easy, especially for the money you're paying. This is a fair comment but Loom is a wonderful experience. Graphically and aurally excellent coupled with the superb scene setting cassette that's included, Loom manages to exude a refreshing innocence reminiscent of the classic Disney films. Sit back and let it flow all over you.