Some companies, I have always thought, put out too many games. How can you keep up the quality when all your doing is cranking them out at about 10 a minute? CRL used to do it, when it was tied up with Electronic Arts. Crap game followed crap game, so when a brilliant little number like Sophistry came along, no-one took the blindest bit of notice.
Now it looks as though Gremlin may be falling into the same trap. I've played too many of its games in the past year which haven't seemed quite as good as they could be, and that's a pity because the company's record is second to none. But after Hercules, Alternative World Games and the Gary Lineker titles, here's another one.
The scenario, though, is promising. Yup, were back in the Dark Ages again, with Artura, son of Pendragon. Albion (or Blighty to you and me) is under threat by invaders galore, so it's up to Artura to unite he country's petty kingdoms to fight them off. Anybody else would do this by going around all the petty kings and having a good chinwag with them, but this is of course the Dark Ages (as well as a computer game) so instead he needs to find the Sacred Treasures of Albion, that were "hidden when the eagles came", it says here. Eh? The only person who knows the whereabouts of these trinkets is a geezer called Merdyn, and he's vamoosed. But you do know that Artura's evil half-sister Morgause has kidnapped Nimue, Merdyn's apprentice. (Are you getting all this? It's more complicated than East Enders for gawd's sake.)
Sounds fun, doesn't it? It turns out, though, that all you have to sod is rescue Nimue from Morgause's castle, which is a network of horizontal screens in the Joe Blade/Karnov mould. So, you walk around shooting the guards (they each need four 'axes', which you throw) and the bats or birds (hard to make out which they are, at least they only need one axe each).
Occasionally you find a rune, which when connected up to a few other runes gives you greater magical power. The whole network needs mapping, which is why the game is described as an arcade/adventure on the inlay, but there's no puzzle solving here or much to do at all except shooting things. It's been well programmed, certainly, and the action is swift enough. But it's all so unoriginal, and when you think of some of those brilliant old Gremlin games - true arcade/adventures like Future Knight, Jack The Nippers I and II, Things Bounces Back, the Monty games and all the rest - you wonder what's going on. Artura's quite fun for an hour or so, but at eight quid I'm afraid that's just not enough.
Very mediocre 'arcade/adventure' with no adventure to speak of and arcade features you've seen too many times before.