"Is that your wife or did you throw up on the chair?"
Frank Drebin quote (Police Squad)
ST SOFTWARE REVIEW: AMBERSTAR BY THALION SOFTWARE
by Richard Karsmakers
The rest of the introductory bit, including the actual review.
IV - God
The battle had crumbled Seeker's Tower. Amid the smoking ruins
Tarbos stood mightily, power leaping across his chest and arms
like little flashes of crackling lightning that seemed to feed on
him. He, Tarbos, had now finally reached what he had yearned for
all this time, all his life - absolute power. He had challenged
the Lord Demon, his father, and had become the God of Chaos.
Finally, he had fulfilled his ambitions and found himself in a
position to wage war on the world, to teach everybody a lesson -
and a lethal lesson it would be!
His muscles rippled and pulsated as he tried to contain the
fierce powers that raged and gathered within him. His mouth
uttered demonic laughter, increasing until he himself seemed to
become the personification of it. His eyes flashed, absorbing
everything around him. There was nobody, nothing that could
challenge him now. The mages among the Seekers were mostly
killed, the rest had scattered and fled. No power in Lyramion
could ban him or stop him from achieving his ultimate goal. He
would rule the lands and make Mylneh his Queen - a Queen worthy
of him, worthy of a God.
He was now the most powerful creature on earth. He could do
anything he wanted. He could invoke any demonic powers he cared
to. He would invoke them.
He stretched his arms out before him, lightning blazing between
his hands. Strange sounds arose from the earth. Howling, crying,
chanting, breaking, tearing. Around Tarbos the earth seemed to
wave like an ocean, with shapes breaking forth from it. At first
the forms were made of mud, unshaped. As they continued to grow
from the soil, however, they took on the shapes of black horses
with red eyes and light grey manes, the forms of winged
skeletons and reptilian soldiers - all armed to the teeth with
lances, swords, battle axes and spears. They all growled and
grunted, their joints cracking at each movement while their
transition was not yet complete. Shrill cries were uttered as if
they were all swearing allegiance to their God and Creator,
"With this army I will enslave the earth. Nobody will be
forgotten. I will get even."
Tarbos created more and more evil creatures, his magic
unrelenting, his foul imagination shaping every creature more
repellent and hateful than the previous. Thousands of evil
creatures arose thus - built from mud, stone and Dark Magic.
One night, a messenger on horseback arrived at the Castle of
King Marakahn of Lyramion. The horse was not a normal one - it
was deepest black with dark red eyes that radiated hate. Its
light grey manes seemed to lick at its rider like flames. The
soil seemed to whither away at every spot where its hooves
touched the ground. On it sat a rider in a robe as black as the
colour of its horse. Its face was not visible except for two
little red sources of light that must have been its eyes.
The guards dared not touch nor hinder this mysterious messenger,
afraid that it might strike them dead with one fell swoop of some
diabolical weapon it might have hidden somewhere within the many
folds of its robe.
"Bring me to your king," a voice said from under the hood. The
voice was deep, broken, unnatural, carrying with it an almost
palpable threat which the creature did not bother to conceal. One
of the guards ran off to tell his king about this Dark messenger.
The foul creature did not have to wait long until the guard came
back, panting, bidding it to follow him. Marksmen and knights had
gathered around the messenger, ready to strike and shed their
lives when called upon.
The messenger was ushered into the king's hall of audience. Many
more knights and other warriors were present, poised around the
throne on which sat the king accompanied by his daughter. Tarbos'
servant pulled back his robe which caused murmurs, gasps and
shivers to be sent down the ranks of mortals - for it was no man
but some gruesome animal nobody had seen before, perhaps even a
demon. Knights grabbed the hilts of their sword when the creature
took something from a fold in his robe. It was an official
looking scroll, written on parchment. On an invisible forcefield
it floated towards the king who took it from the air, failing to
suppress a tremble.
King Marakahn unrolled it, his eyes travelling slowly across
what was written. A tear appeared in his eye. He had to swallow.
