The Victorian Hawk Dragon has currently reviewed the following:
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part Two
No indeed, the Elves do not! But what of Men, can they throw back the Darkness of Sauron, all by themselves? For a Time, does this Classic Fantasy Tale, appear to suggest (at least to me), that Men very well can! Or perhaps instead, I to (like Boromir), was under the Spell of Darkness, and the Power of the One Ring, to Rule them All:
For the forth point, on why this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read - is it's range of Dark Fantasy Creatures ... At the Head is Sauron, a Dark Sorcerer, whose Magnificence of Old, is only hinted at (within this Tale). Even so, did I quite enjoy, the Chapter called The Council of Elrond, as it lays the seeds, for the Character of Sauron, in the Later Days of Middle-Earth. He wants the Ring, the One Ring that he made, the One Ring, that he placed much of his Sorcerers Powers in! For me, the One Ring, goes hand-in-hand, with Sauron's most prominent, Dark Fantasy Creatures - his nine Black Riders. Who are akin to Phantoms, with no physical form, other than Dark Visage in a Cloak. They wield Blades, that are both Cruel and Evil. I shuddered when Frodo was wounded (by such a Blade), at the thought of what he could become - a Wraith of some-kind! I feel that Frodo was right, when he chooses to avoid the Black Riders, even though doing so, meant entering the Old Forest (the lesser of two Evils). I found myself sitting, on the edge of my seat, when Frodo was racing for Rivendell (the Elven home of Elrond), with Black Riders chasing him! Added to this, are Sauron's Black Dragons (although here in this Tale, is it just the briefest of glimpses - with a bow shot from Legolas, downing the Dragon). And yet, are there also, other Dark Fantasy Creatures, at work within Middle-Earth - although I feel, that they have no direct knowledge, of the One Ring itself (and thus, do not directly, answer to Sauron). For example, I liked the Orcs and Goblins of Moria, together with the concept of the Balrog (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon) - who to me, is one of the Oldest of the Old. An Elemental Dragon/Daemon, that lives in the Hottest Fires of the Earth. Yet do I find, that both the Balrog, and the One Ring, have a connection (at least in a saying): Delve Too Deep in Greed, and Pay the Price! The Black Riders delved too deep - what once was King, now Phantom of the Night (and Day!). The Dwarves delved too deep - what once was Moria, was lost to Dark (Durin's Bane - a Balrog!). And of the Wraiths? The Barrow-wights, sent a shiver down my spine! As there's something Unnatural, about former Kings, and Warriors of Old, that feel that they, still have a Hold, on the Living. Wake up Frodo! Fifth: is it's range of Fantasy Swords ... I've always liked the idea of Magical Swords, and the background build-up, to the Sword of Elendil, is no exception: a Sword that was shattered, upon an enemy of Old (Sauron), that is reforged, and renamed Anduril (Flame of the West), the Weapon of Kings (borne by Aragorn) - made me want one :) Added to this, is Gandalf's sword, Glamdring - which I for one, have long desired, to look upon! Yet, do I like the fact that Glamdring (borne by the mighty), is also matched by Frodo's short-sword Sting (borne by the lesser/Little People), as both gleam/glow blue, when in the presence of Orcs - which if you think about it, would be slightly scary, whilst deep in the Mines of Moria! Sixth: is it's range of Fantasy Castles ... For me, there's four that immediately spring to mind: i) Rivendell. The Fantasy Realm of the Elves, with it's Last Homely Gardens, and it's Waterfalls of Sea in Dream, and it's Ford of Guardian Horses (in Force of Water - commanded by Elrond). I liked the idea, of Powerful Elf Lords in Rivendell, that could resist the Darkness, at least for a Time :) ii) Minas Tirith. The City of Men, the City of Kings, that is foremost in the Defence, against Sauron's Armies. I to (like Frodo), found Hope growing in me, at the description of Minas Tirith (within this Tale) - especially at the