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8 Stars IFReview Rating The Sands of Mars

IFReviewed by Tom Zuchowski on 2006-05-13 10:00 

Game Profile

Author
Ted Swartz

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Eamon

Release Year
1988

IFR Overall Rating
8 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator

MAIN PGM Version: 4 (heavily modified)

Extra Commands: VANISH, MATERIALIZE, SUSPEND

Deleted Commands: None, no Save

Special Features: Runs in 'real time'; single-key commands

Playing Time: 1-3 hr.

Reviewer Rating: 8.0

Average Rating: 5.7/3

Description: As you leave the Main Hall, you are challenged by a guard who could only have come from the Red Planet. He speaks - 'The Martians are looking for a few good men. Be all that you can be. Join us.'

You accept his challenge, and follow him to an odd shimmery area where your eyes waver and you can't quite make out what lies beyond. The Martian says, 'Remember to pick your friends well. You'll meet two groups, the Green Meanies and the Rowdy Reds. You must choose between them. Your choice will guide your destiny through your stay. And whatever decisions you make, make them fast! Mars waits for no man.'

He pushes you into the shimmering field. Your guts twist and then...

Comment: This adventure is 100% unique in that it runs in 'real time'. That is, combat continues to happen whether you do anything or not. The other guy will attack you every five seconds or so even if you don't type anything. This is very disconcerting at first, but you quickly learn to hit the bad guy as soon as you see him. It has been modified so that you only need to hit a single key to enter all commands so that you can keep up. To make the single-key thing possible, some commands (such as the spells) are typed in through the SAY command. There is also a SUSPEND command that pauses the 'real time' feature; it resumes as soon as you hit any key.

The map consists of 95 rooms that contain two castles and a battlefield in the middle. The map is a perfect mirror image; that is, the Green castle has exactly the same floor plan as the Red castle, but reversed. I picked the Red side since they are the good guys in Burroughs' 'John Carter of Mars' books, but it doesn't matter which side you choose to join, as the map, monsters, and artifacts are identical on both sides.

Like many early Eamons, this one isn't extremely sophisticated in its puzzles. In fact they are rather difficult to reason out, but if you persevere in trying directions and doing LOOKs you should be able to find all the pieces. Here's a few hints: the book can be opened; read the inscription over the exit (which isn't in a castle); and don't enter the enemy castle until you can VANISH (unless you enjoy heavy combat).

While I gave this adventure an (8) because I really enjoyed the 'real time' feature, the other two people who have rated it didn't like the feature and rated it much lower. To be sure, the bad guys are plenty tough and the good guys don't help much. Bring your heavy armor and big guns for this one. You may or may not enjoy the novelty; all you can do is try it and see for yourself.

I originally gave this a difficulty of (4). This is somewhat misleading, as some combat is heavy and the puzzles might be a bit obscure if you miss a step. While the difficulty isn't bad for a heavy-duty character and a player who is careful to cover all the bases, it will be much tougher for children. They will undoubtedly enjoy the 'real time' combat, but they probably won't solve it.

Used with Matthew Clark's kind permition.
Original review available at Eamon Adventurer's Guild Online
website.

    Tom Zuchowski Profile

    Name Tom Zuchowski
    Gender Male

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