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LOAD "THE LORD OF DRAGONSPIRE REVIEW"

Classification: Game / RPG
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Publisher: Psytronik Software
Programmer: Stuart Collier / Trevor Storey
Music/Sound: Jason Page
Year: 2019
Rating: ★☆☆☆
Disk: link
Comet64 Friendly This game is compatible with the Comet64. more info... See loading notes below.

Thank you to my supporters!

This review was made possible by those generous folks who've shown their support by Buying Me A Floppy. Funds they've provided went to purchasing a digital copy of this game from Psytronik's website.

I'll begin this review by stating that RPG/Adventure type games are not my most favorite kind of video game. But even so, I have had enjoyed a few titles over the years, like Trogue64, Knight's Quest, Wasteland, and Times Of Lore. Unfortunately, The Lord of Dragonspire is not one I'm enjoying all that much; and I've really tried to get into it. However, I find it just too darn frustrating.

The premise of the game is “to find the entrance to Dragonspire. Work your way up the spire then locate and destroy the Demon Lord.” You do so in an RPG style environment, using the joystick to navigate your way on the map. You use the fire button to bring up the action menu, with which you use to choose your actions in the game (like Run, Attack, Examine, Eat, and so forth). As you move about the environment, you will encounter objects to collect, like weapons, armor, chests and keys. You will also encounter the deadly beasts that inhabit the land, like bats, spiders, wolves, ghouls and other nasties.

When you encounter these beasts, you choose your actions in the typical RPG turn-style game-play. Nothing is unexpected here, but my biggest gripe about this game is how unfairly balanced the odds are stacked against you. First of all, every time you encounter an enemy, you lose hit points; it is apparently unavoidable. You encounter a bat? You lose hit points before you can do anything. Want to attack? Fine, but chances are you're going to miss. Then the bat gets to take more hit points after that. You always have the disadvantage of getting hit first.

I've also noticed that the enemies never miss. With every attack, they always take hit points. Unfortunately, I seem to miss quite a bit. Even the weakest enemies can reduce my hit points to next to nothing sometimes before I can land enough hits to dispatch them.

As far as I can tell, the only way to regain hit points is to eat; but good luck at trying to find enough food to keep you going for very long. You get one meal at the beginning of the game and after that, you need to find food locked away in chests, hidden in the maze. Many RPGs allow you to regain life/hit points by resting, but not here. Several times I've found myself in a dead-end area of the map with an HP of 10, no more food to regain strength, with a wolf or ghoul waiting for me at the entrance. I know that as soon as I encounter them, I'll lose the last of my hit points (sometimes just by walking up to them because they'll always hit first and take HPs) and that's game over. Very frustrating.

You really don't have much of a chance avoiding the enemies, either. The pathways are very narrow and, although you can move around quite easily and nimbly, the enemies move pretty fast as well and make a direct B-line towards you. So, unless you happen to lure them to one of the few open areas on the map, you're in for an encounter.

There is armor to be found, but after reading the instruction manual, I don't think the armor would be all that helpful. The manual says that finding armor increases the game level, which slightly increases your ability to avoid attack. But, it also says that a level increase also increases the HP of the enemies and the damage they can inflict upon you. So, I really don't see the advantage there.

One of the good things about the game is that, from what I can tell at least, the enemies don't re-spawn. A few other good points about the game: you do have the ability to save your progress - but note that you can only save once, unless you're playing on an emulator. Another positive is that the game looks really good. The graphics and animations are very detailed and game-play is nice and smooth.

There's also pretty good background music, but it seems like it's only one tune that loops. I don't know if it changes if you make it into any other levels of the map, but so far I've only heard the one tune. After an hour of playing and getting frustrated, I have to turn down the volume as it can get annoying. I think it would have been nice to be able to turn off the music and have some good sound effects to listen to, just to change it up a bit.

The other advantage to this game is that it's not a random map. From what I've experienced, the placement of enemies, treasures and so forth are always the same. So, if you sat down and drew out a map of where everything is, making progress in this game may be easier. Right now, I just don't have the patience for doing that.

Sound effects is one of the reasons I like playing Sword of Fargoal (by Epyx). As an enemy gets closer to you in an unrevealed area of a map, the growling noise gets louder and looongerrrrrr…. It builds tension and anticipation (at least for me). So, I get a sense of what's to come, so I can adjust my strategy accordingly. It's the same effect that is used in the game AD&D Cloudy Mountain, for the Intellivision. Love it! Unfortunately, this games lacks all of this.

In the end, The Lord Of Dragonspire may just be right up your alley. It's an RPG Adventure game, but more along the lines of an “arcade” RPG. The action is faster and less complicated than other RPG games, but I find it frustrating to make any progress without taking the time to map everything out. The combat algorithm (to determine hits and misses) is just too unbalanced for me to find it enjoyable. I'm not sure if I'll be spending much time and effort playing it any further.

For me to really enjoy an RPG style game, it needs to present a few choices of how to accomplish tasks. There aren't many choice to make in this one. And, just as “Joshua” soon learned, sometimes the best solution to a game is not to play at all.

Conclusion

★☆☆☆ - There's just no compelling reason for me to try and finish this game. It's too unfairly balanced and frustrating to make any progress. There are better RPGs out there to waste time on.


Special Comet64 Loading Notes

Comet64 FriendlyTo load this game via your Comet64, execute LOAD “0”,2, which is the game file on the disk image.

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reviews/dragonspire.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/22 00:07 by David