mention, of it's Towering Battlements :) iii) Minas Morgul. Is perhaps the clearest indication to me, of the One Rings power to Corrupt, as what once was Good, fell into Ruin (owing to the neglectfulness of Men), and became a Fortress of Darkness! I did not like the thought, of both Fear and Dread, to be found there - in the plenty. iv) Lothlorien - not a Castle as such, more a Stronghold in the Trees of the Elves. I liked the idea, that the Elves of Lothlorien, climb upwards, and live in a Kingdom amongst the Treetops :) As to me, a City in the Trees, feels like a strong connection, to the Roots of the Earth, and Nature. Seventh: is the Hobbits themselves ... I found myself, constantly amazed in this Tale, that the Affairs of the Mighty (such as Wizards, Kings and Sorcerers), are at the Mercy, of the Little People: Frodo Baggins, and his trusty companion - Sam Gamgee :) For even with all of Sauron's Might, he can't find a Hobbit! But Gandalf can, yet bows to Frodo - for Frodo is the Ring Bearer :) As chosen by - the One Ring. And what of Merry and Pippin? I find these two Hobbits, to be of less importance (especially in the second half of the Tale), but Gandalf holds them in High Respect. I like this, because the Good Deeds of the Tiny, can unravel the Dark Deeds, of the Mighty :) Overall: An amazing, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novel, that took me longer to read, than I had expected - as I reread several parts (especially the Mines of Moria). I also feel, that there's a deliberate shift, in the concept of the Main Fantasy Character (as you read this Tale). It's always Frodo, but at the beginning, I thought for a while, that it was Gandalf - until he met his match! I especially like the fact, that this Fantasy Tale, is a David verses Goliath, that's played out on a bigger scale - with Powerful Elements, on both sides :) Finally: The One Ring, is a Ring of Power, is a Quest of Power, between Good and Evil - whose Fate is most directly, in the Smallest Hands of the Land, the Underdog: Frodo Baggins :)
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part One
A Classic Fantasy Tale, with a range of Fantasy Characters (including Elves, Dwarves and Men), that sees a Quest of Power, through the Roots of Adventure, in the Darkest Days of Middle-Earth. With a guiding Wizard, and a bare foot Hobbit (one of the Little People), it's The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring:
I've always thought, that this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read :) There's several reasons for this ... First: is it's use of Humour ... I found myself laughing, when Sam (one of the Hobbits), is pulled through the Window (by Gandalf the Wizard), after having eavesdropped, and making out that he hadn't - he was cutting the Lawn you see! I also laughed, when Gimli the Dwarf, tasted some Cram (a Travellers Bread), having not believed, that it will taste very nice (even raising an eyebrow) - then promptly eating, the whole piece! I also found humour, in the strangest of places, such as when Gandalf had nearly been destroyed - well, well, he flew down some stairs, after encountering a foe, that he could not best, whilst joking about it! Second: is it's range of Fantasy Locations ... First and Foremost, my favourite is the Dwarven Mine/City of Moria. I especially liked the Ancestry of Moria, that it was once the most prized, of all the Dwarven Realms (owing to it's Mining of Mithril - the Dwarven Wonder Metal), which was in-turn lost, to the Orcs/Goblins and Durin's Bane (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon, that even the Elves Fear). Moria is now a dark place, which Gandalf leads our Adventurers through, with his Bobbing Wizards Staff of Light (akin to a Will-o'-the-wisp). I especially liked the idea, of Moria's Dwarven Doors, that can only be seen in Moonlight (and opened with a specific word/phrase). I also found comedy here, as I laughed at Gandalf, being outwitted by a door! Of Moria itself, did I like the idea of staircases hewn from stone, together with cavernous pillars (that defined a City in Starlight), together with Tombs of the Fallen (still blessed in daylight), and Treasures of the Deepest Mines (that Dwarves still dream of). I also liked, what I feel was the reason that Moria was built (by the Dwarves) in the first place - a Magical Lake (called the Mirrormere), which Shines with Stars in it's Waters so Deep :) It is with some irony then, that although I love the Green Places of this World, that I have often felt a Desire, to explore the Dark Halls of Moria myself! In stark contrast to Moria, are the Fantasy Woods, of the Old Forest. It's a mythical place, that Tales of Old, used to scare young Hobbits with - and yet, Frodo Baggins (the main Fantasy Character of this Tale), decides to venture that very way :) Now I like Woods, and I like Trees, but the Trees of the Old Forest, are not like other Trees (they can move/walk, and they can talk/be-spell) - it's Old Man Willow you see. He's a Magical Willow Tree, who does not have the Hobbits best interests at heart! Although I find the Old Forest to be a Dark Place (perhaps even more so than Moria), it leads to one of my favourite Fantasy Characters - Tom Bombadil :) He's such a fun/comedy element, that it's hard to feel all Dark and Gloomy, when he's around (especially with that Bobbing Hat of his!). Now it feels to me, as though Tom is some kind of Nature Fairy (as he's always been concerned with Trees) - yet even if he isn't, then his sidekick (Goldberry), is certainly a Water Fairy :) In any case, I like the fact, that both Tom and Goldberry, tend to the Old Forest, and look after Frodo (after Old Man Willow, gets his Roots to him). To me, the Old Forest feels as though, it's full of Magic - both Good and Evil, that's just kind-of mixed together, in it's raw, natural form. It's a powerful place, that I feel, could have played a larger part in the Tale (together with Tom Bombadil). Third: is it's range of Fantasy Characters ... The Fellowship of the Ring, is itself comprised of a Motley Crew: four Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin), two Men (one called Aragorn, one called Boromir), one Elf (called Legolas), one Dwarf (called Gimli), and Gandalf (the Wizard). I like the idea of the Fellowship (aka our Adventurers), because it is a contradiction - you have powerful members (such as Gandalf and Aragorn), mixed with weaker members (such as Merry and Pippin). Whilst in the middle, do you have members that are a bit of both: both in terms of alignment (such as Legolas is to Trees and Nature, whilst Gimli is to Stone and Anvil), and in terms of not judging a book by it's cover (such as Frodo at first appearing weak, but over time, does Frodo become the appointed/recognised strongest, Ring Bearer). Of these Fantasy Characters, would I say that my favourite is Gandalf, though I wouldn't normally like Wizards! Gandalf is an exception, for he's more like a Warlock - a Wizard and a Warrior, all rolled into one :) Next would there be Aragorn - as I like the fact, that he is descendant from Kings (although I'm not so keen, on his Strider personality, in the earlier parts of the Tale). Then would there be Gimli, as there's a fair amount of humour, surrounding his character: A Dwarf! Which plays right into, the grievances between Dwarves and Elves (with several twists in friendship, along the way). In any case, I especially like the portrayal of Elves within this Tale. I like their connection with Nature (especially of the Woods, plus Spells of the Sea), and I like the fact, that there's at least three, families of Elves found, within Middle-Earth: those from Rivendell (who were there at the start, when Darkness first showed it's face), those from Mirkwood (who still have dealings with Men, and is the home of Legolas), and those from Lothlorien (who Guard a Treasure of Middle-Earth, and befriend the Fellowship). I also liked the way, that the Elves are used, to underline an important point/theme (within the Tale): the Elves may be Powerful, blessed to live much longer than Men, skilled in the Art of Combat (especially Bow and Arrow) - yet just like the rest of Middle-Earth, they do not have the power, to throw back the Darkness/Evil by themselves! Or do they?
