ARE you handy with a mouse but a slow and painful typist? If so, then Mirrorsoft has all sorts of adventures for you. One set in the classic mould of dungeons and dragons is Shadowgate.
You may have to type in a few words when speaking to something or when naming a saved game, but for the rest it is all mouse controlled, dragging and clicking on a wide range of well drawn icons that enable you to do almost anything.
You start with very little useful information about the task ahead. All you know is that you are the last of a long line of ancient kings, and a prophecy foretells that the faste of the world is in your hands.
You must overcome the dreaded Warlock Lord and stop him from fulfilling his plan to destroy the world with his dark magic. The good wizard Lakmir is not able to give you any assistance other than transport you to the doors of Shadowgate.
Once a shining fortress, standing for all that was good and pure in the realm. Shadowgate has fallen under the Warlock's power. Here he will attempt his evil deeds. This is humanity's last chance: are you strong enough in mind and body to challenge his might?
Although distributed by Mirrorsoft, Shadowgate is a Mindscape production, programmed by ICOM Simulations. Originally written for the Apple, its implementation on the Amiga realises the full potential of the system.
The screen display consists of a number of windows, the largest being a representation of your present location. Alongside is an inventory window displaying all you are carrying as graphic icons. A smaller window to the right shows any visible exits.
A scrolling text display lies across the bottom of the screen and at the top is a box with the eight main commands: Examine, open, close, speak, operate, go, hit and consume. A pull-down menu enables you to select save/load game position, together with quit or the option to begin the game again.
The main location pictures are often quite detailed, and moving the mouse pointer across them and clicking on interesting areas will reveal all sorts of things. Any items found may be picked up by clicking on the object and dragging it into the inventory window. To drop them simply drag them back into the main picture.
Clicking on one of the command words and then on an object in either the location or inventory windows will cause that command to be actioned on the item chosen. Most of the commands are obvious but "operate" has many uses. Select a key in the inventory, then operate, then a door, and the door will be unlocked.
Take care in which order you operate objects. The right way and you may well have your sword at the ready, the wrong way and you have just committed suicide with it. Use the save game option regularly as it is easy to get killed. Torches burn away with monotonous regularity and it is easy to use them up as you explore all the possibilities of a location. A saved game will help here too.
Apart from getting past the first two locations - look in the skull - your initial problem is to get enough light to see by. There are plenty of torches and you must light a new one before the old one has gone out, as you do not have any matches. Once over these basics, examine everything you can think of, including the torches.
The graphics are very good and some of the animated scenes use plenty of the Amiga's potential. The sound effects are also well up to present standards. The game itself is one of finding and using the right object at the right time. There are usually some clues around but they are often more obvious after the event than before. Plenty of experimentation is called for; learn from your sometimes painful mistakes.
Although not cheap, Shadowgate will provide days of puzzlement. The operating system works well and at least you will not have to search for the right command words - just try everything. But above all keep your eyes open for anything that is the slightest bit unusual.