After many years of peace, the nightmares recapture your mind. Vivid visions of death and chaos across the realm soon haunt your waking thoughts. You start to wonder if the crafting of evil is at work. Rumors of beast sightings have begun to weave their way in from the villages. Villagers say that Orcs, Trolls, and a frightful winged creature have overrun the outlying regions, and that an "allseeing eye" controls these fiends. Many have been sent to investigate these rumors, but none have returned.
It's been many months since the Chalice disappeared-though only taken by common thieves, there is but one "thief" who could harness the power of the Chalice and cause this much death and destruction-the Evil Magician! In a moment of clarity, you know what you must do. You go to gather up what few items you need to aid you in your perilous journey, but you quickly realize that they have all gone missing! Stepping outside the castle gate, a familiar feeling comes over you-you are very much alone...
As in your previous adventures, your mission is to recapture the Golden Chalice and return it to your castle gate. Your quest will once again be an arduous one, as the Chalice is now protected by Orcs, a Cave Troll, and a Winged Dragon. If you manage to best these creatures, you'll have to seize the Chalice from the Evil Magician himself. But before you can actually see the Chalice, you must first snuff out the shadowing magic of the Dragon, as the Chalice will only appear once the Dragon has been slayed.
The Chalice is rumored to be hidden in one of three places - the Evil Magician's Castle, the Dragon's Castle, or the Troll's Cave. You have many items to help you on your quest - unfortunately these too have been stolen and hidden throughout the kingdom.
- Level 1: Items are in fixed locations close to your castle. Two hits to kill the Dragon, one hit to kill the Troll. No Evil Magician.
- Level 2: Items are in fixed locations throughout the Kingdom. Three hits to kill the Dragon, two hits to kill the Troll. Evil Magician present.
- Level 3: Items are in randomized locations. Three hits to kill the Dragon, two hits to kill the Troll. Evil Magician present.
|Number of Players||1|
|Cartridge Size||32K Melody Enhanced|
|Game Graphics||Illya Wilson|
|Label, Manual Design||Brian Ostrowski|
Graphically, the game is superb. The mazes are now completely asymmetrical, and some even have cool-looking flashing walls. The enemies are large and intimidating, and new areas include a skull cave and Dragon's castle, which gives a salute to the original game (a giant "duck-dragon" statue in the center). Controls are nice and fluid, with your "square" hero moving at a slightly faster pace (except in the presence of the Palantir - nice little salute to LOTR). Also, when you pick up items, they stay in a fixed spot on your character (i.e. the sword and staff will always stay on your left or right, the key and chalice will always be above you, etc.), which saves you constantly "repositioning" items around you so you can use them properly.
And then we have the difficulty. Oh Lord, the difficulty.
As in the first Adventure, there are 3 levels, accessible by pressing the Select button. Level 1 is the short game with items in fixed locations, Level 2 is the long game with items in fixed locations, and Level 3 is the long game with items in random locations. Levels 2 and 3 not only have more enemies, some of whom take more hits to kill, but also the Magician's hawk, who is hands down the most ANNOYING character in the game (or in any game, for that matter). Remember the bat from the original? At least you could catch it and thus prevent it from stealing from you, if only temporarily. The hawk, however, not only can easily outrun you and take whatever well-needed item you're carrying, but can also pick YOU up and drop you anywhere it wants, including within surrounding walls, or right next to immediate danger. A real issue I find here is that once you find the sword or the staff, the hawk just snatches it and flies off, leaving it somewhere on the outer edges of the map, and considering that you then have to work your way towards it through Orcs, the Troll, and the Dragon with no means of defense (not even knowing if you're heading in the right direction), you often find yourself in a sort of stalemate situation, and your best bet here is then just to turn the game off and on and restart. And even if you do manage to find it, the hawk just steals it again and it's back to square one. If you're a chronic controller-smasher, this could get expensive.
A couple other things I noticed: the manual says that the staff can be used to defeat the Orcs, but in my experience, the fireballs just fly right through them. Secondly, you can't "shimmy" along the walls like you could in the first game. When you're being pursued by something, you can get stuck for a second, which more often than not proves fatal. It may be a while before you even get to see the Magician or Chalice (both of which only appear after the Dragon has been slain), let alone get a chance to defeat him and take it.
And finally, when you do manage to beat the game, you'll discover that it's not necessarily as rewarding an experience as you might have thought, because a high percentage of your victory was just plain luck. There is virtually nothing you can do but hope that the hawk just leaves you alone (well, the manual says you can shoot him with the staff, but good luck with that).
Level 1, on the other hand, is almost insultingly easy.
So in the end, it's a great and highly recommended game, and a worthy successor to the original, but the unbalanced difficulty may be a turnoff for some. Regardless, it's a nice addition to your collection, and buying it will encourage Byte Knight to make more. Myself, I can hardly wait for "The Evil Magician Returns II."