This Classic Fantasy Tale, sees a Quest for Treasure, in the Lost Kingdoms of the Dwarves, with a Guardian Fire Drake of the North, who goes by the name of Smaug. It's The Hobbit:
Whilst it had been quite some time, since I'd last read The Hobbit, I was amazed with the amount of humour, that's found within it's opening chapters (particularly the very first - An Unexpected Party). I especially found it funny, when the leader of the Dwarves (Thorin Oakenshield), ended up with several of his fellow Dwarves, right on top of him - when The Hobbit (aka Bilbo Baggins), abruptly opened his front door :) I also liked the fact, that Bilbo initially has no idea, as to what is going on - why are all these Dwarves here? But soon finds himself, pouring over a Treasure Map, wondering where the Secret Door is! Which in-turn, leads to Bilbo and the start of his Adventures - having just been recruited by the Dwarves (based upon the recommendation, of Gandalf the Wizard). And it is this recommendation, that I feel captures the Heart and Soul, of this Fantasy Tale ... As The Hobbit does not at first, appear to be the best companion, for Thorin and his Dwarves - let alone their Quest! For one simple reason: The Hobbit / Bilbo Baggins, has only ever read about Adventures in books - preferring instead, to put his feet up, and have his second breakfast :) Indeed, is this low opinion of Bilbo, held by Thorin Oakenshield, and several of his Dwarves - which plays right into, Bilbo's desire to prove them all wrong :) And as such, did I enjoy the irony (that is experienced), as Bilbo's character, becomes central to the Tale - even gaining a Strength of Character, that supersedes the Dwarves (as eventually, he is more of an advisor to them). I found this particularly true, in three specific places: i) When Bilbo rescues the Dwarves - from the Darker Fantasy Spiders (otherwise the Dwarves would have been a juicy meal). ii) When Bilbo rescues the Dwarves - from the Not So Friendly Elves (otherwise the Dwarves would have been captive, in the Dungeons of the Elves for quite sometime). iii) When Bilbo is asked by the Dwarves, to tackle the Dragon Smaug (the Guardian Fire Drake of the North) - as Thorin and his Dwarves, dared not to enter, their own Underground Kingdom ... Yet in all three, do I feel that Bilbo's character, has come a long way - but still remains the same, as that first cheeky Hobbit, who dared to pick the pocket of a Mountain Troll, and land them all in a Stew! What of the Tale's other Fantasy Characters? Well ... There's three, that I quite like ... First: is Beorn (the shape-shifter). I liked the idea of a Man, that could take the form of a Bear - whilst also being able to talk, to an entire variety of animals (from Bees to Horses). I also liked the idea, of Beorn's Gardens and Lands - as he uses his shape-shifting powers, to guard his Domain, against the creatures of Darker Fantasy (such as Goblins and Wargs). I especially enjoyed, the comedy that surrounds the introduction of the Dwarves to Beorn (which is again contrived by Gandalf) - enter two by two, a minute or so after each other, OH! you may as well all come in then! Second: is Smaug (the Fire Drake). Being a Western Dragon, he meets this definition in every sense of his Being - large, powerful, clever (enjoying Riddles), breathing Fire, rows and rows of Teeth, armour as strong as Steel, hoarding Treasure, rending walls and eating all (especially Men and Dwarves). Yet does Smaug, still have a twist of an Eastern Dragon - the ability to speak :) And as such, did I enjoy Bilbo's conversations with him, especially when Bilbo thought, that he could outwit a Dragon! Bilbo dares to steal a Golden Cup - yet Dragons know, every ounce of their Treasure :) For Smaug's personality, is the Darkest of the Dark - it's HIS Mountain, and it's HIS Treasure, that HE stole from the Dwarves, a Long Time Ago. Third: is Thorin Oakenshield. I found that his character, tended to fluctuate somewhat. On the one hand, he will take charge (such as when planning a Quest for Treasure, or meeting a Great Goblin in Battle) - but on the other hand, can Thorin tend to give up in a huff (such as when the Dwarves, are unable to find the Mountain's Secret Door). An interesting character then - as we have to remember, that it was Thorin's Quest in the first place! And of that