If you've been suffering withdrawal symptoms since Anglia's adventurous TV prog Knightmare, went off the air, is it worth handing over a tenner to get the micro version? Well, it ain't bad, it ain't brilliant... and it's at least two quid over-priced.
The graphics are pretty neat and well-animated, though we won't compare them too directly with the TV show's special effects, seeing as they were done with a Supernova machine which costs the equivalent of about 300 Plus-3's. To get the graphic detail you have to sacrifice colour, so the screen is mainly blue on white, but other colours are used for the Dungeon Master and the Oracles whose heads appear at the top of the screen when you consult them.
As you might expect, you start this mix of arcade and adventure in a dungeon... yup, there you are with your funny little hat on. At the right of the screen is a candle burning down as your life force gradually goes - and it goes more quickly if you encounter any of the nasty creatures that lurk in the domain of Damonia Castle. Your target is knowledge, your aim is survival.
Also in the opening dungeon is a geezer with a beard, a chicken leg, and something spherical on the floor. Balls? Could be. At the top of the screen is room for your verb-noun text input, which is chosen from a list of options. You flick through your choice of verbs first of all, such as OPEN, CLOSE, DIG, LOOK, ASK and so on, confirming your choice with ENTER, then you do the same for the nouns: ROCK, FOOD, WATER, DOOR, OLD MAN etc. You can speed things up by typing the initial letter of the word you want. If you want to dig the old man or eat the door then you can go ahead and try, but opening the door might be a better option at the start, and you soon realise that it's wise to do a good deed for the decrepit old duffer who's pacing round the dungeon with you.
The arcade action comes if you manage to figure out how to escape the first couple of rooms, though you can probably guess it's a case of avoiding baddies at first, then engaging in combat if you can find yourself a suitable weapon.
It's only by going through the list of options open to you that you realise, for instance, that the perfectly round objects on the dungeon floors are not, as you suspected, blue oranges, but are in fact rocks - useful for throwing at the ghosts, goblins and slimy creatures that emerge from the floor to attack you.
At any time you can consult the Dungeon-Master, who will probably tell you in his snotty voice: "I do not guide. I observe." Well, thanks a bundle, chief. You can consult the two oracles as well, the good guy being Runius, the bad guy Buggane, although Buggane's first piece of advice seems fairly sound to me: "Trust no-one, give away nothing and drink plenty."
The option menus are a bit awkward and limiting for adventurers, and the arcade elements won't exactly thrill the zappers to their little cotton socks, but for those who like creeping around dungeons with funny hats on, Knightmare looks good and offers a certain amount of challenge.
Efficient translation of the TV series, but too much of a half-way house between adventuring intricacy and arcade action.