He passed it on to Mylneh, his daughter. She, too, read it - but
she sank on her knees, sobbing, not quite capable of handling the
implications the message brought. The King held his head in his
hands for a while, then looked up facing the foul creature and
cleared his throat. He arose from his chair, trying to look
"Never will we give in to your master's wishes, heinous fiend!"
he cried proudly, "That bastard of hell will never get my kingdom
nor will he ever get my...my..." he struggled in an attempt to
steady his voice, "...my daughter! If war is what he wants, then
war is what he'll get. Either that or he will have to kill me!"
The man sank back in his chair, hiding his face. His daughter,
wiping away her own tears, tried to comfort him.
The Dark messenger turned on its heel, its robes flowing
dramatically behind it. Outside the hall of audience it mounted
its black steed, had it rear on its hind legs and then galloped
away, back to its Evil Master Tarbos, the God of Chaos.
Inside the hall of audience, king Marakhan ordered all of
Lyramion's mages to gather at castle Godsbane in the north of the
land. Something had to be done to stop Tarbos from reaching his
vile goal. Something had to be done to protect the land - not to
mention Mylneh, the beautiful heir to his throne.
Night came and went. The frail morning saw no sun to light its
drab greyness, it heard no birds that could make one forget the
sound of the wind sweeping across the plains around the king's
castle, nor that of thunder gathering at the horizon. The entire
surrounding land seemed to be festering with hate - the trees had
been corrupted, having been bent, wrinkled and made leafless
overnight. They formed evil figures, an audience for the war that
would take place here. The earth was black as if scorched,
echoing the colour of clouds that rumbled impatiently, pregnant
with fiery storms and torrents.
Tarbos was in control of the elements. He wielded lightning as
deft as a warrior would a knife, he controlled the flow of the
winds, he commanded the downpour of rain to suit his evil intent.
It literally vomited rain.
The God of Chaos' armies appeared at the horizon late in the
afternoon. At first they seemed like trembling mountains on the
horizon, but when they came closer lookouts could tell that it
was a huge army of monsters, of Undead, of walking skeletons that
no longer abided the laws of life and death. Tarbos had corrupted
the world, the sun, life. No man's heart could help but feel
desolate in the face of such monstrosities.
Within what seemed like mere minutes, Tarbos' foul armies swept
the castle. Men died like whithering leaves being torn off dead
trees by a winter gale; intense fires consumed wood, stone and
metal. Loyal men fled; proud warriors threw down their
swords, sunk on their knees and wept until they died. Blood
coloured red the ruins of the once proud fortress that kings had
ruled Lyramion from for many generations. Within a few dark
minutes, black pages in the history of Lyramion's monarchy, it
was reduced to a meaningless pile of rubble.
In the end only the King stood, wounded, his sword hanging
limply in a paralysed hand. Only his crown, golden amid the
blackness of the world, stood on his head with a remnant of
pride, its diamonds shining defiantly. Guards lay around him,
killed in horrendous ways. It was a sight even maggots would have
thrown up on.
Not so Tarbos, God of Chaos, who descended from his black steed
and walked towards the monarch. His evil warriors left the King
untouched, not daring to defy their Lord's commands though their
fangs dribbled rabidly with anticipation of death and slaughter.
"Or I will have to kill you, eh?"
For a moment Tarbos breathed in his triumph, then his face
darkened - this was not the castle where magicians were at that
very moment trying to prepare the spell that would attempt to
banish him forever to some distant place. Furthermore, he had not
found Mylneh here.
The King looked at Tarbos, reading the thoughts from the deep
frown embedded on the evil fiend's face. He smiled a smile of
content. Tarbos' victory was not complete. Not yet. The God of
Chaos could yet be defeated. He had bought time, precious time.
