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Dragonia

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Released: 1988

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: ASTROS

Developer: C. Pearson, S. Logue

Submitted by: Stephen Westwood

Remember the days before the internet?  Before Ebay, Paypal and ordering everything online?  To be honest I don't know how I survived!  I ordered this game with a cheque written by my mum, having seen the advert in Sinclair User magazine.  It was released by a small independant software house that I'd never heard of… I'd not seen a review… but the screenshots really caught my attention.  A massive centaur, colourful, beautiful scenerey… amazing!  PLUS it was 128k only which made me feel superior as I had an original 128k Speccy.

There was something about the scene at the time, the fact that there were so many games out there, some of which were quite obscure, that gave finds like this a kind of mythology.  An 'I'm the only one in the world playing this' feel…. or was that just me?!  And for a fantasy adventure/ loosely RPG game like this that feel was really enhanced.

You control your black sprite (which looks a bit weird) walking slowly through a wonderful flip screen world with pleasant music playing all the time looking for things to do.  Pressing 'fire' activates the menu at the bottom of the screen.  Very easy to navigate.  You can pick things up, look at them, use them etc.  Most imporatntly you find scrolls with letters on… find a special place and you can use those letters to write spells.  I found that bit too hard so wrote off for a hint sheet with the spells on, that was invaluable, and not really cheating!

To stop you there are the odd zombie and wraith that walk set paths.  You can listen out for their footsteps and it can get genuinely scary.  when they arrive on screen the music dramaticaly and darkly changes and you need to get outa there!  There are also massive mythical beasts that stand in your way.  They don't hurt you but block your path until you make and conjure the correct spell. Dying was very annoying as that was it- the end- back to the beginning- but you could tape save your progress.  Nowadays you can easily 'save state' !   Plus… use the spell 'Go away' and the baddie turns heel and walks the other way.

I don't know how well this game did but it really did deserve attention.  I spent many many hours on it, drawing maps and searching for new places. It seemed to be massive and had a great feel to it.  Never did complete it though… think I suddenly got old!