Welcome all you brave and valiant warriors to
issue # 17 of the diabolic
where colorful surroundings set the scene for the travels of
a barbarian's mighty cruisade
Targhan briefly inspected the information on the scroll and
subsequently dumped the paper remains into the first waste bucket
he encountered. He picked up the throwing star and turned about,
alert and ready to face the first of the many dangers that
awaited him. Climbing down a long rope he entered a damp, dark
dungeon, inhabited by a sword-wielding savage warrior. Unwilling
to lose his single missile weapon, he reacted to his opponent's
dangerous blows with well-aimed and precise counterattacks; all
the time trying to keep a respectable distance from his foe and
never attacking before the other let down his guard. In swift
strokes, Targhan ended the creature's threat.
Continuing into the dungeon, darkness became impenetrable -
Targhan realised that without some source of light, he might fall
prey to any number of unseen horrors. He returned to the entrance
cave and emerged into the outside world with the help of own
arms-only macho rope-climbing style. Targhan reflected it was too
bad there was no-one around to watch him.
His next opponent was too dangerous to approach; Targhan
jumped over one arrow and ducked another and was compelled to use
his throwing star to eliminate the archer. Further down into the
forest he killed two doombats; when he left their territory he
suddenly spotted another throwing star - and a strange mystic
creature like a sprite hovering nearby. A light, bright creature
that Targhan knew would provide him with the light he needed to
explore the underground before continuing on into the forests.
Back to the rope it was.
Hi once again to that most dreaded of all adventure solution
reviews, the savage Crimson's Column. Today we take a look at a
French action adventure that follows the line of such classics as
Psygnosis' Barbarian and Obliterator (and, less renowned, the
French Skrull) and is named
TARGHAN by SILMARILS.
Before explaining some of the game elements, it may be
opportune to explain just why it is that French software products
so often feature superior graphics. An explanation that must
focus on that most popular of French animations, la bande
dessinée - the historic, topical and artistic "big brother" of
the cartoon (no, I'm not saying that cartoons don't have
quality, take it easy). The French variant to the cartoon has
always meant much more than children's or teenage action; artists
like Hergé soon developed within their work an unbelievable
realism, dephth and detail. French "cartoonists" have contributed
to the quality of drawn images as much as have the Disney
studio's with their production of such animated movies as
Phantasia and Junglebook.
Now, in the "age of the computer" (which has, of course, only
just started) the graphics and animations found on monitor
screens are in no small part influenced by developments in the
cartoon-industry. And the French software people have not merely
been influenced by cartoon designers, they have also simply
contracted existing designers to develop graphics for software
So if the skies, the trees, the palace walls, the warriors and
the dragons in Targhan seem "more than real", keep in mind that
their style wasn't born overnight. They've been working on it.
And it shows.
On to the game. Contrary to Barbarian, Targhan is played by
joystick or keyboard. Both controls work o.k. but keep in mind
that a hole in the ground means jump, and if you push your
joystick right instead of right/up then it's a long way down (and
sometimes, no way up).
Targhan himself is a large, well-animated sort of warrior-
sprite and walks through the game collecting various items such
as potions, throwing stars, scrolls and different kinds of unique
treasure such as a chest or an amulet.
Compared to Barbarian again, the number of locations is about
twice as large - Targhan is not a quick-to-finish, small game.
There are several (three) Save Game points in the course of
Targhan's travels and this means you don't have to start all over
again each time your hero is beaten. Targhan doesn't have a set
number of lives, but each time he is hit in combat (or otherwise
wounded) his health decreases. The only way to regain health is
by finding and quaffing the right potions.
Again, a word for those of you interested in other Crimson's
Column articles, usually dealing with roleplaying phenomena.
Here's a short list of what's been published in ST NEWS hitherto
(FA is for Fantasy, SF is Science Fiction, S is for Solo (the
game has one "Hero(ine)"), P is for Party (usually four to eight
"player characters"), RP is for Role-Playing, AC is for Action,
SI is for Simulation):
Title Company Type ST NEWS
Sundog FTL SF S RP 2.3
Phantasie SSI FA P RP 2.4
Brataccas Psygnosis SF S AC RP 2.5
Roadwar 2000 SSI SF "Mad Max" RP 2.6
Barbarian Psygnosis FA S AC RP 2.7
Leisure Suit Larry Sierra S Text/Arcade 2.8
The Bard's Tale Electronic Arts FA P RP 3.1
Ultima III - Exodus Origin FA P RP 3.2
Wizard's Crown SSI FA P RP 3.3
Dungeon Master FTL/Sofware H. FA P RP 3.4
Police Quest Sierra S Text/Arcade 3.5
Obliterator Psygnosis SF S AC RP 3.6
Crimson's Xmas Crimsondeal inc. Inimical Realism 3.7
Heroes of the Lance SSI FA P AC RP 4.1
Leisure Suit Larry 2 Sierra S Text/Arcade 4.2
War in Middle Earth Synergistic Soft FA S/P RP/SI 4.3
Targhan Silmarils FA S AC RP 4.5
Let's have a look at Mr. Swordplay.