King Marakahn smiled his last smile. Frothing with anger, Tarbos
took a dagger from his belt and with a fell swing of it
decapitated the old man. A noiseless cry froze on the King's lips
as the head flopped off the neck and rolled down amid blood and
Tarbos jumped on his black stallion, not looking back as the
King's body dropped to the earth, too. The God of Chaos uttered a
silent command. He rode north with lightning speed. His army
followed him, lethal and agile like some evil mythological
For a moment, Mylneh felt a tremble shuddering her bones, her
brain, the very core of her being. For a while she saw the world
turn around her; she could not focus her attention on the
incantations and the chants uttered by the magicians around her.
She felt her father, King of Lyramion, had died. She felt the
last beat of his heart echo through her head, refusing to abate
for long seconds during which seasons seemed to pass within her.
He had stalled time. She prayed it would turn out to have been
enough, she hoped he had not died for naught, that his life and
that of all who had died with him would have counted. Already she
felt Tarbos' cursed attention on her; she could imagine a cold
hand, like that of a corpse, resting on her shoulder. She
could see herself turning around to stare within those fiery red
eyes filled with anger and hate no mortal man had ever possessed
Driven as if by some evil inferno, Tarbos and his army drew
towards Godsbane. What would have been many a day's journey
through dense forests and across endless plains was decreased to
mere hours. The God of Chaos combined all his tremendous power to
make his army move on the wings of the wind's turmoil. The
forests below seemed to greet them with warped trees stretching
out towards them, the blackened planes radiating some eerie power
of darkness, urging them on.
Early in the morning - or perhaps it was in the middle of
night - the lookouts at castle Godsbane saw Tarbos' army, heard
the stampeding of horses. They sent hurried messages down into
the bowels of the castle where the magicians were feveredly
trying to complete the preparation for the Banishment spell. They
could not rehearse. There was no time to double-check. This one
had to succeed in one go - either that, or the entire world would
enter a period of dark infinity it would surely never wake up
Tarbos rode at the head of his army, that he seemed to hold
back. Godsbane would have to be taken more carefully, as he did
not want Mylneh to be hurt. He needed her to become a whole
person himself, he needed her to sit beside him on her own
throne, the two of them ruling the universe supreme.
Tarbos crushed the ancient wooden gates from their hinges,
storming through the first defence with a handful of his Undead
lieutenants - straight at the core of Godsbane, where he would
find Mylneh and those accursed magicians that had somehow gained
the courage to challenge him, to try a feeble attempt at
banishing him, even!
He slew the second defence ring, that guarded the room deep
inside Godsbane from behind which the God of Chaos sensed a large
concentration of magic. A flash of light, the sound of thunder.
The door ceased to exist, transformed into as many small bits as
there are stars in the universe.
When the dust cleared he walked in, full of confidence and ready
to strike at whatever would dare to attack him. He saw the shapes
of the magicians, but only dimly. In the centre of the ring sat
Mylneh. Beautiful Mylneh, the woman he had yearned for so long.
The only mortal who had ever seemed to understand him, who had
not laughed at him, who had not found it necessary to kick him.
Now he heard the arcane hum that hung in the air. Now he saw
Mylneh's hands, stretched out at him - but not as in a welcoming
embrace. They held a jewel.
He sensed excessive magic.
V - Exile
For a moment, Tarbos stood frozen. His eyes opened wide, filled
with the fears of long forgotten memories. The God of Chaos was
made painfully aware of the fact that there were more powers in
the universe besides his, besides Dark and Evil ones. He now felt
all forces combined - and being used against him. All shades of
grey, red, yellow, white. They were all there. Mages looked at
him as if they would personally want to banish his pitiable being
to some faraway planet. Within the fraction of a moment that
passed between the realisation of defeat and the actual
banishment, his eyes flashed to and fro the mages. To Mylneh.
