The people of Spielburg valley need a hero. A true champion of the weak, who is valiant in battle. Reckon you fit the bill?
Hero's Quest begins with a decision as to what sort of hero you want to be. Fighters are stereotypes with broadsword, shield and brain damage. Magic users are the intellectual types - they start off as wimps but build up a decent collection of spells and can swagger with confidence. Thieves are devious, skulking about shadows with a lockpick at the ready...
Rather than your Amiga randomly deciding the character's abilities - strength, intelligence, agility, etc - you assign a meagre collection of points onto a standard profile (so fighters are always better than average in close combat, but you can stick some extra points on for overkill). This makes hero design much more satisfying: custom heroes!
Getting into the game is easy. Spielburg is located in Spielburg valley, a large playing area with plenty of spooky woods, caves and inhabitants. You move around the three dimensional on-screen scenery; press the key or move the mouse and your hero stomps off in that direction until an obstacle gets in the way.
Remember text adventure games? The computer gives a description, asks "What now?" and then you type in your responses. Hero's Quest lets you type in commands at any time, which freezes anything that's happening on the screen - even combat.
Therefore, you can stroll up to anyone or anything you see and try to start up a conversation. There's no need to hack everything you meet into quivering little lumps, unlike such games as Bard's Tale.
Monsters are classified into four categories: the Humanoids, the Inhumanoids, the Undead and the Unknown. The handbook lists a few little pointers that indicate it's a monster you're facing; if it oozes green ichor, eats people, collects half-eaten corpses, drools, gibbers or slavers, attacks without provocation, twitches tentacles or will not eat spinach - it's a monster!
The combat is simple in principle, but difficult to master. A view appears, from over your hero's shoulder. Depending whether the monster is at close range or distance you have six manoeuvres to choose from: thrust, swing, duck, dodge, shield block and parry.
Whenever the pointer symbol on the screen flashes, you must press the relevant key for the action you want. This introduces thought into combat, as you have to see what your opponent is doing before making your move. Blast-em-up fans like to hammer on all the buttons, and get confused when they end up dead. You have to think more about this combat system.
Combat is only a part of the game. At first, the player explores as much as possible, talks to peple, meets the odd Dryad (that's a good bit) and can even take a job at a stables. Later, the quests have to be solved, adventures have to be completed - life in Spielburg is complicated.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The 3D locations look good. It's not just the quality; the number of scenes to explore is enormous. A few more frames of animation, in places, would have been the icing on the cake. Sound is used more subtly, with birds twittering away, a couple of musical themes and the occasional din of battle - bit of a let down there but not enough to make the game less enjoyable.
Loads of disk swapping is the only hassle. To see a world come to life is amazing: to play only a part of it and try to overcome all the problems and share the triumphs of becoming ahero is a long-term (and fun) way of spending time. Lots of puzzles, an adrenalin rush when a monster appears and a definite goals are what real adventurers need.
Just to call this a game is inadequate: it's a five-