HERE'S an oddity - a throwback to Dictator and all those games where you decide how much food to give the peasants and how much land to cultivate and how much longer to play.
Evil Crown is set in mediaeval England, and you have to extend your fame and prosperity as one of those wicked barons of old. Everything's driven by icons.
The main part involves assigning areas of land to be cultivated, setting taxes, deciding what to pay the king to avoid providing soldiers for his risky wars and setting aside a sum for the annual tournament.
Once that's over, you get the hunt, where a beast moves across the screen. You don't get to kill it, you watch instead. Lucky beast.
Then there's the tournament, a real lulu. The two knights thunder down with the sort of stunted sound effects you might expect. Meanwhile you're trying to keep your lance tip on a red shield which leaps about a picture of a knight. Unfortunately you're just as likely to lose anyway - and that goes for the rest of the game. Although our pre-production copy had a bug on the joystick menu, which Argus swears will be fixed, the rest of the game is said to be complete.
If that's the case, then it's also virtually unplayable. Peasants revolt and land disappears for no obvious reason. No matter how much you spend on your militia, you always seem to lose the battles.
We rang Argus to see what we were doing wrong. After getting some tips, we set taxes and the rest at the recommended rates and out we went again.
Evil Crown really ought to be a good, witty game with lots of detail. Instead it's dull, constructed and ultimately worthless.
Publisher Argus/Mind Games
Joystick: Cursor, Sinclair, Kempston