Mylneh. The only human he had ever truly felt some affection for,
the only mortal that he had wanted to make his, that he had
wanted to share his life and his powers with. Her eyes looked at
him, filled with hate but tinged with pity. Her hands were
stretched out at him, holding out the intricate jewel, on the
verge of casting that One Spell all sorcerors had prepared. The
banishment spell Tarbos had never considered possible, the surge
of power that spelled out utter defeat in bright, coruscating
His Undead legions stood as motionless as their master, their
victims rescued in mid-thrust, their Lord's mind not being able
to control them any more. Frantically, Tarbos thought of ways to
deflect this ordeal. In his mind he tried to leaf through the
scrolls and tomes he had studied for all that time in Seeker's
Tower. Words flashed, but they did not connect to anything he
He looked in Mylneh's eyes one last time. They still seemed like
beautiful little stars, but now they only predicted his defeat.
He was about to sigh when his entire being was enveloped in fire.
It scorched his body like he had scorched the land, his arms and
fingers grew gnarled like the trees he had bent, his eyes burnt
in his head as if birds picked them out. He sunk to his knees,
helpless, powerless, weakened completely. The sorcerors' chants
softened and died off as he seemed to be moving away from them.
He could see nothing around him, nothing but a vast blackness and
then, suddenly, everything was red. He could not move. He dared
not think. He felt as if he were encased in something solid and
infinitely big. It felt as if the red colour had frozen solid,
The red moon, the third moon. His prison for eternity.
Outside Godsbane, Tarbos' Undead legions crumbled to dust, their
shrill cries of defeat echoing up the heavens as if hailing their
master one final time.
Then there was silence.
A thousand years passed by.
The land forgot its sufferings, the people went back to living
their normal lives. Evil powers were banished from the earth, all
levels of black magic repressed. The monarchy flourished. Kings
died natural deaths and peace ruled the land.
Generally, everybody was happy.
Everybody, that is, except for the odd mage with blacker
interests than those of his tutors. These formed small guilds in
obscure places - communicating, learning, brooding, gathering.
Ultimately they got the ambition of releasing the legendary God
of Chaos from the ethereal womb of his banishment.
For years they studied, much in the way Tar had done when he
was a young man, although it was made more difficult for them as
most Dark Knowledge had been written down in books that had been
destroyed a long time ago. New incantations had to be devised,
forgotten scrolls had to be sought, restored and interpreted. The
Black Magic Guild slowly regained the Dark Arts, their minds
occupied with the plotting of destruction. Some Undead were seen
roamed the land again.
Nobody noticed - or perhaps nobody wanted to notice. Slowly but
certainly, the rotten core within the lands grew in size and
power. It infected, administering decay and dissatisfaction to
those eager to be fed. And there it strained to remain hidden.
Hidden, that is, until the sore spot burst.
The fact that I got "Amberstar" (Thalion's latest game) sent to
my place presented me with quite a bit of dilemma. On one hand I
would like to give the game a very unfavourable review because I
feel screwed by their PR person annex sub-boss, who is probably
also the one who makes most money off it. I could throw open some
interesting facts about this rather nauseating person that would
cause global warfare (or at least the proverbial slaughter
between Thalion and me). On the other hand I would like to glance
over it quickly and then write a raving review about it because
the other people at Thalion I know have all worked hard on it and
happen to be such great people that really deserve to earn loads
of money (I am not licking heels here - I don't know anyone who
is not of the same opinion).
Then there was a third option, which was not to write a review
about it at all. This option was supported by the fact that A)
It's the easy way out of the above dilemma and B) I am no
specialist at Role Playing Games, the genre to which "Amberstar"
In the end I got to the fourth option in the row - the one you
probably guessed I had selected already for otherwise you could
not be reading these words now. I hope I've done a good job
reviewing the game even though, frankly, I primarily decided to
go ahead with the thing because the whole things inspired me to
write an alternative background novel to it. What I finally came
up with is a bit of a cliché wielding exercise, but whattaheck,
it's an OK thing for this introductory novel bit. It did turn out
to be a bit long, which is the reason behind this review being
the first ever ST NEWS software review to be split in two because
otherwise people with half a meg would not be able to get access
Let's not waste any more words and thank Calliope, Erato and
Melpomene, the muses I used for it!
