Prithee journey with me to a time in our past when men were chivalrous and women were simpering wimps - sorry, I mean damsels in distress!
Lancelot is a three part adventure following the exploits of Squire Lancelot through his knighthood and eventual quest for the Holy Grail.
It is based on Sir Thomas Malory's book Le Morte D'Arthur which was originally published by William Caxton in 1485.
The book that is enclosed with the game shows you how to play a Level 9 game and contains a short version of the Arthurian Legends which should help you become familiar with the game. There are also a few hints to help you play the various parts. The tent it vaguely olde worlde but Level 9 have avoided going over the top with this and on the whole the words used are easily understood.
Lancelot is available for all Spectrum formats with some added features on the Plus 3 version. One of the files on the disc is a README file which gives you a little more information. To use it, turn on the machine, select Plus 3 Basic and enter LOAD "READ ME". You can recall and edit previous commands. RAM SAVE/RESTORE and UNDO several times in succession - very handy when you do something wrong.
Whilst playing the adventure you will notice that some words come on screen in capital letters. Make a note of them as they are vital to the competition that is being run in conjunction with the game. Full details of the competition will be found in the packaging and the prize is well worth winning. It's a solid silver Grail worth £5,000. so this really is a Quest for the Holy Grail.
You begin the adventure as a humble squire. Upon journeying to the east you are challenged by a Black knight. Accept his challenge and you will defeat him, you will be given the choice of sparing his life or ending it. If you know what's good for you then you'll do the chivalrous thing and spare him.
Good job you did that, for the anonymous knight is none other than King Arthur himself who just happens to have a few of his men hiding in the bushes to protect him should anything untoward happen.
Arthur is impressed with your valour and chivalry and promises to knight you if you attend his court the following day But first you will have to journey to the city and find a bed for the (k)night (groan!!!).
When you enter the city you will meet the odious Sir Kay, half brother to Arthur, and a really slimy toad. He tells you to go to the mews to sleep, but if you've any sense you'll pop along and visit Merlin. Merlin will give you a comfortable clean bed and some sound advice.
Whilst you are in Merlin's abode it would pay to visit his library and read a few of his books, you'll pick up some valuable hints. Persist with the reading until the same messages begin to come up again. Now it's time to visit Arthur and receive your knighthood.
You can converse with the characters by typing something like ARTHUR, GREETINGS. You can also ask the characters to do something for you by typing LAVAINE, WAIT THEN PUSH THE GATE or whatever it is you want them to do.
Arthur's court is where you catch your first sight of Queen Guinever and feel the first glimmerings of your hopeless love for her. Just bide your time and Arthur will eventually give you your knighthood.
Arise Sir Lancelot, your adventure is about to begin.
The first place to go is Logris, and you don't need to travel location by location, a simple GOTO LOGRIS will take you there and also give you your first meeting with DAMSEL MALEDISONI. She's a real honey (I don't think), as you will no doubt find out as you progress through the adventure. She will give you your first quest.
So, it's off to LYONESSE and your first damsel in distress. Her hawk has escaped and its lunes are caught in the branches of a nearby tree. Well, no good knight would ignore a lady's tears would he? But, before removing your armour and dropping your sword, pick up a nearby dead piece of wood. After releasing the bird and descending from the elm tree you will discover that you have been duped. Throw the wood at your opponent to defeat him and you will avoid certain death.
There are lots of 'kill you offs', but Merlin is always around to resurrect you.
Of course, any adventurer worth his/her salt knows that you should always save the game regularly, and certainly before trying anything hazardous.
I found Lancelot very easy to get into. Mapping the game is easy enough and the landscape is well worth exploring to fully absorb the atmosphere of Arthurian times, and there's plenty to explore Lancelot is up to the usual high standard we have come to expect from Level 9. It's a thoroughly enjoyable journey into the past, and with the added bonus of a prize worth £5,000 to compete for, can you afford not to buy it? Methinks not!.
Author: Level 9
Memory: 48K/128K Tape/128K Disc
Reviewer: Sandra Sharkey
Corking L9 fare - buy at once.