Realm Of Impossibility
Michael B. Williams
Requirements: Commodore 64, Apple II series, or Atari 8-bit computer.
Realm of Impossibility is a decidedly classic, run-as-fast-as-you-can, three-dimensional arcade game with a goal: Enter the network of 13 dungeons and retrieve the seven crowns hidden within them. That would be a cinch were it not for the team of zombies, orbs, and spiders whose goal it is to prevent you from completing yours.
About the only things going for you in this Realm are your faster speed, the ability to fend off the creatures by throwing holy crosses in their path, and scrolls that give you spells to temporarily freeze or confuse your adversaries, or to protect you from them.
Otherwise, life is definitely not fair to you here. You can't kill the creatures of the Realm, although they can kill you. You only have one life to live, and each brush with a zombie, orb, or spider will cost you more of the precious hit points you need to stay alive.
Fortunately, you can enter the dungeons in any order, so you can build up hit points by tackling the easier dungeons first. Some of the dungeons are locked; these will need keys that are located in the other dungeons. In all, there are 129 different rooms to explore. Chances are you'll get to see all of them, since the prize in each dungeon is almost always at the end.
Realm of Impossibility has a three-dimensional effect (like the three-quarters perspective in Zaxxon) that is a pleasure to behold. You move up, down, and around three-dimensional structures that look more like a futuristic cityscape than an ancient dungeon. Unfortunately, what looks good is not necessarily what plays well, as kamikaze Zaxxon players will attest.
A Little Help From A Friend
What distinguishes Realm of Impossibility from the run-of-the-mill chase game is not the three dimensions, but one element: cooperation. In the typical arcade game, you are one person doing a job that would normally require an entire army to accomplish. At about the 1000th level, you start wishing you were an army—or at least that you had someone to help you play the game.
With Realm of Impossibility, you still won't have an army, but you can have a friend help you through each dungeon. Having two players on the field at once gives the zombies and his friends two targets instead of one, but it also gives you a chance to divert the menaces while your buddy safely snatches the key (or, preferably, you swipe the key while he acts as zombie bait).
An additional advantage of the two-player game is the ability to resurrect your partner whenever the little buggers finish him off. Of course, you've got to get over to him before they knock you off. In the one-player mode, once you're finished, so is the game.
When you play Realm (which, according to the developer, Origin Systems, can run in the Apple IIGs's emulation mode), you must use a joystick; a second player may use either the keyboard or a second joystick. Learning to navigate the 3-D rooms is a bit tricky no matter which you use. Until you become proficient at it, don't worry too much about running into walls—it's the zombies, spiders, and orbs you need to avoid.
You'll enjoy the four difficulty levels (from easy to severe), the online instructions (no more lost manuals), and the cute touches (the player waves "Hello!" at the entrance to each dungeon), but the game's musical score will cause you to reach for the sound toggle after a bar or two. A single keypress will cut off the sound (or turn it back on).
By far the best thing about Realm of Impossibility is its two-player mode. Forget its wonderful three-dimensional color graphics. The ability to work together with a friend, instead of competing against one, makes this a game even an arcade-game hater could love.
Realm of Impossibility
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