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Schwert und Magie 4: Die Burg des Magiers

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German Design Group 1990
Genre: RPG
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64

Just by flipping the floppy disk, we've been magically transported from the pirate coast back to generic sword & sorcery waters. Back to right where the very first part of the series left off: that story's bad guy has kidnapped the familiar princess and keeps her prisoner on his castle. The king can't just send his army, as that would cause a major diplomatic crisis with the already not too friendly neighbour. So our adventurer has to take things into his own hands again.


Schwert und Magie 5: Das Haus des Vampirs

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German Design Group 1991
Genre: RPG
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64
A certain count Alucard has rented a feudal mansion on the small island of Romania. Since he moved in, little boys and girls keep disappearing from their beds in the middle of the night. The local druids took action and magically locked the vampire inside his house. They simply forgot to include the count's henchman in the ban. This way, the bad guy got hold of several pieces of the artefact whose power could free him again. The last druid calls our now seasoned adventurer – tonight is the final chance to defeat the bloodsucker once and for all.

Schwert und Magie 6: Der Turm des Todes

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German Design Group 1991
Genre: RPG
Rating: 2/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64
Our adventurer just can't catch a break. Even though kings have been in his debt on several occasions and he has been rewarded with jewels, he is broke again; he even had to sell his sword! Luckily, his next employer provides a new one. We're supposed to retrieve a magical orb from the ruins of a late colleague's former home.

Schwert und Magie 7: Unter Wasser!

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German Design Group 1992
Genre: RPG
Rating: 1/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64
Mermaid Sara tells our adventurer of a vast underwater world previously unknown to him, which her people share with the Atlanteans, who have physically adapted to underwater life after their island was swallowed by the ocean. Unfortunately, war has been raging for several years. This was triggered by a holy Atlantean statue disappearing, for which the mermaids were blamed. Sara is subsequently kidnapped by Atlantean soldiers right in front of our hero. Thanks to a special kind of chewing gum, the player's alter ego is able to breathe under water, so he throws himself into the waves and dives down.

Schwert und Magie 8: Insel der Wunder

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German Design Group 1992
Genre: RPG
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64
The previous part left a bit of a disenchanting impression, so expectations for part 8 will have been low. The underwater adventure previously played may actually have been the low point of the series by objective measures, disregarding general series fatigue. All the better that this one is indeed a very positive surprise: Insel der Wunder (island of wonders) brings the series to a clean close. Almost as if they suspected that this could be the last part and wanted to leave us with their best.

Scotland Yard

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Markt & Technik 1987
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64
Scotland Yard was a big hit on the 1980s board game market. Absolutely everyone was hunting Mister X and got to know London in the process (at least superficially). Though in spite of the revealing font used on the title, this game has basically nothing in common with the much more famous Scotland Yard. Nevertheless, it is familiar from the board game world. Just that it is called Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective originally. Seems someone neglected to negotiate licencing terms. The diogenes club makes an appearance nevertheless.

Screamer

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Graffiti 1995
Genre: Sport, Simulation
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

"3.. 2 .. 1 .. GO!" And right off the racers go with screaming tyres, tailgating each other eagerly to reach the lead position, which has to be defended at high speed. You snooze, you loose! With great care you have to worm your way past your opponents, while they try to slam you against the tunnel wall or slow you down by surrounding you from all sides. If you don't take care, you end up in the ditch real fast, where you have to struggle hard to reach up front again. Welcome to Screamer, one of the fastest racing games of the late nineties!


Seas of Blood

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Puffin Books 1985
Genre: RPG
Rating: 3.5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Gamebook, ZX Spectrum
[Mr Creosote] Seas of Blood… this is going to be a tough discussion for me, because I have to admit this was the gamebook which I read/played more often than any other when I was a kid. Whether this was due to thematic preference, due to gameplay-related strengths or other aspects, we will probably find out. However, I cannot guarantee that I can stay objective at all times. Please excuse the occasional drift into nostalgia.

Secret of Mana

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Square 1994
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: SNES

When I started playing this game, I got hooked immediately. It just has...something that makes it addictive. What that is, I can't say.

For its time, it has very good graphics, almost as good as its successor, but it doesn't have great music to go along with it (except for a few major exceptions). The sound effects, however, are good, the combat system is great (Real-Time, with special attacks, throws with the glove weapon, numbers that indicate damage which are bigger if the hit is more severe, critical hits (i.e. Rabite gets whacked) while the enemies can also make criticals, you can move and swing/thrust/hit in all directions, and opponents actually fly back and fall to the ground because of the force of your hits. Plus, it just looks good ;)


Secret of Mana 2

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Square 1995
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 6/6
Licence: Commercial
System: SNES

This is, in my opinion, THE best game ever made for the SNES. It has almost everything:
-A good storyline, with 6 different beginnings (one for each of the 6 characters) and 3 different final areas. It will keep you in front of your screen for many hours, with the occasional unexpected event, and then, just when you think you've almost finished the game, you find out that you're only at about one third of the game! (Yep, it's WAAAAY longer than Secret of Mana 1) and that's just with one party, with 119 other possible parties still waiting to be tried, or, if you have too little time for that, 2 other game endings...



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