First thing that strikes you when looking at "Amberstar" is the
packaging. Instead of the usual Thalion packaging they have now
opted for what I'd call Psygnosis-style packaging with
alternative Roger Dean-ish lettering and a much better cover
artist that made the name Achilleos spring to mind. Within the
back you'll find three double-sided disks, a excellent poster
version of the cover artwork, a sturdy manual (including the
background novel, all in all almost 170 pages), a map of the
country of Lyramion, a quick reference booklet and a translation
layout ("rune table") you'll need to decypher some of the
messages you'll be obtaining in the program.
"Amberstar" has taken a considerable time to develop. Its
designer, Karsten Köper, joined Thalion late 1989 and has been
entangled in the program's development up to the beginning of
this year I imagine. Twice, the programming on this massive
project was started. Twice it went wrong. Eventually January 1991
saw Jurie Horneman join the Thalion team to get down to
programming seriously (Jurie being the same Relayer we all know
and love). Most of the graphics were done by Monika Krawinkel
(who also did graphics for Rainbow Arts' "Bad Cat" and bits of
"Seven Gates of Jambala"), with additional bits by the slightly
infamous Erik Simon (who did pixelputting for "To Be On Top",
"Dragonflight", "Wings of Death" and lots more).
"Amberstar" is the first program in a row of Role Playing Games
that will be released by Thalion. They have all been designed by
a Role Playing System programmed by Karsten in "GfA Basic". Quite
an excellent program, not unlike the software used by Origin's
Lord British to cough up all those "Ultimate"-ish RPG's recently.
Before the end of 1992, Thalion should have done a second game
with it, provisionally called "Amberstar II" (which will entail
the third moon crashing down on Lyramion and Tarbos being
released on earth in spite of everything you did in part I).
Jurie will also do its programming, so it should prove to be
equal to or even better than its prequel.
But let's not stray too much here.
"Amberstar" continues where the above novel bit leaves off
(approximately). Black Magicians have found their way into
Godsbane, in spite of a magic lock that was installed, using some
alternative magic way in. They are setting up everything that is
needed inside, everything that is needed to release the God of
Chaos from his eternal place of banishment within the red moon.
Of course they need to be stopped. Nobody else knows the
alternative method by which Godsbane was entered so that leaves
you in charge of finding back all thirteen pieces of the jewel
used for the banishment - the Amberstar - and entering the castle
by means of unlocking its magically locked main gates. You have
to be quick, for inside Black Magic is working its evil ways.
And that's your task, basically, together with the optional
solving of some sub-quests - and a bit of a huge task I can
Thank God, "Amberstar" can be installed on hard disk - a fact
that I am sure every fervent RPG fanatic will embrace even more
eagerly than Gloria Estafan (to name but one example of many I
could come up with). This had been the ultimate flaw with
Thalion's virgin Role Playing Game and Erik Simon's prime
spiritual child, highly acclaimed "Dragonflight".
There's a white door...
See it laughing...
Hear it calling...
Never mind that (just a bit off Fear of God's "White Door" - a
rather excellent song).
So that's what I did first. It needs about 2.7 Mb free and the
installation process is booth smooth and fast. After having given
a name for your character as well as having defined its looks
(female, male, beard, hair, nose, etc.) in the character editor
when running the program for the first time you only need to swap
the three disks and that's all. Everything will be installed on
the partition you selected and you can start playing by double
clicking on the program file.
Loading times, though fairly frequent, are breathtakingly short.