Quest, does Thorin also wish to retake, his Lost Dwarven Kingdom - of the Mountain. It's a Dwarven Kingdom, where I enjoyed imagining - what it would once have been like, at the height of it's powers: Countless Dwarves - mining Crystals and Gems, Endless Dwarves - Forging Swords and Armour, Robust Dwarves - hewn by the Harshness of the Rocks, Timeless Dwarves - hewn by the Ages of Old, and the Timelessness of Bonds :) And it is these Bonds, that Thorin's most Treasured Treasure (the Arkenstone), is most directly - at conflict with! For the Arkenstone (to me), seems to represent Greed (both Bilbo Baggins, and Thorin's). Thus, was I not too surprised - by the disagreement that arises, between Thorin and Bilbo! Although I was surprised, when Thorin pulls it back, and makes amends with Bilbo, just in the nick of time :) Overall: I feel that The Hobbit, is an enjoyable Fantasy Tale, that successfully incorporates, the important features, from the Sword and Sorcery Fantasy genre. The Swords are the Dwarves, Elves and Men - with the twist of a Hobbit, who could not hope to lift a Sword! But a Knife/Dagger - Bilbo can do that :) The Sorcery is directly from Gandalf, and indirectly from the Dragon's Hoard, and the Dwarves Arkenstone (their Achilles Heel). The Darker Elements, come from the Dragon and the Goblins, together with the Fantasy Character called Gollum (who Bilbo meets beneath the Mountains). Whose Gollum you say? For me, he's a key ingredient, to the popularity of Bilbo - as after Bilbo meets Gollum, does Bilbo's character, seem to tend towards an advisor (for the Dwarves). Thus do I feel, that it seems to be Fate, that Bilbo was destined for Adventure - in the first place :) Finally: an important question arises - is it still worth reading The Hobbit book, after you have watched the three Hobbit Fantasy Films? Yes is the answer to that! The Hobbit book, I found to be much simpler (less extravagant), and as such did it seem - much more magical :) Just one thing remains, where is that Treasure Map? And thank goodness for the Adventurous side - of the Took in Baggins :)
An Urban Fantasy Tale, that's now a Classic, that defined the Pearls of Fantasy, and the Spirits of Adventure - for many a Sunday afternoon :) It's The Goonies:
Whilst the Pirates Fantasy storyline, may take a while to get going - once The Goonies find that Treasure Map, there's no stopping them ... And it is here that this Fantasy Film, connects strongly with the Dreams of my Childhood - as I always thought that it would be fun, to find a Treasure Map! There'd be Parchment Frays - that Guide the Way. There'd be Spanish Prose - that Give a Clue. There'd be Island Shapes - that Rock the Boat. There'd be Skull and Bones - that Mark the Spot! And so it is, with the Fantasy Locations, that are found within - The Goonies ... There's Glowing Lantern Caves - with Falling Rocks and Pit of Spikes. There's Silent Guarding Stones - with Voices Bat and Waters Fall. There's Tranquil Wishing Well - with Pegs of Three and Skeleton Key. There's Caves of Door in Skull - with Glowing Eyes and Slippery Logs. There's Awe and Shock Piano - with Rights of Tune and Screams of Fall. There's Drawbridge cast from Rock - with Water Chutes and Shout Geronimo! But the best Fantasy Location for me, is the Pirates Hidden Cove/Cave, with the Pirate Ship of One Eyed Willie (the Inferno), moored at ease :) I just loved the appearance of the Pirate Ship, which appears somewhat magical, in the majestic jewel-like waters (of it's Fantasy Cave). I also liked the idea, of this Fantasy Cave, being the final refuge/hiding place, of the Mythical Fantasy Pirate - One Eyed Willie :) And of course, it is both the Pirate Ship, and the Fantasy Cave, that form the centrepieces, for the Swashbuckling climatic action: the finding of the Pirate's Treasure, the greeting of One Eyed Willie, the Plundering of the Loot, the Walking of the Plank, the Climbing of the Masts, and the Raising of the Anchor! And of my favourite Fantasy Characters? Well ... First: there is Chunk (a Goonie). I was sold on that scene, where he first enters Mikey and Brand's parents house (two fellow Goonies) - as its just the way he stands there, telling a tale (after the Truffle Shuffle!). Chunk's character, primarily revolves around the thought of food, and is intermixed with his ability to