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Mandarin Software
1988
Compilation
£14.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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100
The Pilgrim
Chris Bourne

Level 9/Mandarin finally get it out...

There have already been two Level 9 compilations, released by Rainbird, offering "updated and expanded" versions of their earlier games. Now the popular "Time and Magik" Trilogy, featuring Lords of Time, Red Moon, and The Price of Magik, has been given the same treatment - but exactly what sort of treatment is it, and does the compilation deserve your hard-earned cash?

First, you have to remember that Level 9 wrote all their games, initially, for a cassette-based market dominated by micros with 48K (or even less) usable memory. This put the company in a bit of dilemma when it came to re-releasing compilations of earlier titles: the market had changed and now many users have access to disk and own computers with 128K memories or more.

What's more, with graphics in adventure games becoming increasingly sophisticated, the earlier text-only games produced by the Austin family were beginning to look decidedly old-fashioned. Obvious solution: reprogram the games, adding greater vocabularies, better parsing, and pictures.

However, Time and Magik falls into a slightly different category here. With the exception of Lords of Time, the games featured are later Level 9 productions that featured graphics in the original versions and - in the case of Price of Magik - improved parsing and vocabularies as well. This means that if you already have copies of these games, it isn't going to be worth shelling out for the new compilation - although the graphics have been improved and the games polished up, they don't improve sufficiently on the originals to justify buying a second copy.

On the other hand, if you've only got one of the games - and particularly if that one is Lords of Time - then this selection obviously represents excellent value for money. Apart from the new digitised graphics the best thing about the upgraded versions is RAMsave and RAMrestore, features which the Pilg now reckons to be indispensable. Now all we need is a compilation of The Pawn, Guild of Thieves, and Jinxter for £19.95 and well all be laughing...

Reviewer: The Pilgrim

RELEASE BOX
Spec, £14.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
C64/128, £14.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
Ams, £14.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Out Now
Amiga, £19.99dk, Out Now
IBM PC, £19.99dk, Out Now

900/10
940/10
880/10
690/10
919/1000

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THE GAMES...

LORDS OF TIME

For a long time, the Pilgrim's favourite Level 9 adventure. A simple scenario, in which you must collect nine artefacts to defeat the infamous Timelords, is superbly programmed into nine separate "mini-adventures", each representing a different time-zone - ranging from the prehistoric to the distant future. The game was the first Level 9 program to be written by an outside author and the text is excellent, with vivid descriptions and some ingenious puzzles. If you get stuck at the beginning, let the Narcissus get a glimpse of himself...

RED MOON

This marked Level 9's return to magical mystery following their detour through science fantasy in Snowball and Return to Eden. For many readers, including the Pilgrim, the return was a welcome one as you battle against the evil magician Hagelin to save an all-important crystal, source of magical power on the planet, from being put to dark and hideous uses. Spells galore and a wonderful atmosphere of dragons and distorted reality.

THE PRICE OF MAGIK

Back to the Red Moon for the last in the series, in which you must use magik spells to defeat the evil Myglar. The title of the game refers to your progressive loss of sanity as you become involved in magikal endeavour - and indeed some of the puzzles are rather tricky, though not (to my mind) as satisfying as those in the earlier games, particularly the excellent Lords of Time.