I would not like to be in the shoes of floppy-based owners
Before I go on any further, please let me tell you that I am no
adept at Role Play Gaming in its computerised form. Therefore I
may make some silly utterances with regard to things I find nice
(or not) that are more or less standard throughout the genre - or
that even may have been implemented lots better in other similar
games. All I can say is that I should not be held too much
responsible. I have relied on the fact that Jurie and Karsten
know much about RPG-ing and I am sure they've come up with the
best of all worlds they've visited during their endless hours of
The user interface
Please allow for it to be said that the user interface is a joy
to work with. Like in most RPGs, you have a bit of the screen
devoted to what you see (a map, for example) and another bit
filled with arrows that you can click on to walk in specific
directions. The keypad corresponds with these options as well,
which makes it quicker and more intuitive to work with. Further
parts of the screen are devoted to status display, with the top
row being used to portray up to six characters that can be
present in your party (i.e. the group of characters you can use
to solve the game, with yourself being one of them).
The map display area of the screen has three modi. First there
are two two-dimensional kind of maps, which are complemented with
a three-dimensional view. The first two can be divided in one
that is used to roam the land as a whole (without much detail)
and the one that is used when entering inns, taverns, houses and
graveyards. The latter offers great detail, including animals and
persons walking around, eating, talking, serving ale, etc. The 3D
display is the kind you're used to from "Dungeon Master". An
alternative set of arrow functions (now including 'turn around'
and 'turn right' and stuff like that) will be available.
At times, pressing the right mouse button will toggle the arrow
functions with functions like 'look', 'talk' and 'hear'. The
first two result in the mouse cursor shape altering, after which
it can be put on a chest to look into, or on a person to talk
There are multiple facets to the "Amberstar" user interface.
Most of them are the obligatory ones - like one that lists the
stuff you have and your vital parameters (health and the like),
and one that allows you to put/get/exchange items.
Whenever you encounter a closed door you encounter another
dialog box that allows you to try and open the door (including
the disarming of possible traps) with the use of the items you
The most interesting dialog box I found was the 'talk' dialog.
Some persons that walk around the game can be talked with quite
extensively. A list will appear where you can talk about any one
of given keywords. These keywords will increase corresponding to
the things you've heard and the things you know. You can also
type in another keyword if you want. Texts are quite extensive,
though sometimes using awkward English. They are no obstacle to
getting into the game atmosphere, however.
Some more good things about the user interface: When positioning
the mouse arrow in the actual map, direction arrows will appear
according to where you put it. This enables a third way of moving
through the game. Nice touch.
The game as a whole also supports day and night - don't expect
shops to be open during the night, and don't expect ghosts to be
roaming across the tombs when it's daytime. The nice thing is
that the night/day transition is also graphically supported.
Another rather nice touch that doesn't add to playability but
does enhance the atmosphere.
When you're located in a 3D map, you fill find the alternative
keypad control options featuring an automatic map maker. This
will display the part of the map you have already walked through
(including the use of scroll arrows to check bits outside of
reach), which is a whole lot better than having to draw maps
yourself all the time. A distinct disadvantage here is that your
position is indicated by a cross - which does not indicate the
direction you're currently facing, which could have been done
with the use of a little arrow instead of the cross.
A thing I did not like much about the user interface was that
there was no universal means with which to exit any current
dialog box. Also, the 3D maps of cities seem like you're
constantly walking in a dungeon - only walls and the odd door,
but no windows or something like that.
Of course, "Amberstar" supports a fighting screen. Monsters can
attack you and your party, and it is possible for your party to
assume certain positions when battling - you would for example
want the most powerful character in front. This screen has been
improved a lot over the one used in "Dragonflight" (interesting
side fact: Did any of you know that Nic of TCB has coded that?).
Everything is much more intuitive. It even has a 'turbo' mode
that optionally enhances speed.
Monsters are portrayed with good graphics, and a separate 'bird
eye' look tells you who is standing where (including the
positions of the monsters).
The Actual Game
"Amberstar" starts with you at the Twinlake graveyard, in front
of your parents' grave. Griefstricken, you stand among the mists,
with sadness filling you. In Twinlake you have to find your
necessities for the rest of your quest (or at least the first
bits to help you on the way). At night you can run into the Ghost
of one Sir Marillion, you can run into a girl who tells you her
cat has gone missing (which is the interlude for a subquest
involving flimmin' huge rats in the sewers), and you can earn
your first larger amount of gold by venturing into the slime-
haunted wine cellar of some inn.