break things (such as smashing down doors, and dropping Treasure Maps). Which in-turn, leads to two of my favourite comedy scenes (of all time): i) where Chunk tells the Tale, of the Fake Puke :) And ii) Where Chunk becomes - Captain Chunk! I almost fell of the sofa with that one - especially with his Cutlass, and Pirate's Hat :) Second: there is Data (a fellow Goonie), who adds to the comedy of the film, with his range of Crazy Inventions. It is Data that falls into the Pit of Spikes - only to be saved by his Pinchers of Power. It is Data that covers the Boat Mast Bridge, with an oily substance (secreted from his Slick Shoes/trainers), that leads to an hilarious scene, with the villains of this film. And it is Data, that falls through the roof/hatch of the Pirate Ship, and goes into a whole ranting rave! Watching that rant with subtitles (turned on), really made me laugh :) Third: is the Fantasy Pirate, One Eyed Willie himself. Granted, he may only appear for a short time within the film (as he is a Skeleton) - but his character is built from the outset, as a Pirate that ... Stole a Pirate's Loot - with little hope of running a Navy Blockade. Who is instead forced to hide his ship (the Inferno) in a Pirate's Cave - whilst devising an entire series of Booby Traps (to protect his Treasure). He is also a Pirate, that has an Eye Patch to match - who sits Pride of Place, at the Captain's Table :) I also liked the twist, that surrounds Willie's Gold - as there's one more Booby Trap, that's only to be triggered, by those who are too Greedy! Would that be you then? Who took those Golden Coins? In any case, I found something of a parallel, between The Goonies, and One Eyed Willie's Pirates Crew - as both seemed to me, to be of Motley Crews :) Overall: I love the fact that this film, takes the Fantasy Tales of a Pirate, and merges it with the Childhood Friends, that we all once had ... There's something of the Pirate: Treasure, Treasure Chests, and Pirates and their Pirate Ships. Mixed with something of our Childhood: when we'd all just hop onto a bike, and head off of out for an Adventure :) There's something of Romance: a Childhood Kiss, a First Real Love - of Pirates and their Pirate's Lore! As we all wanted to be a Pirate - didn't we? And there's something that I just learnt - as it's only recently (watching this film), that I have at last, finally realised/understood, exactly where Mikey's bag of Gems and Jewels comes from (towards the end of the film). For some reason (over the years), I'd managed to miss Mikey with that line: bye bye marbles (at One Eyed Willies Captain's Table). It's Captain Chunk you know!
It's been quite some time since I last walked the Lands of Lore and the Thrones of Chaos. Yet, all of that changed this week (with the help of DOSBox 0.72 and a hunt for my old 3.5 inch floppy discs!). I donned the boots of Conrad, and headed off for a trip down memory lane - to assist King Richard:
To be honest, I had expected the game to seem somewhat dated. The graphics are not in the same league as today's games, the 3d world is essentially tile based (where you move around using cursor keys), and ... You know what, I just don't give a dam! The storyline is amazing!! I found myself thinking about Quests and Adventures that seem as real now, as they did back then. Within the Draracle Caves, I was soon asking myself a question: what was the gift that the Draracle wanted? With some head scratching, I knew it when I saw it - a golden knife with red jewels in it. Then did the Draracle give me some riddles for an Elixir - that will save King Richard (albeit much later in the game). Still, I'm getting ahead of myself ... I love the fact that everything seems to fall into place in this game. When your Quest starts, you receive a Magic Atlas (which you need - as it's easy to get lost within the mazes of each location/level). Then do you receive a Compass (which you use with your Magic Atlas). Then do your receive a Spell Book (which holds your various magical spells - such as Spark, Heal, Freeze, Fireball and Lightening). Then do you receive a Lantern (when you first visit the Caves - which with enough Oil, helps Lighten the Dark). Your an adventurer (either Ak'Shel, Kieran, Micheal or Conrad) who has companions along the way (such as Timothy, Baccata and Lora). Prepare to have both