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Dragonsphere is an adventure game made by MicroProse in 1994. Watch the intro to learn about the evil Sorceror Sanwe arriving in the land of Callahach. The King took his son Callash (you), and his Royal Wizard Ner-Tom on a quest to imprison Sanwe within a forcefield. However, Sanwe is a powerful sorcerer, and the forcefield will not hold him forever. So Ner-Tom created the Dragonsphere - a globe that represents Sanwe's status. As long as the Dragonsphere is intact, then the kingdom is safe.
But that was 20 years ago. Now you (Callosh) have grown up, and you have been crowned King. The Dragonsphere is cracking, and Sanwe is breaking free from his prison. He is seeking revenge for his imprisonment, and only you can stop him. The fate of the kingdom lies in your hands now - you MUST defeat Sanwe before it is too late. Explore all the lands in your kingdom in order to reach Sanwe's tower, and then stop him before before he regains full power. Can you destroy the evil Sanwe once and for all, or is your kingdom doomed forever?
There is an interesting plot twist in this game, which I did not expect. I won't tell you what happens - I'll let you find that out for yourself. But I will say that defeating Sanwe is only half the battle.
This game uses a nice point and click system, which makes it easy to play. At the bottom-left of the screen, there is a list of verbs - Look, Open, Give, Talk To, etc. You can use these verbs to interact with your environment. Next, is a list of your inventory items. You can scroll up and down this list by clicking on the up and down arrows. If you click on one of your inventory items, you will see a small picture of that item in the next box. In the final box, you will see any extra actions that can be done with the currently selected inventory item. For example, click on 'Shieldstone' from you inventory list to see a picture of it. The word 'Polish' will appear in the last box. Simply click on that word to polish your Shieldstone.
Click on 'Talk To', and then a character, to start a conversation. A list of dialogue options are shown at the bottom of the screen, and you can choose what to say. I liked the fact that characters are shown in a 'pop up' box as they talk.
Pressing 'F1' will bring up a menu to allow you to save your game, restore a game, check your score, or quit the game. Pressing 'F5' will bring up another menu that gives you some game play options. You can turn music and sound on or off, adjust the smoothness of panning, and a few other things.
The only niggle I have is the Desert Sands game. In the desert, you have to play Desert Sands with the Caliph several times, and I found that very frustrating. It is more of a 'Guess Which Colour Will Come Next' game. The colours appear randomly, and there was no logic to it.
At the High Tower, you must answer 3 questions correctly before entering
the Tower. If you get the questions wrong, then you die. I found no clue
about these questions anywhere in the game, so I am guessing it is
some kind of copy protection.
To save your sanity, here are the questions:
Q1: What colour are the Sorcerer's eyes?
Q2: Where does the Sorcerer carry a scar?
A: His leg.
Q3: What human food does the Sorcerer prize above all others?
A: Beef stew.
The graphics are very rich and detailed, which really brings the whole game to life. Everything from the grandness of the Castle, to the stark desert, to wonderous Brynn-Fann. Each land has its own unique identity, and it is a joy to explore them all.
The characters themselves are very well animated. All their movements are nice and smooth, and it makes them seem very lifelike. The whole atmosphere draws you into the game. As I said before, I especially like how characters are shown in a 'pop up' box as they talk, and the conversation is shown as text, next to them.
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
The music is quite dramatic. It really suits the mood of the game, without distracting you. There are a few sound effects, such as the wind in the desert, the sound of pages turning as you read a book, the toads croaking in Brynn-Fann, and a few more.
There are so many wierd and wonderful characters in this game. The Soptus Ecliptus are a very unique race, and they were my favourite. The Shak bird-men are half men-half bird, and they are interesting to talk to. Of course, we can't forget about the Sorcerer Sanwe. There are many other characters that you will enjoy meeting as well.
There are 2 modes of play for this game - Novice or Challenging. There are not many differences between the modes, but the Desert Sands game seemed to be a lot harder to win in Challenge Mode. The puzzles are quite tricky at times, but a lot of fun to work out. You cannot really die in this game. If you fail at a puzzle, you are given another chance to complete it.
This is a lovely adventure game that I really enjoyed playing. The story is well written, and the music is just right for the game. The point and click system makes it very easy to play, and the graphics are incredibly smooth. Puzzles are challenging, and you get a good feeling of satisfaction when you have solved a tricky situation. I can highly recommend this game.
You will need to set the sound for this game by using INSTALL.EXE. You will see a screen with 4 options. You cannot install the game to your hard disk, so choose RECONFIGURE HARDWARE OPTIONS. The next screen you see is for MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS - I found that SOUNDBLASTER (Original) works best. The next screen is for DIGITISED SPEECH. Since there is no speech in this game, it makes no difference what you pick here. Finally, we reach the GAME PLAY OPTIONS. Select whichever options you prefer here. Since there is no speech, you need to make sure that TEXT BOXES DURING DMA SPEECH are visible. Now, EXIT TO DOS.
Use Dragon.Bat to start the game, and then crank the cycles up to 10000.