The dungeon under the forest seemed small and unrevealing at
first, but soon Targhan located an exit high in the wall. He
jumped onto the ledge near the hole and entered the first of a
series of narrow, low, maze-like corridors while a heavy gate
clashed shut behind him.
Ignoring the cinematographic side-effect of "no way back",
Targhan explored the tunnels, found many foes and traps, but then
also located some healing potions and, once he recovered a key, a
When he left the dank prison underground, he was healthy and
well-equipped and eager to meet the next challenge.
Our hero roamed through the hitherto unpolluted woods and
increased his load by picking up a small chest; already he had
trouble carrying all his treasure at once. Upon reaching a rope
leading to what seemed a village high up in the trees, he decided
to explore the unknown areas that lay ahead with nothing more
than the necessary weapons and potions and to leave the rest of
his treasure behind to pick up later. So equipped, Targhan
grabbed the rope and climbed up.
The tree village was a marvellous structure, rambling through
a large part of the old forest below and consisting of platform
after platform. On or between the platforms were small wooden
houses, cabins, bridges, and all the lanterns that were needed to
illuminate the community after sunset. Unfortunately for Targhan,
the many guards were less than friendly and refused to let him
pass. Although some of them could be bypassed with a trick,
others had to be killed to continue the quest; an unpleasant
circumstance but such misfortunes should not worry the dedicated
and determined warrior. Roaming the village, Targhan located
several more items of interest and, leaving the carnage, dumped
his burden and went back into the forest below to pick up the
bulk of his treasure. He returned with his belongings and reached
the second statue of Swalla, where he rested and contemplated his
achievements. So far, he had learned several interesting things
from scrolls, he had enough healing potions left to stand a good
chance in several more combats, and he was loaded with different
items he knew not how to use. Surely, Targhan thought, there will
come a time when I must know how to put my treasures to good use.
As cliches go, that time was only a screen away.
Targhan's old friend the magician was waiting for him. Knowing
that he could neither approach nor command him, Targhan bowed in
front of this person of extraordinary power. The magic user
observed him closely, then pulled down his cap to show a worn,
wrinkled face in which the eyes were cool, steady, ageless
Targhan knew that in order to gain his help, he should make an
offer - but what? Unsure of the right choice, he offered the
chest. Nothing. He offered his key, a ring; nothing. Then he
offered his last item of value and saw it rise in the air all of
its own, slowly floating to the hands of the magician who
transformed into a being of fire. Targhan was alone, but resting
on the ground was a bright stone of a material unknown to
Targhan and reportedly impervious to the laws of regular time and
Targhan picked up his most valuable treasure and vowed to keep
it with him at all times.
And then, he continued his quest.
Past the remains of what once had been a great dragon, Targhan
reached the opening of a grand castle. Its guard, a huge troll,
was strong but simple-minded; at close quarters Targhan was
almost impossible to hit for the creatures' enormous club.
Once killed, it collapsed into dry bones.
Targhan entered the castle and, using his throwing stars and
his fighting skill, advanced through each room until down in a
cave he heard great bellows. He took the rope and climbed, slowly
descending into a dank cave. Silently, he inched forward, until
he finally began to see the outline of a monster so fearsome, so
abominable, that he needed all his wits to keep from either
running or going berserk. What use his steel against a dragon of
fire? Only his agility and speed could help him here. Targhan
deliberated on the best approach for a long time, then finally
decided that the best thing to do was to approach the dragon
while remaining out of range of its breath weapon. He teased the
chained, immobile creature, forcing it to use its breath weapon
as a warning. At this point, Targhan reasoned, it would not be
able to attack again within the first few seconds.
Following his own reasoning, Targhan stepped closer. As
expected, the giant Wyrm clawed, stretched, and finally in its
frustration it let go of a huge spout of flame that singed
Targhans face. Immediately, he jumped, took the dragon's
treasure, and whirled about with another heroic leap while he
felt the hot breath in his neck. Targhan had escaped unscathed
from his greatest challenge.
In the same castle, the shining stone opened the first of the
magical gates at the moment Targhan entered the appropriate room.
Stepping inside the whirling, out-of-phase centre of the columns,
Targhan was transported through space and time and delivered in
the far corner of a sorceror's domain. Wherever he looked, he saw
only books, bottles, vials, scrolls and all the other
paraphernalia of a master wizard. Although wounded from the
first fireball, Targhan managed to kill the evil spellcaster. But
lo! the dying spirit played a last trick on our hero and
transmogrified into the shape of a large bat, attacking at once.
Bewildered and momentarily unsure of the right action, Targhan
retreated. The bat attacked again, but the steel of an ordinary
sword could not touch its ethereal being. Targhan turned around,
running from the room.
Checking the corners of the room to verify that no-one had
been witness to his heroic act, Targhan shook off his fears and
returned to the wizard's study, sword in hand. The bat was gone,
all that remained were over a dozen scrolls and potions.
