There's a grey area where adventures and arcade games meet - where role playing clashes with joystick jiggling - a place that people call... THE TWILIGHT ZONE!
Mike Gerrard may also get Master Of Magic to review. For all I know the Ed may start a separate column for these hybrids... a separate magazine even! But for the time being it's landed with a splash in my soup plate so off we go into another endless maze of monsters and machinations.
How best to describe M Of M? Remember Out Of The Shadows, the cult classic where the map around your little hero was only illuminated as far as he could see? Then what about Swords And Sorcery, the much delayed, menu-driven attempt to do a D & D in the depths of the Spectrum? Master masters the best features of both.
The quest's the thing and this time it's for an amulet, but that's not important. What really matters is that there are several large levels of deadly dungeon in which dwell doomed souls and assorted creepy crawlies. You are a mere dot on the map as you move around, and you only get to see the objects, monsters and even the walls and doors as you approach them.
Just to pep things up there's also a written description, which tells you when that smash with the mace missed or what the skeleton you've just reduced to rubble was wearing.
Once you're underway it's time to select some orders from the menu which includes everything you can do at a certain time. Examine is always there, as is Cast a spell from your repertoire of four, though these drain your magical strength, shown by a bar chart up the top. If there's a nasty near enough you can always go for a blow.
While the display is on the whole much clearer than in Swords And Scorcery and the menu system is generally easier to use, I wasn't too keen on the way that a vital command like Attack drifts about depending on how many other options there are before it. You need to have the GBH routine at your finger tips.
On the whole though it's a lot of fun to play and to explore and you'll need some nifty timing to mash all the monsters, plus some map making to locate the armour and weapons. While it lacks the role playing and expandability of PSS's system, this is a most cheerful offering from the Mastertronic bargain basement - or should that be cheapo caverns?
The subterranean radar thinks you're a real square but beware because that other figure's a far more detailed foe.
An on-going live battle commentary scrolls by for those who can shatter a skeleton and read at the same time!
To aid ready recognition of the rotters, monsters appear here, as do doors, magic rings and the rest, which draws your attention to them pronto.
Your strength may wane but worry not because there's a healing potion - if only you can find it in time.
Finding out when you're close enough to Attack can be tricky, but once a monster appears go for blow after blow. You'll soon learn how many hits it can take - and which are impervious to physical force.