The random nature of the universe. It's a problem, isn't it, readers? Just when you think things are all hunky-dory, the flip of a celestial coin and you're hit by a falling tree while riding the escalator in WH Smith. Hero Quest is a similar experience, except without the tree, or the escalator, or indeed the popular high street shop.
In Hero Quest, you control a bunch of mythical heroes during an average fortnight's hacking and slaying. Some of 'em are really beefy, some can use magic, some cook a really ace dead rabbit, and so on. You have the choice of fourteen quests to undertake, involving things like rescuing knights, stealing gold, destroying the ultimate evil force in the universe, and so on. Monsters pitted against you include ores, zombies and evil versions of yourselves. (And so on, ho ho. Ed) Everything takes place in dungeons, and you have to get out after succeeding in the quest of the day.
Well, that's Hero Quest in a nutshell, except for the important bits like gameplay and presentation. (A mere bagatelle. Ed) On the graphical front, it's pretty darn smart, with a sharp isometric 3D view and large sprites. Regarding gameplay, it's dismal. Miserable, in fact. Because, you see, everything relies on chance. The original Hero Quest (the board game) involved lots of dice and throwing of same - the Speccy conversion prints a load of random numbers, and you press fire to stop them. Wowee, eh?
Never mind the scope for introducing real combat sequences involving, well, skill - just bash fire and hope the great luck goddess favours you with a decent number.
It's a bit sad really. Tasty presentation (the 128K has plenty of tunes as well), up to four players in a game, and a slew of tricky levels, all ruined by the reliance on little flashing digits. There are times when conversions can be too accurate.
For the benefit of people who thought the 'eye arrer' caption from Street Fighter 2 was just some nonsensical wibble, it is in fact the second part of the 'Suddenly, it's Folk Song' sketch from 'The Best of Sellers' double-cassette album (available on the EMI label).
'Yes yes, very good. We'll let you know. Next!' 'Erm, we're the Barbarian Horde Beat Combo, and we'd like to play our new number, 'Hey Everybody, Look at my Enormous Sword.' 'Thank you.' Alternatively: That one on the end looks just like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap! (Second caption by Steve 'Lying' Anderson.)