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PSS
1985
Adventure: RPG
£9.95
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

29
Rachael Smith
Chris Bourne

Through the mists of time In the dim and distant past a proclamation was made throughout the land... Yea, verily, PSS will produce a true computerised role playing game and it shall be called Swords And Sorcery, to follow the alliterative vogue. But as time passed many scoffed and said that such a task was beyond the heroes of the age. And then one day the clouds rolled and the heavens thundered and the earth shook and the postman delivered a package. Only two years late S & S had arrived.

The great thing about Dungeons and Dragons and the like as tar as I'm concerned is that they fire the imagination and draw you into a convincing world created by the games master. A lot of that involvement comes from playing with like minded people (or for those who have never become involved, loonies). Obviously you loose that element with only the hum of the computer to keep you company.

Role playing games are also notorious for the involved mechanics of running a world; constant dice rolling, looking up tables and consulting charts is conducted by the referee. But a good dungeon master will make it all look effortless and create an ongoing narrative with the players. Again the computer fails because the cluttered screen is far too busy. Familiarity will help you accustom yourself with the revelant windows, but even then I'd have preferred less of the bones showing.

Above all though, the dungeon should be believable, and it's the curse of bad players to create chamber after chamber of monsters. Unhappily the computer reproduces this 'hotel corridor' syndrome perfectly, replacing subtle traps and vivid description with continuous battles.

Not that it's all bad, and I'm sure S & S will become a cult of sorts. There's room for better dungeons as later levels are added to the core MIDAS system. And the true spirit of the game starts to come through if you get a chance to indulge in a little casual conversation with a monster before combat - the battle cries and insults are great. You also train your warrior at the start in various skills and attributes can be increased. But in the end I found it all too mechanical to do what it set out to, which is indulge the player in role playing.

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The visual display. Here's a skeleton who's mindless, antagonistic, and illustrated in rather blocky graphics.

Here's your map, showing where you're going and where the wandering monsters are.

The best part of the game. Your chance to threaten the nasties with the cutest curses going and they can give as good as they get - only too few to choose from.

The scrolling action menus which are surprisingly easy to get into and amazingly versatile. But beware - eat without dropping your sword and though you'll be told it wasn't edible it'll have gone!

All the lastest news, from what you're carring to how that last with a sword did. During combat you'll find your eyes crossing as you try to watch this, the command menu and the status panel all at once.