Title Knights of the Crystallion Game Type Adventure Company U.S. Gold 1991 Author Bill Williams Players 1 HD Installable No Compatibility Not AGA? Submission D.J. Review If you like fast paced shoot'em ups you won't like this game. If you like juggling a variety of slower paced, integrated problems then this game is just the ticket. THE GAME The "Knights of the Crystallion" is basically a fantasy adventure but it covers a wide range of play aspects including a management sim, several games that could almost be stand-alones and a platform style maze, the solution of which is the ultimate goal. The graphics are varied and, for the most part, quite stylish and atmospheric, with accompanying mood music for each section. Access to the various sections is through a main menu screen, with floating Orodrid vertabra representing each one. The HARESH (management sim) The game takes place in Orodrid, a city built inside the ribs of an enormous sea creature that died eons before. Each rib is controlled by a clan. Each clan has seven families; you are the head of one. Each family manufactures three of seven commodities, in descending order of price and quality (eg. a family might produce the best Meat and Dairy, the second best Pottery and the worst Books and Songs. As well as producing and selling these commodities you must also consume them. The better quality you consume the better the health and fertility of your family. You have to strike a balance between improving your family's fortunes without damaging those of the rest of your clan. I won't describe the entirety of this process but suffice to say it gets quite involved. Periodically disasters hit and you are expected to rescue other families with a sort of charity lottery. If you fail to meet their needs they will leave the clan. Lose too many families and the economy may collapse. You will also have opportunities to trade with outsiders (Mudders) which injects money into your clan economy, eventually improving everybody's lot. As you adventure outside the Haresh you will need to check in periodically. Failing to attend to the needs of the family is as certain a way to loose the game as dying. The HARESH is controlled through a series of screens that are basically nicely decorated windows against an animated sky. Here, amongst other things, you set prices and production quotas, buy for your family, review your statistics, arrange caravans, dispense charity and, of course, make needed donations to the priests of the TSIMIT. The TSIMIT (platform style jump and shoot) The skull of the dead sea creature is a maze and deep within that is a Crystallion egg just waiting for you. To navigate the maze you need a special suit that protects you from the attacks of the resident monsters. You can survive one attack for each charge (life) the suit carries (more on that later). At first your suit has only one charge. You use your initial sorties to gather power crystals. You have only one weapon, a ball of light that destroys the monsters and lights your way. The monsters are kind of cheesy but deadly, nonetheless. Each time you solve a level of the maze you are presented with a riddle that can be answered from a supplied book of poetry (The Tocanon). For reasons I will not share it is essential to have the original book if you are to solve the final puzzle. Of all the graphics the TSIMIT is the only disappointment. The practical layout is fine but the depiction attempts three dimensions using two, and does it with limited success. The colours are flat (well, it's a cave after all) although the textures and details are good. The PRODA Charging your suit is done in the Proda, which is a game played with the power crystals you gather. It involves arranging and rearranging the crystals in groupings, as certain conditions change (roving "prods" that bump your arrangements, parasitic "cripids" that steal your crystals). Arrangements of crystals periodically discharge "lives" into a collector. You must accumulate as many lives as you can within a given time period. Other SIDE GAMES You also develop your skills and entitlements with two additional games. As you advance in levels you must play a game of BOSU against the priests that guard the skull. Bosu is played against a computer opponent and is similar to Go or White Lion; you claim spots on the board by bracketing them with your stones. The BOSU board is an octagonal spider's web with five concentric rings. Each intersection of the web is a potential scoring opportunity. You can score along the octagonal lines or around the rings. You have to both claim points and block your opponent. (This would be a great stand alone game.) *In order to improve your psychic abilities (and we all need to do this, don't we?), you will play a game called DEKETA, a memory card game. Eight pairs of cards are arranged on a rough wooden table, lit by flickering candle light (this is perhaps the most effective and stylish screen in the game). You must match pairs of cards in as few moves as possible. Each time you match a pair the layout rearranges itself. As you get better you are able to "see" the numbers through the card backs but the rearrangement gets more confusing as well. I enjoyed the variety of this game. It is relatively complex but very "do-able"; you can complete it without dedicating an enormous part of your life to it. The graphics are usually excellent and very innovative for the time (1991). The integration of the various elements with the story, and even the copy protection, was quite effective and clever. Some aspects were a bit tedious and the fantasy can seem a little hokey at times. But all in all it was fun and satisfying, especially the "Doh! How could I have missed THAT!" in the final puzzle.