1987
Arcade: Action
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

120
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Some heroes don't know when they're well off. Having once escaped the scaly clutches of Singe the dragon, Dirk the Daring returns to the Dragon's Lair in search of a pot of gold - will the man do anything for money? Deep beneath the castle's stony walls, the Lizard King now holds sway, jealously guarding the pot of gold Dirk so desires. Cunning and ruthless, this reptile lord has set traps and problems for anyone so foolish, or brave enough to enter his domain. Before Dirk can possess the gold, he must successfully pass through seven screens.

Dirk begins his journey in a boat, floating down a river pierced by saw-toothed rocks. Hurtling downstream, Dirk follows a course marked by arrows, and paddles quickly to the left and right avoiding the boulders. Contact with a boulder smashes Dirk's boat and flings him headlong into the turbulent water. When the boulders have been successfully negotiated, dangerous whirlpools move across Dirk's path.

Now drier, Dirk must survive Boulder Alley. A giant boulder chases after him, and others sweep down from the enclosing walls. Dirk must avoid these whilst leaping the holes that gape suddenly beneath him.

With Boulder Alley cleared, Dirk arrives in the throne room of the Lizard King. Here his only welcome comes from frying electric bolts, and a grabbing black hand which Dirk despatches with his sword. To leave the room Dirk must sit upon the throne itself.
Now in the dungeons of this dark kingdom, Dirk encounters the Lizard King. Dirk must be fast to avoid its blows, should he falter or be too slow, the King beats him unconscious. For protection Dirk must find his lost sword, plunged deep into the pot of gold. With sword and gold collected. Dirk slays the Lizard King and begins his escape from the deep reptilian world.

A magical flying horse awaits Dirk, to take him through a torrent of boulders and around obstructing walls... but first he must enter and leave Doom Dungeon. From the floor of this dire place fire leaps to toast Dirk's tootsies, if he doesn't jump in time, snakes appear from behind doors, heads set to strike and spiders drop from ceilings. Dirk's only means of escape is through a low passageway, and the room of the Mystic Mosaic lies ahead.

Here Dirk must find the safe route across the room. The floor is made up of tiles, only one of which Dirk may step on at a time. These tiles can have a disturbing habit of disappearing, and if Dirk is on one as it vanishes he is plunged to his death. Even 'safe ' tiles provide no permanent haven for Dirk, as a large vicious bat appears if he lingers too long.

Dirk has now reached the final screen and can almost taste freedom upon his lips. All he has to do is cross the hot, mud-filled lake and collect the magic bottle from its other side. But as Dirk attempts to cross, the creatures inhabiting the lake try to pull him into their boiling world. The correct path must be found across using the monster-made bridge. Life isn't easy.

CRITICISM

'This is the most disappointing game of the month - it has been marred horribly by some dodgy programming and the Spectrum's limitations. It doesn't 'hang together' at all well - the eight levels should have some sort of intro so that they follow on from each other a little better. The gameplay is there, but it does take a lot of patience to 'wheedle' it out. On the whole this is far better than Dragons Lair, but then again it couldn't realty be worse.' BEN

'Escape From Singe's Castle is one of the best games to come from SOFTWARE PROJECTS - even better than Jet Set Willy. The graphics are excellently designed, and there's always a large range of colours on screen. The screens are well detailed and contain no clashes, while Dirk's animation is very smooth and realistic. Don't be put off by the original - Dragon's Lair II is much more addictive, and a hundred times more playable.' PAUL

'There's tons of playability here, and it's all nicely packaged with very clear and well written instructions. I didn't expect the follow up to be anywhere near the arcade smash in terms of graphics, but I was well satisfied nonetheless. The value for money is reasonable - though the price is high, the game is sufficiently addictive to make it worth it. It's a good job too that SOFTWARE PROJECTS managed to do something about the horrendous lack of playability that made the original version such a disappointment.' MIKE

'The programmers' defects really make themselves noticeable on the 128/+2. There are nine pieces of music, which would be excellent in their own right, but unfortunately they corrupt and change speed with the game - at several times I nearly 'pulled the plug ' simply because it was all so annoying. I'm very surprised that the multi-load system hasn't been dispensed with - surely it all could have been crammed into the large memory!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q/A up/down, O/P left/right, Space to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: very good, with no clashes, nice backgrounds
Graphics: well animated and smooth
Sound: spot FX only on 48K, nine tunes as well on 128
Skill levels: one
Screens: eight
General Rating: An exciting fantasy challenge, and a great improvement on its predecessor.

85%
86%
78%
77%
78%
83%

Screenshot Text

Deep down in the Doom Dungeon, Dirk the Daring decides to depart.