Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm

Let's crawl another dungeon!

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure that feels like an 80s mash of Gauntlet with limited RPG elements. It may scream "1985" but it was actually released in 1990 by John Lince for STart Magazine. Impressively, it's programmed this in GFA Basic, a powerful language that has produced many games over the years.

Okay, the story is an evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer) and now she requires a valiant rescue. Whatever sex, we get to crawl monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. Obviously, I chose to be the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!!

Please, ignore its 8-bit appearance and enjoy the first screenshot. Dull decore but ace character details...

Wait, don't run away!! Remember that golden rule? Gameplay matters - not the graphics.

Plunge the depths!

There are 14 levels to plunder with the objective of finding keys to venture through and ultimately rescue our beloved. Each is made from a number of separate rooms and navigation is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead us through the dungeon.

The levels are mapped and included on the floppy disk (see below) and each is designed to be challenging but, never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. Battle against a range of monsters and solve puzzles that are slowly integrated into your adventure. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but that isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of hits. However, later puzzles require more thought than simple brute force.

We're a gingerbread man? Yes! But there are still many monsters to kill. Oh yeah!!

Tread carefully, adventurer

Various weapons can be collected and each translates into a specific number of knives for our adventurer to throw like a ninja. Do note that no other weapons are actually used but collecting a high ticket item - like an axe - will reward your inventory generously. The firing method will instantly feel familiar to Berzerk fans: just hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 (the maximum). It's hungry work being a heroic gingerbread man so chomp on whatever you find to keep yourself alive. If you are already near the max then it might be worth leaving food behind until later? Sadly, health isn't regenerated at the beginning of a brand new level and you will transform into a skeleton if you foolishly starve to death!!

Tips? Easy, be a savvy adventurer! Beware not to waste ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal. Remember to eat only when hungry. Finally, there are lots of locked doors - but use your keys wisely because not all doors need opening. Use your brain, Rambo!!

Oh dear, it looks like I've run out of energy thus instantly became a skeleton. Love it!


Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating as it reminds me of the games I played as a kid in the earlier 80s. Sure, there are more colours and a higher resolution but the feel remains authentic without having any unnecessary bloatware that would ruin the authenticity. Also, the sprites are all nicely drawn and with comical details: like the wobble of a zombie walk! The ghosts are fantastic and are my favourite.

Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s. Hearing a knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend flat-bang in the face is brilliant!! I'm not ashamed to admit I adore the 8-Bit atmosphere.

Prince or Princess, here are the details for power, weapons, your enemies and everything else.

The CryptO'pinion?

Mystic Realm is one of those games that proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom sound effects aren't required for a great gaming experience. And that is exactly what we have here. Even though I don't imagine many people reading this article would agree - well, not until you take the plunge and play a few games for yourself.

Fans of the RPG/Dungeon Crawling genres will love Mystic Realm, I am positive of this. It's no thrills with fantastic adventure elements and I have thoroughly enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing another damsel in distress!

An enjoyable, dungeon-crawling romp with frivolous graphics. And I loved every second of it!!


( Don't be a dummy!!! Click on each thumbnail to see the larger level maps displayed )

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