William Tell


Title		William Tell
Game Type	RPG
Players		1
Company		Electronic Zoo
Compatibility	OCS based
Submission	kK

Review
Author's note: This was one of the earliest games I played on my Amiga
and, unfortunatly, one which I no longer own - as a result a lot of this
game that I write about has a very dreamy quality in my mind, and I can't
say for sure if it's true or imagined ;( but onward..

William Tell is one of the classic medieval tales, the story of a Swiss
hero and his fight against tyranny. For those of you unfamiliar with the
legend, he was a peasant from Burglen in the canton of Uri in the 13th and
early 14th centuries who defied Austrian authority, was forced to shoot an
apple from his son's head, was arrested for threatening the governor's
life, saved the same governor's life en route to prison, escaped, and
ultimately killed the governor in an ambush (can't say we don't try an
teach 'em something here at AGDB). The game, a (pre?) 1990's title from
Electronic Zoo (possibly their last as I seem to recall finding in the
game box a sort of plea for cheap-talent and reading shortly after that
they were no longer in business) did a very nice job of including much of
this great story in the gameplay.

To describe the game itself, it was a series of non-scrolling-sideview
screens laid out almost like a grid - besides being able to walk just left
and right between screens you could also walk backwards and forwards. The
game also made use of that popular Nintendoish convention where if you
re-enter a screen the NPC's always appear where you last left them - as if
time froze a mere few feet away so long as you weren't looking (or that
"if a tree fell in a forest and no one was around to hear it..."). There
was, as part of the playing area, mostly forest with scattered houses (a
village) and the castle. Not a lot of ground to cover as I remember, but
it certainly was difficult enough to provide some decent playing time (I
can't even say for sure anymore if I ever did complete it). It was
rewarding too however - mostly in the vast array of medieval weaponry
available and its application. The game sported a comprehensive RPGish
interface on the lower third of the screen - in the style of Obitus;
another similar style game that (I'm pretty sure) it preceded - with a
large portion of it dedicated to munitions control (accessible via the
space bar if I remember correctly in that "passive mode/fight mode" style
of a lot of games), and as I said, there was a lot of  munitions
available. Certainly swords, axes, staves, maces and morningstars come to
mind - and each weapon had available to it certain moves that were
indicated on the interface (and executed by holding down the fire button
and moving the joystick in one of the eight compass directions) with the
various moves and weapons being advantageous or not depending on the
situation. And then there were the crossbows. I believe there were three
different crossbows with three different sights. The selection was
strictly a quality one - and as the crossbow was certainly the most lethal
weapon in the game - it helped balance the gameplay in the earlier parts
where the enemies were mostly belligerent townsfolk and hungry animals.
Something should be said about the way crossbows were handled; when you
engaged a potential target with the crossbow (aka "fight mode on") the
screen switched to a shaky first person view. This was a very nice effect,
capturing all the elements on the screen (background, foreground and
whatever NPC's) and layering them face-on and scaled in accordance with
how far they were from you. Not to shabby for the ol' A500. However aiming
- especially with the earlier crossbows and sights - was easier said then
done, more so when whatever it was you were aiming at was coming towards
you fast (remember that jousting bit in Defender of the Crown??). I'm
pretty sure too that you could shoot just about anything, friend or foe,
(sometimes to your great disadvantage) but thats always a plus in any
game. Basically you started in the forest and worked your way into the
castle, completing smaller quests and solving puzzles along the way -
whatever it takes to get there. Once in the castle it gets quite a bit
harder. Of note there were these Jesters that came at you fast (doing a
bit of gymnastics actually, making them a real trick to hit with the 'bow)
and they hit you hard. I seem to remember getting killed by them (him??
there may have only been one) a lot and like I said, I'm not sure if I ever
made it to the end. What I do remember however, was that if you were ever
beaten by the knights and captured inside the castle, you would be forced
to shoot the apple off your son's head for your life. Succeed and you are
released back outside the castle. Fail and.. well it was quite a nifty
graphic actually.

Now the review (what, you're still here??). The graphics of this game
weren't at all bad for the A500. They just appeared not to use as many
colors, and certainly lacked the polish of the Psygnosis games of the same
time. Not really bloody (for a medieval game) but not entirely tame either
(the apple probably had it easier than your son). If 5 is average I'd say
a 6. As to the sound, I can't say there is one distinct thing I remember
about it. I am pretty sure however, that it didn't push the Amiga's sound
hardware to its limits, but nothing sticks out as being particularly bad -
just about the definition of a 5. Now the gameplay is really what made
this game. If you don't mind that fighting-while-standing-in-one-place
approach to combat, it's that easy. The only thing being not that easy was
switching between the different weapons - especially once a confrontation
had already been engaged - but I suppose that's quite like real life so no
complaints here. The gameplay is varied, probably a lot more than just a
whole bunch of different weapons, which appears to be all I can remember
here, and I got quite a bit of fun out of this game. A very respectable
8.5.

In closing, I remember picking up WT for about 5 or 10$ from Software
Hut's cheapo software selection and getting far more entertainment from it
than many other games that cost me several times that much. It was almost
never frustrating and frequently rewarding; to my recollection Electronic
Zoo's best work and certainly worthy of having a go at.

Graphics:  6
Sound:  5
Gameplay:  8.5

Overall:  6.5





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