OBLITERATOR by Richard Karsmakers
This story is dedicated to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien, master
of fantasy and fiction and founder of the wonderful countries of
Middle Earth and the strange beings wandering there. The creator
of probably the best fantasy story ever written: "The Lord of the
Darkness was already spreading across the country when Eriol
raised his eyes upon a small inn, still at a couple of minutes'
walk distance from him. He sighed deeply, for he he had travelled
long and his feet were aching - and so was his stomach as he had
been eating rather little lately. Behind the small windows of
that shelter for the night he saw the flickering of candles and a
strange feeling tainted his heart as he slowly came near. He
closely examined the fair surroundings of this place; he saw the
high elms and oaks on the hill to the west, and witnessed the sun
laying itself to rest behind these immense trees - until dawn,
when it would rise in all its pride again. Coloured orange and
red as the sun set, the exterior gave him the impression of a
faerytale. Again, he sighed deeply, and went down to the front
He read the sign hanging outside the doorpost. "Cottage of Lost
Play" he spoke aloud. Where had he learned that before? He was
about to knock on the heavy wooden door, garmented with
skillfully manufactured metal ornaments, when the door opened and
the face appeared of an old man - probably the inn-keeper. He
looked old (though not as old as Eriol himself) and his hair was
correspondingly grey, but his eyes seemed to glow with youth.
Eriol looked over the man's shoulder and saw various folk sitting
around a cosy fire, laughing and chatting merrily.
The old man said nothing, smiled with his eyes, and made way for
Eriol to enter the candle-lit room. When the old man closed the
door, it seemed like all fatigue dropped off Eriol (he who was
amongst his kindred called the Tale-teller of Old). It was like
he felt this to be one of the kindest places he had ever been -
most rightly so. He looked around and carefully noted everything
in the room. The bar seemed to be made of the same material as
the sturdily built door, probably very old and inherited from
times and places before modern man's history. The people present
spoke in different tongues, yet they all seemed to be able to
understand one another perfectly. Some small tables were present
on the eastern wall, under a window where he saw the two moons of
Mandos rising as well as some stars glittering.
"Sit down, please," said the old man, "I am Orom, keeper of the
'Cottage if Lost Play' inn." His eyes now not only seemed to glow
with youth, but with friendlyness also. Orom offered Eriol a cup
of heavenly scenting juice, which the Tale-teller of Old did not
refuse as his throat was very dry indeed. Apart from some
dizzyness after drinking this fluid, Eriol suddenly noticed that
he could now understand what the other folk was talking about.
After having seen the look of surprise on Eriol's features, the
inn-keeper called for a silence and everybody looked at him,
instantly keeping silent. "This, my dear folk," pronounced Orom,
"is Eriol, the Last Tale-teller of Old. Finally, fate has brought
him here, together with some good luck!" He added the last part
of his sentence with a bit of a blasphemous smile while glancing
to the ceiling.
Eriol wasn't concerned with the fact that the old man seemed to
know him, and was soon talking intensely with the gathered
people, who all turned out to be Tale-tellers themselves,
gathered from all directions - the dark countries of the Swamps
of Threat, the bright lands where the Empress of Everything
ruled, hunters from the Plains of Mysticism and folk from the
ancient tribe now living on the Forgotten Isles over the Great
Waters. They had all been directed miraculously to Orom's inn.
Nobody knew anything about Eriol's past, or from the past of
anyone else present for that matter - except for the past of
themselves and maybe the inn-keeper, Orom the old man.
"Let him who came in the latest be the first to speak forth his
Tales!" so cried Orom, who had now lit a pipe and had made
himself comfortable in a lowering of the floor near the hearth.
The others quietly sat down near Orom, waiting for Eriol to start
his tale. And it went thus:
"Many years ago, when the planet was still fair and no Swamps of
Threat nor any other dark countries existed (while saying this,
he carefully observed one of the aforementioned Tale-tellers, who
just sat and kept listening), mankind lived happy and prosperous.
There were no wars to be fought and no battles to be won, and
'tis now known that people then were foolish enough not to bear
in mind that but a small interference in the balances of power
would cause global warfare. However, nobody had expected that
this interference would come from planets formerly unknown, even
from creatures not earlier seen by man's eyes..."
He glanced around the illustrious group of men listening to him
while occasionally sipping their drinks, that now looked at him
with incredulity in their deep eyes. Never before had they heard
of life amongst the stars other than theirs. Normally, Eriol
would not have been listened to any further, as there was one
unspoken rule between the Tale-tellers of old: True stories only.
But somehow, because of reasons seemingly not known to any of
them, they kept listening. Eriol's presence and voice seemed to
fill everybody's minds with a sense of truth. Only Orom seemed to
know why, as he smiled self-sufficiently while inhaling deeply.
"It was spring, and the trees were full of boughs ready to show
their newly created leaves to the bright light of the sun, the
birds sang songs of love and mother nature nursed the newly born
with care and warmth.
The whole planet was a paradise for the harmless, the innocent,
the unknowing, even the powerless. There was no exorbitant
richness nor poverty, nor did any of the bad virtues of mankind
prevail. Every day, the sun would rise and set and yet another
day of joy and merriment would have passed. Every morning there
would be shady layers of soft mist and honeydew over the meadows
Alas! This joy was not to be for long, as a dark shape obscured
the sun on one of those merry days, frightening the people and
animals dwelling there. As no harm was forethought by this
peaceful people, it was no problem for these extraterrestrials to
enslave them all, slaughter their cattle and turn the once fair
country in a desolate plain where only rough grass would further
grow. Dark clouds gathered above the lands, clouds that would
grow more immense every day: Dark clouds that mankind had not
seen since the Ancient Wars of Old!
