Swords & Serpents
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  • Imagic
  • Imagic
  • Action - Maze / Ladder (example - Pac Man)
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9  |  Running The Gauntlet
Darryl B. , 7/27/2005 12:22:49 AM
This was a very ambitious game from Imagic, which could only be made on the Intellivision, as there would be no way (at the time) it could have been done on the Atari 2600 (where the first of the Imagic games came out for). Granted, bankswitching was around, but it was still the early days for it back when this game was released, so the Intellivision and home computers was the only way to go (too bad Swords and Serpents didn't make it to the latter, though, as well as the Colecovision...but then, Imagic probably wouldn't have done much to it anyway).

You and/or another player had to make it through several huge (at the time) mazes in order to try to get to the final maze and defeat a dragon. It's usually best to have another player around, due to thwarting bad guys (more on them later) and advising on which way is best to go next ("DON'T read that scroll!!"...too late [again, more on these as well later]).

In this overhead-viewed game, you are a knight with a trusty sword, the better to kill enemy knights with...or are you partially a knight? After all, it looks like you just have a head, arms, and a sword (well, at least I hope that's a sword). Yes, the graphics are kind of mixed, as there's no details to the knights (which a second player's character is a wizard, but he looks exactly the same as yours), although there's no flicker with them, but pretty much everything else looks fine, and I heard the dragon at the end looked especially good, but I never saw it myself.

Each maze has a key to unlock the door at the end, there can be some scrolls scattered here and there, treasures, and enemy knights also attack; making a decent swipe of your sword takes care of the latter, sending the knights to Lava Troll Hell (from the game Joust). Scrolls can give you fireball spells (in lieu of using your sword) or contain the dreaded words of "ye read, ye move", taking you to another place in the maze; great. (Too bad there isn't something like this in real life nowadays, though, in case you get trapped somewhere with someone with a "holier than thou" attitude that's handing out religious pamphlets, or a used car salesman.)

S & S has a decent atmosphere as you make your way deeper into the mazes, as music nowadays would ruin the mood, pretty much. There's not a lot of sound here, aside from the clinking of swords when you engage in battle or when you lose a life to when you don't make it past a moving wall in time that kills your character. Yes, the infamously crappy Intellivision controllers take a toll on this game, as usual, but at least you (usually) won't get bombarded by enemy warriors, so there aren't a lot of situations where you have to make a lot of split-second decisions, end up facing the wrong way, and either teaching or learning some new cursewords from your other player buddy as you buy that big armored suit in the sky.

At least the first maze is mapped out in the instruction book, but as far as the others go, you're pretty much on your own...either map 'em out yourself, or if you go through them a few times, you should become familiar with them. Just remember where that "Fool's Folly" scroll is, since it warps you to another part of the maze...trapped inside a box. To the best of my knowledge, you can NEVER get out; all you do is battle the enemy until your death(s). Ugh...pretty mean there, Imagic!

A pretty excellent game, and it seems to me Atari swiped it's play elements and came out with the even better Gauntlet games. So you get three decent games out of this one, especially since Gauntlet has far more enemies and action...and way better controls :P

My only question is, where's the serpents? Do they mean the big one at the very end? Or maybe they were running out of ideas as what to name this, what with having two words starting with the same letter in a catchy game name, since Dungeons and Dragons and Mazes and Monsters (made for tv movie starring Tom Hanks) were already taken. 9/10

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