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Chris Dorrell
1984
Adventure: RPG
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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94,95
Chris Bourne

The Oracle's Cave isn't an epic quite on the scale of Valhalla, but then It's almost half the price, and for what you pay you also get animated graphics.

This is a dragons and dungeons adventure, but it is much more oriented towards the graphics than to the text, which makes a refreshing change from most of its kin.

The story outline is a familiar one; you have ventured into a dark and mysterious cave complex and are trapped near the entrance. The only exit is four levels down through the dreaded Oracle' s Cave. The game provides four quests. In each you must collect forty units of treasure; these take the form of gold bars, coins and silver, each type giving you a number of treasure units.

You must also collect the treasure guarded specially by the four monsters after whom each quest is named. For this sterling effort you are rewarded with no treasure points - it's simply your duty!

At the start of the game you are asked to select a quest. They are to gain treasure guarded by The Mummy, The Centaur, The Fiery Dragon or The Black Knight. Each time you play the game the layout of the caves is altered.

The way in which Oracle's Cave differs from so many other adventures is the way in which commands are typed in. The top half of the screen shows the cave, with an animated figure of 'you', plus any objects or monsters. The lower half shows you your energy level, wounds, weapons, combat strength, treasures and articles carried. Below that is a description of the location, then an input line, and below that a line telling you what your options are. The options are abbreviated to m = move, r = rest, e = explore. u = use (any article carried). If you elect to move, the cursor line asks, 'Which way?', while the option line tells you: u = up, d = down, l = left, r = right.

There are also s = secret passageway if there is one there, and h = help. Both seem to return you automatically to the entrance cave.

Inputting a direction results in an animated sequence as 'you' walk through a passageway into the next cave. On arriving any monster present will appear and so will the treasure it's guarding. You are then presented with a limited option of f = fight or move. It is not possible to move past a monster until it's been defeated. Each quest has a '5 days' time limit, and a section on the right of the screen lets you know - morning of the second day, and so on. Below that is a simple diagram of the cave showing only the locations of the four quest beasts and your position.

CRITICISM

'The animation in The Oracle's Cave is very good. I suppose it's difficult to avoid comparing it with Valhalla, there's less animation here in the sense that it's only 'you' who move. A pity the monsters couldn't have been given some form of movement too. The fight scenes are fun, but I never seemed able to win any. After a battle, the wounds and energy loss combine to make you weak, too weak even to walk away, in which case you get returned to the safe cave at the entrance. Resting restores energy but loses precious time.'

The trick with this game is to spend as much time in the entrance cave exploring. You're told that all sorts of things are appearing to be collected, which makes all the difference in a fight. Once in a cave with a monster your options are limited to fighting or running away until the monster has been defeated. The inlay card does tell you to explore, but I guess most people want to dive into the adventure, and if you do that you will be disappointed because without getting past a monster your movements are very restricted indeed. ' 'Perhaps hardened adventure lovers might find this one a little limiting, since it keeps offering you menus of possibilities instead of letting you roam free as it were. I thought it made a nice change, and as I'm only half partial to adventures, it might just have an appeal for those like myself. Good clear graphics, with good movement from 'yourself'. One thing the inlay card doesn't tell you (which it's useful to know) is that each monster's combat strength is displayed next to your own as soon as you meet. This gives you a good idea of your chances of winning any fight. Perseverance is a virtue. I defeated a giant rat only after going through four rounds of combat. I would think this is going to be popular.'

COMMENTS
Keyboard positions: menu driven, simple abbreviations makes the program userfriendly
Keyboard play: good responses despite being in BASIC
Use of colour: sparing but good

General Rating: Unusual adventure type, good.

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Screenshot Text

Run or fight? It's all choices, choices in THE ORACLE'S CAVE.