your combat and magical skills tested - whilst at the same time, having a really good work out for your memory! It's easy to forget where you are in the mazes of these Lands ... Now, even though this game is (at least) two decades old - it does one thing that many modern games don't seem to do: it has the ability to make you laugh! For me, this always occurs in two places: the pits you find in various Mines and the sink holes (in the Gorkha Swamp). In both cases, it always goes something like this for me: fwd, fwd, left, left, fwd, fwd, left, AUGH! I've fallen down a hole! AUGH! Laugh, Laugh, Laugh. Then just for fun, I do it again! (Not quite so funny now!). Laugh, Laugh. As I say, this game's storyline pulls you in - especially when you feel like you've achieved something. It's great fun when you fix the Water Pump within the Urbish Mines (so that's what the lumps of coal and the gear/cog are for!). Although, the Urbish Mines themselves is a place that I've always found testing (both the getting lost, and those Avian Worms!). There's plenty of other challenges to - such as Scotia's Barrier(s)! These caused me nothing but grief a few years back, but this time - I remembered Vaelan's Cube! This game has more monsters/mythical creatures than you can shake a stick at. Some of my favourites are: Bandits, Cave Dwellers, Gimlets, Gorkha, Giant Lizards, Orcs and Great Orcs - as once you have some decent weapons (such as Great Swords and Great Axes), then these tend to die fairly easily in hand-to-hand combat. Some of my least favourite monsters/mythical creatures are: the Larkhon (a big worm - throw your sword at it), Magic Mirrors (walking jelly fish - they don't like Lightening), Rocklings (made of rock - dam, you blunted my sword!) and Wraiths (run, no really - run!). Overall: this is an amazing adventure/role playing game whose storyline seems to have stood the test of time. I'm amazed that it's challenges seem just as hard now, as they did back in the day (when I first got those 3.5 inch floppy discs home!). This may not be a game that you want to play full-screen now, but it can certainly play/run perfectly well in a window on your desktop (even perhaps whilst your doing other things!). One question I found myself asking was: where am I? I seem to be lost in these Urbish Mines! Let alone being lost in the White Tower ... Finally: it's been sometime since I've seen Scotia, but I do remember Dawn - was that a Cuckoo? Tip: for DOSBox 0.72, I used mount c c: (slash) OLDGAMES (slash) westwood (slash) lands, c:, lands. If you don't fancy that, then there's a newer version (see relevant link below).
When it comes to a Role Playing Game (RPG) that allows me to masquerade as a Vampire, I'd be hard-pressed to name one better than this:
I like the fact that this game starts with a twist - as it's a while before you become a Vampire! The games storyline sees you take control of the character Christof, a Medieval Holy Knight, whose been injured on the battlefield (by an enemy arrow). Almost mortally wounded, it's only with the caring of the Nun Anezka, that Christof eventually recovers. Yet in doing so, Christof falls for Anezka, and the games storyline gains an important sub-plot: a wound for which there is often no cure - the Power of Love! I like the fact that this game strives to contrast the differences between Christof as a Human, and Christof as a Vampire, yet at the same time - it also fights to highlight the similarities! Whilst Christof is still Human, you undertake a Quest within the Bonn Silver Mines - to rid them of whatever Evil lies within. It is hear that you learn the basics of control: left-click to attack an enemy, left-click plus hold to powerfully attack an enemy. It is here that I first appreciated the quality of the graphics: as various flames/torches light your way, whilst leaving the shadows to themselves. It is also here that you shall encounter your first challenges: Just how do I drain the water from the Crossing? Just how do I kill the War Ghoul? And just how do I kill the first Vampire Boss? The answer to all three is essentially the same: left-click, left-click, left-click! Yet, as Christof is a character of strong Faith, perhaps some Holy Water shall save the day? The games storyline then gains another important sub-plot: as Christof fights to retain his Soul. His