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Melbourne House
1987
Tactical Combat
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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112,113
Paul Sumner, Ben Stone, Richard Eddy
Chris Bourne

Jealousy and the desire for Power is the backdrop to Mike Singleton's latest creation - Throne of Fire. The Story tells of The Burning Citadel, a fortress high above the desolate planes of Carakesh, where stands an empty seat, the Throne of Fire, vacated by the late King Atherik. His three sons, Alorn, Cordin and Karag, desire the seat of the Throne and power of the land, and are prepared to battle it out to a bloodthirsty end.

The game can be played in two ways - either two players taking control of two of the three Princes and the computer taking the third, or a sole player taking on two computer opponents.

The action takes place within the 100 rooms of The Burning Citadel. The screen is split vertically from top to bottom, displaying the character currently control - led, the action window - which illustrates the movements of the characters, the castle map indicating the positions of your characters, and your additional support. Rooms are shown in perspective (looking front to back), side doors lead left or right and doors at the back of the room indicate stairs leading either up or down.

To begin with, there are nine men-at-arms under the control of each Prince. However, as play progresses, this may increase or decrease as some are killed off and reinforcements are brought in. Men-at-arms come in handy for doing the Prince's dirty work - bumping off the other claimants for the Throne. The selection mode is entered to take control of one of the men-at-arms, allowing a player control of the horizontally scrolling Citadel map at the bottom of the screen. The Citadel is scanned using a cursor, and rooms may be entered as long as they are the same colour as the heart at the top of the screen. The selected room then appears in the room display window.

Characters who are in allegiance with a player, but not specifically under control, are unable to move from room to room of their own accord. They are, however, able to defend themselves. Additional weapons are found scattered throughout the Citadel and can be picked up for later use. Strength and energy are measured by a beating heart - it the hearts stops the character pops his chainmail socks. Characters regain their lost strength by resting, or by entering the Throne Room, Gate Rooms or using magic potions.

Reinforcements appear in the Gate Rooms, they enter empty rooms and automatically take side with the last character to be in that room. If no player has been in the room the new arrivals join the ranks of the King's Guard.

The objective is to seize the power of the Citadel; achieved by a player taking his Prince to the Throne Room after disposing of the other two. On gaining the Throne, that Prince becomes King, power is his and the crown is presented.

CRITICISM

'Throne of Fire is most enjoyable as a two player game, otherwise it becomes too simple ... and therefore tiresome. The only really annoying feature is the sequence where your character walks up stairs, it's a bit long and pointless. The compact screen works well - everything is on screen at once, so there's no messing about with pulling down awkward menus. Throne Of Fire is a very good three sided battle which has the same degree of atmosphere as other Mike Singleton games but, having said that, it doesn't appear to have the same compulsion and depth' RICKY

'Mike Singleton doesn't half come up with some good ideas - and the programmers have done a great job of implementing his designs. The split screen works well, creating plenty of tension in the atmosphere - much like Spy Vs Spy. The one player game is a bit weak - being much too easy to be of any challenge. Where Throne of Fire really scores high is when playing against a human opponent, the challenge to beat the other player is Immense. If you're a single parent of your Spectrum then think first, as you may end up completing it first time and be left with another unused game' PAUL

'Throne of Fire is a good Idea which has been implemented well, there is a problem though, it's much too easy to play and complete. The two player game puts the difficulty levels up, but not quite sufficiently to make it as playable or addictive as it should be. The large and beautifully animated characters and the attention to the detail of the castle help make Throne of Fire look exceptionally good, but that's no real surprise as Mike Singleton (of Lords of Midnight fame) had a large hand in the design of the game and its graphics. The lack of difficulty drastically spoils the gameplay of what could easily have been a Smash!' BEN

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour main play area monochrome, but bright and colourful elsewhere
Graphics: splendid; large, well detailed
Sound: good tune, otherwise not much
Skill levels: three different Princes to play
Screens: 100
General Rating: A marvellous game, spoiled by being too easy.

84%
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Screenshot Text

Karag decides to go it alone, while cowardly Alorn relies on his henchmen to do his dirty work.

Karag and Alorn engage in hand to hand combat in the battler to become their father's heir.

Fratricide rules OK! Prince Alorn dies at the hands of his brother Karag.