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1987
Arcade: Adventure
£7.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

69
David McCandless
Chris Bourne

This game is based in one of those fighting fantasy books called Duelmaster, in which you either play the gravel pit, no, sorry, quarry (one player), or the hunter, evil firedrake Archveult (two player). The idea, if you're the quarry, is to complete some tasks then burn it outa' Blood Valley; and if you're Archveult to deploy your hideous henchman and then give hectic chase.

I have only one gripe (yes but I'm going to the clinic tomorrow), - the instructions. They babble on about how great Duelmaster is, and how long Archveult's big toe nail was, but they don't actually tell you about playing the game. There's no this-is-this, and that-means-that at all. Perhaps this is purposely to create suspense, but all it left me with was a bad case of Confusionicus Maximus.

The title load (title screens are now redundant), struck me as very polished. A choice of three languages, tasteful gothic letters scrolling on a scroll, and very good "choose your character" (a la Gauntlet) graphics, all look very slick. But what about the game?

You run (looks like skipping), both left and right, stabbing anything that moves. Once dead, nasties disintegrate and may leave dots or clumps of pixels behind. These either represent gold or food - the latter restoring your stamina - or are meaningful objects that you can use later on. Nasties range from cowled monks to blow-piped pygmies, but all give you severe hassle. The playing area is tiny and suffers from chunky scrolling syndrome. Nasties and player characters have an annoying habit of being too small (two character squares by one). Another disquieting thing is the instantaneous way the scenery changes. One second you have a backdrop of mountains, and then you're sweating in the middle of a jungle - very strange.

A breather can be obtained in mid-skip if you clear the screen of nasties and press "up". This plonks you in an examine/use objects mode. Don't come looking for enlightenment here, objects aren't explained just displayed.

The tasks you're given - be you Barbarian, priest or female thief are difficult, very difficult. "Defeat the Flame of Acheron" the game ordered me - the flame in question frazzled me as soon as I got near it.

There's a trace of addictiveness there: tasks, spells and the two player option add something, but I couldn't help thinking that this game could have been much, much better.

Blood Valley is an average game that's certainly not one of Gremlin's best.

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