Crystals of Arborea

Title           Crystals of Arborea
Game Type       RPG
Company		Electronic Arts (Written by Raven Software)
Players         1
Compatibility   Not AGA
HD Installable  ?
Submission      Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer

Effectively the prequel to the "Ishar" series, this game introduces the
Elven prince, Jarel, of the land of Arborea.  Arborea was corrupted by the
rule of the evil Morgoth, a banished god (direct Tolkien reference:
Morgoth, the evil Vala).  In order to destroy Morgoth, and restore the
Kingdom, Prince Jarel and his trusted companions set out on a quest to
find, and correctly place, 4 magic crystals.  This is the object of the

At the time that this game was released (about 1989? - can't recall) the
Silmarils graphics, gameplay and style were beginning to push the
envelope. They were something special.  Also this was rare - to have good
(contemporary) graphics AND gameplay.  There, 2 major pluses for the game
already!  It also introduced a view concept which I think more
RPG/Adventure could have used and advanced: That being the ability to turn
around and view your fellows.  Oddly, even Silmarils left this out with
the "Ishar" series. Perhaps too much programming/processing requirements?
The game had lovely landscape and character graphics as well as intro,
"event" and finale graphic sequences (for the time). As I recall, the
general interface was nothing special, but it functioned well.

You played the part of Jarel, principally, but you could control movement
of your team mates. The game was played in 2 different view modes - 2D for
travelling over the landscape as a team, or 3D with Jarel's POV for
exploring underground tunnels etc.  Some extra inventiveness (again, not
followed up in the sequels) was the ability to send each of your team
mates off separately to explore other areas, deal with enemy groups, etc.
This helped cover more ground, but it did leave characters vulnerable if
they were alone, weak, or in limited numbers when accosted by enemies.
The different characters were identified by coloured dots in the 2D
landscape overview mode (a monitor, rather than a TV, makes this easier on
the eyeballs).  Another novelty, was the changing light between day and
night. The latter held increased likelihood of a certain enemy encounter -
the Dark Elves. Characters also had to take time out to rest, so you had
to find a (relatively) safe place.

So, how was it to play?  Even for a novice RPG-er, I reckon the difficulty
level was fine, and therefore an excellent introduction to the genre.
Although the more experienced could perhaps use something a little more
taxing, it was still a highly enjoyable romp and a nice game to call up if
you didn't want to be overtaxed, just for the pleasure of it.  However, as
hinted above, many enemy encounters could be troublesome, so
overconfidence could be penalised!  There wasn't too much wandering around
(some other RPGs fall down here) and there were few places to go without
event or encounter - trouble (especially at night) or friendly characters
e.g. in dwellings who could give you (slightly crytptic) hints. One or two
of the crystals were quite easy to find, as was one of the towers to which
a crystal belonged (hope I'm not giving too much away here?). The rest
were more tricky and risky. This was good, as it allowed encouragement,
through a little easy achievement, to embolden you for the increasingly
difficult stuff.  Also, it avoided being too linear - you could complete
the quest without having to do things/meet people/go to places in a strict

Overall?  Let me put it this way - if there was a way to make it work on
my A1200HD, I'd try to obtain it again!  Recommended, if you have a
non-AGA OS2.x machine.

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