The first puzzles are quite simple - like they should be at
start, I hasten to add. When visiting your parents' house, for
example, you will notice your father's room with a 'tiny lock' on
the door. In a nearby chest you will find a 'tiny key' that fits.
In a closet in that room you find loads of stuff to help you on
the way. Your own room is filled with interesting stuff as well -
including a short sword. Also, you can find torches here that you
need to descend into that wine cellar mentioned above (not to
mention the sewers where the Rat King subquest needs to be solved
(the key to this sewer, by the way, can be obtained from
Twinlake's boss, Sir Karwain).
Right at the start of the game one encounters its first
deficiency with regard to playability: Before one can actually
leave town one has to do quite a lot. Money has to be earned, for
example (though Sir Marillion's ghost will give you quite a bit),
but the most important thing is that you have to have the right
class to wield sufficiently powerful weapons. This is a real
bastard problem. Getting experience points never seems to happen
at the beginning, and you keep on getting frustrated because the
first city map is so devilishly and you find it difficult to find
Outside Twinlake things get more interesting, though I do not
intend to betray too much of that. Be sure to have suitable
powers before leaving, as otherwise a couple of orcs will surely
have your brains for supper.
All subquests aside the game gets down to finding the thirteen
pieces of the "Amberstar", which I already mentioned above. For
that you'll have to traverse the entire land of Lyramion with
the other members of your party (up to six including yourself)
that you may convince to join your cause. There will be ships and
rafts, you will have to buy horses and you will have to find
means to cross high mountains (the cover art should give a nice
hint there). The scope of the game is quite huge - almost epic. I
spent a sickeningly long time editing the Lyramion world map when
I still worked at Thalion and I can tell you from first-hand
experience - it's f@cking big.
"Amberstar" is well designed, though there are still a couple of
small flaws that, once dismissed, would increase playability. The
graphics are wonderful (including the rather excellent title
picture that I'd like to mention separately for quite some work
seems to have gone into it), and the music is befitting the game
- possibly even better than that of "Dragonflight".
The game creates a good atmosphere that is easy to identify
with, possibly because there are other characters living in the
game as well. Though the first city seems to me a bit too big
(utterly unable to make sense of if it had not been for the map
function, and altogether almost a full game of its own), the
difficulty increases at a steady pace and should not present too
much difficulty to the novice nor the seasoned player. In
combination with the background novel, it generates quite an
authentic world that you'd feel good about having saved from
damnation. "Amberstar" features over 150 playing areas, over 90
magic spells (consisting of ones belonging to grey, white and
black magic) and 1.5 Mb of graphics. Impressive statistics!
If the sequel gets rid of the small but sometimes irritating
flaws (including the fact that you can only save one game
situation), I see no problem in it entering the RPG hall of fame
that now has "Ultima" written all across it. Karsten's creativity
is there. Jurie's programming capabilities are there. Thalion has
excellent graphics people (I understand Thorsten "Gogo" Mutschall
will do those for the next game - and he's even better than
Monika) and a good sound programmer. Some feedback from the
computer press (and, of course, the players) should assure
playability to become perfect as well. I only hope the marketing
strategy imposed on Thalion by its Public Relations person will
not decrease the game's prospects at world fame.
Overall rating: 8
Hardware: Color monitor and 1 Mb of memory.
Hard disk certainly advisable.
Remark: A good game. I'm sure the sequel
will even be better. PC and Amiga
versions also available.
I'd like to thank Jurie for arranging the game for me. May you
forever withstand the wiles of your designer. And...call me
soon, man! Your fellow QX members miss you!
The price of the game was never mentioned to me, but I guess
it's around 100 German marks. For those of you interested in it,
don't hesitate to write to Thalion (include an IRC, though!).
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.