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Solstice

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Released: 1989

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: NES/Famicom

Publisher: CSG Imagesoft

Developer: Software Creations

Submitted by: Phillip Burton

Solstice is an isometric puzzler that is graphically very pleasing on the eye but as punishing and unrelenting to play as Mega Man, Contra and Ghosts 'n Goblins combined. The music is first class – which is it's only redeeming feature.

Premise of the game

Playing the role of a wizard, your quest is to save a princess from an evil sorcerer. To accomplish this you must search through a maze of rooms looking for the pieces of a staff that will defeat the sorcerer.

My opinion

I can honestly say I never completed the game or even reached any of the staff pieces. The furthest I actually got was collecting the special boots that allowed you to jump higher and actually get somewhere! Obviously the game was meant to challenge you with mini-puzzles in each room but in reality it was challenging just to jump in a straight line – thanks to the isometric viewpoint. It was near impossible to determine where objects were actually placed in relation to your character, mainly due to the lack of shadows, and everything that was harmful killed you instantly on the first touch. With no save feature, unless you find the very sparse magic coins, the game is relentless.

The room challenges are unfortunately nothing more than finding hidden blocks and pushing other blocks around in order to get across rooms safetly. The potion system is also a little confusing as none of the bottles are labelled (I wish I had the manual to hand) and so you initially must find out what each does by taking them and seeing what happens to you or your surroundings.

Final word

With an inability to harm your foes (unless you drink the potion that makes them disappear) you really are a sorry excuse for a wizard. You seem to get around by dodging foes and use them as platforms by pushing blocks onto their heads. Jumping and taking potions are your only actions which does make for a very limiting experience. When playing this game, be sure to enter the cheat codes to get anything out of it! I'd give it 2 out of 5 with the music and colourful presentation making up both of those points.