BAAL by Richard Karsmakers
The professor adjusted his spectacles as he opened an ancient
looking book on the oaken table. Tim looked at the professor with
profound stupefaction as the old man leafed through it
"A Concise Encyclopaedia of Evil" could be seen on the back of
the book, written in letters that seemed golden. On the front
cover, a picture of a Taurus-like monster could be seen, with
giant teeth, threatening claws and a threatening look in his
Shivers ran down Tim's spine. It was as though the picture
looked back at him, and he didn't particularly like the feeling.
"Baal," the professor said, "let me see.... Here it is." He read
it silently, and his face seemed to grow even older as he
proceeded. After he had finished reading, he looked up at Tim,
again adjusting his spectacles.
"Are you sure you want to know?" he asked.
Tim merely nodded. It was a sad nod - he knew he wasn't going to
like what he was about to hear.
"Baal," the professor repeated, "Formerly the chief male deity
of Phoenician nations: A False God generally, the name being of
Hebrew origin. One of the highest yet most obscure servants of
Evil, leader of an enormous army of Undead. See cover
The professor closed the book. Tim startled and felt he had to
swallow something but couldn't. He nervously played with a small
bottle on the professor's desk labelled "Nitroglycerin".
They both looked in awe at the black creature on the cover of
the old book. It still seemed as if it was looking directly at
them, and they both didn't quite like the feeling.
Outside, thunder roared and lightning split the dark, moonless
sky in a thousand fractions. Some branches of the tree in front
of the mansion made weirdly rhythmical noises against the window.
"It's an omen," the professor sighed as he looked outside, "Baal
has come upon us! You should never have opened that ancient tomb,
Tim was shocked by the change that had come over the professor,
and suddenly saw a strange and scaring glitter shine in the eyes
of the man that now stared outside and seemed nailed to the
He carefully took a few steps back.
The professor now slowly walked to the window, as if an awesome
force was pulling him towards it. He came to a stop about a metre
from the window; the lightning cast a long and strangely
malformed shadow of the man's body on the wooden floor. His face
was now white and stern. He looked rather like a corpse this way,
Tim was hesitant to conclude.
"Lo!" the professor yelled, "Look on top of yonder hill! He who
shall not be mentioned hath returned!"
He sank on his knees and stared at the hilltop as if he
couldn't do anything else, as if anything else was a pure waste
of time. His mouth dropped open. Tim could now see the terrifying
figure, too, but wasn't under its spell. Threatening it stood,
proud in the light of yet another flash of lightning that was
followed by a heavily rolling noise of thunder.
"Baal...." Tim thought, as he saw the creature coming nearer
slowly but steadily. He closed his eyes as a sudden flash, much
brighter than lightning, filled the room. There was a deafening
chaos of noise; wood breaking, demons howling, desperate
screaming, and then silence.
As Tim opened his eyes again, the professor had gone. There was
now only a pentagram burned on the floor where he had last seen
him, and "666" was burned just before his own feet.
He felt his knees weaken and looked around him at the world,
wondering why it was suddenly moving around in circles until he
hit the ground with a thud.
You are the leader of an elite squadron of Time Warriors. An
elite squadron that has to retrieve the War Machine that Baal's
undead legions stole, a squadron that has to kill Baal himself as
In an archaeological dig, Tim has led the excavation of the old
demon's burial tomb, and this has unleashed the Evil again on
earth. If the team fails, the alternative will literally be "Hell
That's the story behind "Baal", the latest game to be released
by Psygnosis' new label, Psyclapse. Personally, I think it's
their best game, too ("Chrono Quest" was not my kind of game, and
"Menace" was a bit too dull and didn't scroll that well).
"Baal" can be compared to Psygnosis' mega-hit "Obliterator";
with only the aspect of sound leaving something to wish for.
As usual, the game comes supplied on two disks, and features
some pretty neat artwork during loading and the title screen.
Jeff Bramfitt surely did an excellent job here! During the title
picture, a piece of digital music lasting 11 minutes can be heard
- not bad, but it sounds about the same all the time and I
generally can't stand digital sound when there are still
excellent 'regular' sound programmers around (Hi Jochen!!). They
did use three seperate voices, however, so that makes it still
Then there's the actual game. It's a shoot'-em-up platform game,
where you have to zap monsters and avoid traps (a total of 400
traps and 100 monsters are contained in the game, on 250 highly
detailed screens). The main graphics (by Chris Warren) are beyond
doubt excellent, and the animation is quite smooth too (so is the
8-way scrolling, by the way).
I have played the game quite a while, and found it irritating in
the beginning that you get stuck very soon (they should've said
that blasting the energy generators causes roads to open!). Some
other irritating aspects were the fact that it sometimes takes a
long time before you can continue after being killed, and that
the 'game over' sequence is rather tedious and too long, too.
The superb graphics and the nice animation, however, create an
urge to go on until the end - something that is sometimes called
'addictiveness', and that this game surely has! One just has to
put the monitor's volume down because of the awful sound effects
(too much use of the noise generator). For the rest, the game is
very good though quite unoriginal ("Barbarian", "Brataccas",
"Obliterator"....Psygnosis really specializes in these games!).
The price (£19.95) makes it affordable, however, and that's very
important as well.
Value for money: 7.5
Overall rating: 8+
Hardware: Color only
Remark: With GOOD music and sound, it would
have been a SMASH-HIT!
Many thanks go to Psygnosis Ltd., for sending the review copy so
For info, you can contact:
Port of Liverpool Building
Liverpool L3 1BY
Tel. (England) (0)51-2070825