It was merely a few days after the brutal and unprovoked act of
alien agression that the Federation Council heard of it. It was
they who sent Drak, the last of the Obliterators, to fight the
battle nobody had wanted and to claim the victory nobody had
sought. Drak was the sole survivor of an elite team of warriors
that had fought many a battle - and survived! Drak carried the
hopes of all the population with him as he entered the hostile
territory, now known as the Lands of Enslavement..."
Eriol now took a draught of his beer, and went on: "Drak met no
resistance. He was disgusted by the foul creatures now living
there and didn't even dare to prey upon them in fear of being
poisoned, but there were no apparent invaders in the dark lands
anymore. Nor were there people, for that matter. Drak felt an
evil presence, however, and he felt worse than he had ever felt
before while fighting for whoever paid the most - like he had so
often done. The black mists around him seemed to grow heavier and
heavier as he penetrated deep into the Lands of Enslavement.
After many an hour of walking, he noticed light just before him.
As he came closer, he clearly realised that what he saw was a
tall tree with fresh green leaves, bathing in light of the sun
that shone high above. It was like metal chains falling off his
heart when he saw this sight of beauty in the middle of darkness.
But he had not yet fully entered the circle of light when he
felt a queer sensation running through his veins. He felt giddy
for a moment, and next thing he knew he was in a surrounding
completely different from all he had ever seen before. It was
more frightening than the submarine empire of the Sorcerer of
Death, technically more highstanding that the dungeons of
Zerostein the Professor of Retrogation and it felt more evil than
the very depths of Hell! By a means not known to Drak or to
mankind, his molecular structure had been moved from the earth's
surface to the heart of the Alien battleship. It was as if
sorcery and wizardry prevailed here, and Drak felt uncomfortable
right into his bones..."
Eriol again looked around the men that sat listening in silence,
their eyes filled with wonder as he emptied his mug. There was a
deafening silence in the room. The fire had gone out and the
coals were only glowing now. The faces of the men looked grim
with the dark red glow on their faces, some covered with heavy
The hunter from the Plains of Mysticism, known as Valor the
Impetuous One amongst his kin, was the first to break the
silence. "What did happen? Was it the God's will for Drak to
survive? Please do tell more!" While saying this, he filled
Eriol's mug to its rim.
A look of sadness settled itself on Eriol's face. "The rest of
the story is too sad to tell. If have not come here to tell tales
that will make your hearts feel weary. I would rather tell
faeries of happyness but alas! I know none."
After having said that, Eriol raised himself and put down the
mug. For a moment, it looked as if he was going to reveal the end
of his tale after all, but he merely sighed from deep within his
torso, turned around and left the 'Cottage of Lost Play' inn.
The man from the Swamps of Darkness cleared his throat and, to
Orom, said: "Who is this man? Who is Eriol, Tale-teller of Old?"
Orom kept silent for a while. "Eriol," he added, "is the only
descendant of the last of the Obliterators. Drak's son."
The men fell silent.
Under the light of the two moons of Mandos, both equally pale,
Eriol walked, sad and lonely. On his way to the next inn to tell
his Tale of old, the tale of the destruction of his home
Accompanied by a superb piece of Roger Dean artwork (a poster,
as usual), the latest Psygnosis release "Obliterator" has
immediate tendencies to fight its way high into the software
polls. Again supplied in the familiar package with manual, the
mentioned poster and two disks, the presentation can again be
called excellent. Just as it should be, to my opinion.
And what about the game itself?
We're spoilt to death by all previous Psygnosis releases, so
it's harder by the day to impress the lot of us. In spite of this
stigma, Garvan Corbett has again succeeded in equalling (and
maybe even exceeding) earlier standards, whereas Psygnosis
finally seem to have discovered the concept of game music as
well: David Whittaker was arranged to do the title and game music
and he has done an outstanding job indeed!
In "Obliterator", the player becomes Drak - the last of the
Obliterators. The earth is under threat from outer space and the
player enters the game just while Drak's molecular structure is
being re-assembled aboard the huge and threatening alien
battleship. In this battleship, comprising over 100 screens of
varying graphics in three dimensions, Drak must not only disable
the battleship's Plasma drive engines and the main weapons
system, but he must also recover computer datapacks and the
information contained therein (sorry for the Tolkien-ish here and
there). Needless to add, the battleship is crowded with loonies
and other vermin that try to make sure that Drak does not succeed
in accomplishing his mission.
Graphics and music are, as I already stated, up to high
standards. The animation is quite good though not as smooth as
might be achievable on the ST. Scrolling is quite good and the
sound effects are very impressive. Garvan again seems to have
come up with a brilliant set of colours - something which is
extremely important but which many graphic artists underestimate.
Game control can be done by either mouse, keyboard or joystick -
though the latter is not recommended. I used to play "Barbarian"
with the mouse, so I started playing "Obliterator" with the mouse
as well. Although I agree there is probably no better way to
control a game with similar complexity, I still think the current
mouse control is not perfect at all.
Alltogether, "Obliterator" is even better than "Barbarian", to
which it has great resemblance. The one big disadvantage of this
new Psygnosis product is that the intro is again quite lousy in
comparison with the Amiga version: On the ST, a man appears that
tells you to insert disk B. OK, the graphics are superb, but on
the Amiga the man starts shooting at you with stunning sounds and
animation on top of that. Mr. Lawson, this is also possible on
the ST! Why don't you DO it?
I'd like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Jonathan Ellis and his
charming assistant Pamela at Psygnosis for sending the review
1st Floor, Port of Liverpool Building
Liverpool L3 1BY
Value for Money: 8.5
Overall rating: 9
Remark: When'll they do something about
those dully intros?!