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I mean no offense to my neighbors across the pond, but I am slowly coming to the conclusion that British game shows are an organized form of public sadism. The Weakest Link, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Big Brother, and more are all designed to psychologically tear down contestants. They get the most artfully vicious hosts they can find and design tasks that are either near impossible or pit teammates against each other in subtly immoral ways. Not that it’s better here in America with our Fear Factors and emotionally abusive Simon Cowells (although, we imported him from the UK too). But for the most part his is a new phenomenon in America where as in the UK this has been going on for years. Case in point, back in 1990 a game was conceived that proved incredibly popular during its 6 season run. It was called The Crystal Maze, and now you can have all the torment of the TV game show on your home computer.
I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy playing the home game. The worst part was I really enjoyed its eclectic series of challenges. Despite feeling abused by the computer I was determined to make inroads to defeating winning the game. Since I couldn’t find an FAQ for this game anywhere I feel compelled to write a more extensive review than normally appears here. My goal, naturally, is to help others who follow. If you play the game, please use the forums and share what you learn and together we will crack The Crystal Maze!
The point of the game is to collect time crystals. Each time crystal buys you 5 seconds in the Crystal dome at the end of the game for each of your remaining team mates to try to catch as many gold tickets as they can, and avoiding silver ones. If you score a total of over 100 (gold minus silver) you win!
There are 4 zones you will need to visit to collect time crystals before going to the crystal dome; Aztec, Futuristic, Medieval, and Ocean. Each is a theme that will change the games you play. Also, there are 4 game types; Physical, Skill, Mental, and Mystery. Choosing the right player to do the right type of game will make the game easier or harder. Each player has at least one strength and I think I’ve found the strengths of all the characters. Each player also, apparently, has a weakness, although I’ve made no attempt to document those. Choose at least one of each kind before starting to improve your chances. Since the players don’t have proper names, just fill refer to them by where they are on the grid:
Not knowing how the game distributes strengths, it’s possible I miss categorized someone. But the Skill category is the most important. Use someone who listed as Skill above on some of the games left and right will be swapped, making it much more frustrating that normal.
Then, when have chosen your team, click on the second button in on the lower right to start playing. This button is usually what you use to advance the game. From here on in I’ll just call this the ‘Ok’ button, even though it never really says that. Choose a zone to start. Then click on that ‘Ok’ button and choose which player and which game you want to play. Press the ‘Ok’ button to advance again and play the game. If you see the dice in the lower right-most button the computer will randomly make a choice for you if you press it but you will still be given a chance to change the computers choices before clicking ‘Ok’.
When playing games keep your eye and ear on the clock. When you see and hear that time is nearly out be ready to escape the game by pressing the control and escape key at the same time. (I found in DOSBox under XP pressing control then escape causes XP to catch it and open the start button, but if you pressed escape then control the game catches it and you escape.)
Here is the complete list of games in each zone:
Since every character not locked in gets a chance to get you gold tickets, every locked in character is 5 seconds times the number of crystals you have less time to hunt gold tickets. With that in mind you can buy people out of lock out. Any time before you get to the crystal dome, while looking at the crystals you’ve won or by clicking the information button (a crystal with a red ‘i’ on it), pressing the down arrow, and clicking the padlock next to your locked in character. As a rule, you have more crystals than people a buy out will gain you time.
With the information provided above, and some practice, you should have a fair chance at beating the game.
The last thing I want to mention is the settings menu. You get to it by clicking on the button in the lower right with the TV on it. You will then be given a submenu with options that will affect, from top to bottom, audio, input, game play, and a button to save your settings. I highly suggest setting your input options so that you know what your keys are defined as. The default (/,ZA and Space) is a bit odd.
Go back to the options menu and click on the game play button (the one that looks like a time crystal) and you will presented three buttons and a slider. Click the first button on the left if want to play in practice mode. You can replay games without fear of getting trapped which is a fantastic way to get good at them. Unfortunately practice games don’t really count because you can’t enter the crystal maze in the center. The second and third buttons affect the order that you automatically visit the four zones, clockwise or counter-clockwise. The slider affects difficulty. The more to the left it is the easier the game will be. The more the slider is to the right the more it plays like the real thing. 32 is the default.
Some of the things said here are echoed in the manual.txt file included in the game. But this review should provide you with more information that will give the starting player the edge