ROBIN OF SHERWOOD: THE TOUCHSTONES OF RHIANNON

(Adventure Soft UK)

Written: 1985 by Mike Woodroffe, Brian Howarth

Genre: Fantasy

Runs on: C64, Spectrum Amstrad (grahics), BBC/Electron, C16 (text only)

Review by: Jacob Gunness (C64 Version)

To my knowledge, only two major adventure games have been released that were based on the legends of Robin Hood. Pretty strange, given the massive potential. One is Sierras PC-game, the other is Mike Woodroofe's and Brian Howarth's 1985 offering.

The game is based on the British TV-series featuring a rather youthful Michael Praed as the hooded caper. The series was filled with black magic, supernatural elements and was quite dark in tone - definitely a far cry from the squeaky clean Errol Flynn movie some of you will have seen.

 

You begin in a castle dungeon and must make your escape before the actual game begins. The means of escape are a bit obscure, which the authors must have realised as they chose to supply the original game with a step-by-step solution for getting out! After leaving the castle, you meet Herne the Hunter (some sort of forest god) who presents you with your real mission: to reclaim the 6 touchstones of Rhiannon. Herne doesn't bother to tell you why or how, so you're off to do your best. The game features many of the hallmarks of the Robin Hood legend - the archery tournament, battling Little John, rescuing Maid Marian and so on. But many things have been twisted: Little John must be freed from a spell that has bewitched him, Marian is abducted by a devil worshipper etc. - nice variations on the original themes.

 The split screen layout follows Adventure Intl. UK's standard, as seen in Gremlins and Seas of Blood. A graphics window at the top with the (very brief) location description underneath, and the player then inputs his commands in a separate section at the bottom. So far, everything sounds just peachy. And for a long while, RoS was indeed one of the more popular titles for the 8-bit machines and flourished heavily on the copy market, thus being played by lots of people and generating lots of questions for the poor adventure columnists. Woodroffe et.al. had a certain knack for buying high-profile movie/tv/book licenses and turning them into popular, though maybe not quite awe-inspiring games. This certainly goes for Gremlins, SoB and Masters of the Universe.

The game is actually quite short, and there's not a great deal to do, but the 90+ locations and the incredibly repetitive graphics are desperately trying to persuade you otherwise. Really, I know that Sherwood Forest is large, but there's no reason for placing so many empty locations in a game, other than wasting the player's time!

The parser is your average, mid-80's one, meaning only verb/noun input and no use of "it". EXAMINE is rarely useful, and although the game understands TALK, it's only utilised on a couple of occasions. Thus, while being locked up in the dungeon, I tried to discuss an escape plan with my fellow prisoners, Much and Will Scarlett, only to be told to "Save your breath. There's nothing worth talking about". I should think so!!

The puzzles are quite simple and, with the exception of the beginning and getting Marion to locate a secret cave for you, not too illogical. So the game should appeal to beginners, whereas more exp So the game should appeal to beginners, whereas more exp So the game should appeal to beginners, whereas more experienced players might find it a bit trivial.

Vocab/parser 3

Vocab/parser 4

The parser is adequate, no more. And the vocabulary gets you by without too much hassle

Story 5

Adds some original elements to the legend. The puzzles are too simple, though.

Atmosphere 5

Text is much too brief.

Graphics 6

Fast and quite neat, though way too repetitive.

Overall 5

Small and easy game - worth a try but don't expect too much.