Desire for Anezka places it in Peril, yet it is the attentions of a Vampire that truly tests his Character ... I was excited when Christof becomes a Vampire - as this is when the game comes truly alive! I'm also a fan of the Vampire Mythology that's found within this game. First: there is the fact that there are several races of Vampire (such as Cappadocian, Gangrel and Nosferatu - each with their own particular traits, skills and appearance). Second: there is the idea that Vampires have their own beliefs and traditions (Christof is recruited by the Philosophers of Caine - the Brujah, whose primary aim is the collection of Knowledge). Third: there is the concept of Vampire Lore (that the Brujah only take from Humans the Blood that they actually need - not a drop more). Fourth: there is the suggestion that not all Vampires are the same (that the Brujah actually see themselves as Guardians of Humanity, and as such, are less interested in the Blood Lust that's often associated with Creatures of the Night). I was impressed by the games use of animation and narration to highlight several of these ideas (especially the part where Christof views the Scrolling Tapestry). Playing as a Vampire is much more exciting than playing as a Human! There's plenty to learn (as a Vampire) - and you shall earn your Fangs (so to speak) at Petrin Hill Monastery. Lesson One: Looks can be Deceptive - as the Monastery looks all Quite and Peaceful, yet open that Wooden Door, and you shall soon have plenty of opponents to fight - as there's Vampires and Skeletons (usually armed with Swords and Arrows). Lesson Two: Vampires require Blood. When Christof (and his friend Wilhelm) become low on Blood, they shall start to Rampage (possibly even feeding off each other). To counteract this - you need to learn the Art of Feeding! There's plenty of Monks around the Monastery for you to feed on (and slaying an enemy this way does not affect your Humanity levels - which comes in handy). Lesson Three: Sometimes the ability to fight is not enough - you have to use your brain as well, together with switches and keys. Many an Evening did I fight Mercuio (the Vampire Boss of the Monastery), and many an Evening did both Christof and Wilhelm die (to his Green Gas). Yet it was, when searching around, did I find my first special weapon: a Femur (bone) that introduces Mercuio to the Grave! The games more than just about fighting though. One part I really like is managing the equipment that my Vampires wear. Once you've found enough Gold/Jewellery/Jewels, I like to equip my Vampires (via the Blacksmith) with: Studded Leather Armour, Gauntlets and a Light Helm - which helps improve their combat/defence capabilities. Another part I really like is the Character Advancement screen: with each Quest you complete, you earn Experience Points, which you spend to make your Vampires stronger. When I have enough points, I like to increase (in this order): Strength, Dexterity and Stamina (as I feel that these help to establish the central core of my Vampires abilities). When it comes to Spells and Magic, it's a must to upgrade Blood Healing (as it quickly heals your Vampires, usually for less blood), and in the case of Wilhelm, his Feral Claws (a favourite of mine - as he's often at the fore-front of an assault). I also like to equip each of my characters with: two Scrolls of Awaken (so that they may wake fallen comrades) and a Scroll of Walk the Abyss (so that a doorway can be opened between the current Quest and your safe haven - a great way to save travel time, which also allows you stock up on valuable supplies!). Overall: I have spent many an evening playing this game! I found that I became fully immersed in the storyline (especially with the twists regarding Faith, Love and Souls). Yes, there are some frustrations (such as when you accidentally tell Christof to feed off Wilhelm), but there's also a great amount of fun (such as when you destroy the rampaging Golem). I was stunned by the beauty of many scenes (especially those that reflect a decorated ceiling of a Castle/Palace unto the floor). The most draw-dropping part of the storyline (for me), was when the Time-line changed (as I wanted to remain in the Medieval), and felt totally lost (at first) running around in the Modern Age. Even so, this is still my favourite Vampire game to play!