Targhan read the scrolls and took only those potions that
would cause him no harm.
Having completely searched the castle, Targhan left through
the back gate and continued his journey overland, where nothing
threatened him but the occasional mercenary axeman or archer.
When he had walked a good distance, he perceived the outlines of
his final goal: the dark palace. Before entering the place where
he was bound to meet his destination, Targhan returned to other
places to collect his remaining treasures and hid them near the
entrance of the palace. Then, he once more prayed to Swalla.
The inside of the castle was once more lit by torches.
Undaunted by the overwhelming grandeur of his surroundings,
Targhan took all his treasures into the palace and started to
explore the rooms. If it had not been for his magical stone, the
palace would have seemed impressive but not particularly
extensive. As it was, large parts of it were hidden in other
dimensions, only to be reached by using the magic portals the
stone revealed on several places. Targhan searched and collected
further information and killed all his human, mortal enemies.
But apart from the many knights, skilled with steel, there
were three far more dangerous opponents, all skilled with magic.
First, there was another dragon, larger than the first but
Targhan used the same trick with equal success.
Second, the sorcerer - in order to gain the boon he needed to
defeat his final enemy, Targhan had to adapt his body to new
And finally, his great enemy. With great care and an
occasional swift stroke of his magic sword, Targhan defeated the
Dark One without ever touching him or coming near him.
And so completed his quest.
And that's all for this episode's hero, the fearless Targhan.
I never did find out what to do with half the treasures I found
but in case someone discovers that chest, ring or amulet are not
just decoy please let me know; I'll pass the word.
By the way, in this period of waiting for all the GREAT
roleplaying games (I'm talking August 1989 and most any ST gamer
I know of is anxiously awaiting the release of Chaos Strikes Back
and Sundog II from FTL and Pool Of Radiance and Hillsfar, Azure
Bonds etc. from TSR/SSI) I did happen to come across a few
goodies, some of them even less-than-very-recent, so I'll give
you some titles.
First of all, I've seen a demo-version of Bloodwych and damn
me if I didn't need several hours to finish that first, as the
authors promise, "tiny" level (and parts of the second and third
levels, or rather, seeing how stairs run both directions, levels
0, -1 and +1 respectively). The essence of Bloodwych is a split-
screen two-player Dungeon Master type of game and although the
demo lacked sound I was more than impressed; especially the fact
that it is more than just a Dungeon Master imitation in terms of
commands and structure makes it very attractive. Not only can you
communicate with anyone you encounter (small talk like praise or
serious business like What art thou called and Come join my merry
band) but you can use your 4 player characters to act more or
less independently. I'll not say more on it here but maybe next
time; in the meantime try to get the demo, it's PD and was sold
as part of a UK ST magazine, I believe ST World or something like
Next, Galdregon's domain, three single sided disks filled with
magnificent graphics in a game that should, alack, be described
as a Dungeon Master imitation. Remember I warned you all this
was going to happen; since FTL's success everyone wants a piece
of that cake which is all right with me but don't just put
together a lot of fancy graphics, roleplaying should be more that
hack & slash. Fact is, Galdregon's domain has some very nice
features (like leaving the castle, walking around outside,
entering woods or a temple and then running from one inn to
another, all in great graphic detail) but unless I'm very much
mistaken there's little logic in the whole thing in the sense
that you are a reportedly good hero who has to do evil things in
order to defeat an evil magician. More on this in another issue;
Galdregon's domain is not a bad game - apart from the logical
errors it's o.k.
Next: if, up to one year ago, anyone had told me or any other
adventurer/roleplayer that Infocom was into graphics I would have
laughed in his face. Guess what? Infocom is into graphics (shut
The game (there are more but I think only one RPG on the ST
yet) is called Battletech and for those of you familiar with SF
boardgames it uses the man-rides-war-robot principle of, for
instance, Titus Andronicus (did I get that name right? - I'm not
sure). I think there's a Schwarzenegger film with these things in
it as well. Anyway, you're Jason Youngblood, son of the famous
Jeremiah Youngblood and you would have had a nice and easy life
quietly training in your 'mech and getting your education
together if it hadn't been for the sudden Kuritan invasion and,
you guessed it, war makes men out of boys so get your act
together and stay alive, buddy. I'll probably do one of the next
issues on this good but relatively short game (finished it in a
few days but I have to admit it was exciting).
Talking about the next issue, that'll probably be on the first
of the nice in-betweens, Demon's Winter from, yes yes yes,
Strategic Simulations Inc. I'll not say more about it except that
in my view it is the near-perfect combination of Phantasie (I, II
and III) and Wizard's Crown combining the best elements of both
and leaving out their less attractive aspects.
Comes the time to say goodbye to all you joymousers; keep your
characters alive and your saved games backed up & if you manage
to really mess up the whole thing remember old cousin Crimson
will make your day by answering any ol' question, please write to
Lucas van den Berg
6511 RL Nijmegen
-- The Netherlands --
So do the best you can but
Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter.
Measure for Measure
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.