Product ReviewsPhantasie II, Guild of Thieves
SSI has released an exciting 8-bit Atari version of Phantasie II, the second entry in their premier adventure series. And while 8-bit owners will miss out on the ST version's brilliant graphics, at least now all Atarians can go another round with the evil Nikademus.
Phantasie lovers can rejoice at the prospect of sending up to six adventurers to the island of Ferronrah, over which the Dark lord Nikademus has cast a cloud of evil. Veterans can transfer their old character, although by doing so they forfeit most of their accumulated wealth and power. Newcomers (and those who have lost faith in their current warriors) create characters by selecting race and occupation and then watching as the computer randomly generates values for attributes such as intelligence, strength and wisdom.
As you search the island for an enchanted orb, your party will encounter a variety of creatures, most of which will have to be dispatched by force. Castles and dungeons hold treasures and dangers beyond your wildest dreams, and most players can count on hours of play before this game is completed.
As you grow in power you will wield stronger and stronger spells, defeating enemies of ever-increasing strength. But Phantasie II is a game of brains as well as brawn, so success also depends on the intelligence of you and your character.
You can use either the keyboard or the joystick to keep the action moving, using ST-like menus. The graphic displays are well designed and help keep even the newcomer right on top of the action. A generous manual completely and concisely explains the game, adding plenty of tables and charts for quick and easy reference. All in all, Phantasie II is a fine addition to anyone's software library and a must for all adventurers. Its practically transparent user interface allows you to concentrate on playing the game-on living the adventure--and isn't that really what it's all about?--STEVE PANAK
$39.95, 48K disk. Strategic Simulations Inc.1046 N. Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043. (415) 964-1353.
GUILD OF THIEVES
The 8-bit Atari version of Guild of Thieves, sequel to the popular game The Pawn, is a sophisticated graphic adventure that had me fully involved.
The Pawn transported you to the land of Kerovnia. You return to Kerovnia in The Guild of Thieves as an apprentice to a master thief. You are told to steal all the treasures in the area while being watched and judged closely.
The Pawn and Guild of Thieves are not directly connected, except that they are both set in Kerovnia and share small details. The monetary system is based on the ferg and Farthington's Ale is the local drink. As in The Pawn, commands are entered in full sentences. These include phrases such as "Go north west and take the key." Multiple commands make things much easier for the prospective thief. To return to a location you've been through, just type in its name.
The game can be saved at different points and reloaded. This you want. A helpful feature of the command editor is the ability to take back a move by pressing the escape key. The graphics can be scrolled up or down by pressing [SELECT] or [START]. The outstanding graphics of The Pawn are matched by those in Guild of Thieves. High-resolution pictures transport you into a medieval world of thieves, castles and treasure. The only complaint I have about the Atari XE/XL version is that most of the detailed graphics had only shades of one or two colors.
The annoying copy protection scheme makes you enter a specific word from "What Burglar?" when reloading a saved game. The game also accesses the disk frequently, especially for the graphics. Fortunately you can speed things up by turning the graphics off. And if you liked The Pawn, you are sure to love this superior sequel.--JOHN MANOR
$39.95, 48K disk. Firebird Licensees. Distributed by Activision, P.O. Box 7286, Mountain View, CA 94039. (415) 960-0410.