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 Review 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 game. 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 order. 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.