Friday, 19 October 2012

Curse of Enchantia (MS-DOS)

Curse of Enchantia Amiga Title Screen
Today on Super Adventures, I'm taking a quick look at Curse curse of Enchantia, a point and click adventure game by Tomb Raider developers Core Design. Yeah I know I just played Beyond Shadowgate and Lure of the Temptress, but you know how it is: you spend forever waiting for an adventure game, then three show up at once.

Our story begins, as they occasionally do, with a witch (maybe even an enchantress) watching a cauldron bubble. What she's doing here is never explained, at least not in game, but she doesn't look happy about it.

Nope, she ain't happy at all.

Good artwork though. These pictures have been scanned from paintings by an artist called Rolf Moir, and the guy's got some serious skill. Bit of a shame though that the art had to be reduced to 320 x 200 res and so few colours.

Hit by witch magic while playing baseball, this poor kid is teleported mid-swing into another dimension.

Well okay maybe this piece of art doesn't look so impressive, but the rest of it's been great so far. The music's not bad either.

Oh no... come on! Another adventure game that starts with the hero locked up in a stone cell? It even has a torch on the wall (and a drip), just like Lure of the Temptress. Though this time around I've got no straw to set on fire to lure the guard in.

Plus our poor hero's stuck chained up by the ankles... wearing a medieval outfit for some reason. Is this a side effect of the witch magic I wonder, or did they strip him and swap his clothes? Why is he even here?

Oh great, they've got me controlling him using icons. Well to be fair, most of these seem pretty self evident, and I suppose six commands isn't so bad. Alright first I'm going to USE the manacles, just to check if they remembered to lock them.

Crap, each command just leads to more commands, and they're getting harder to decipher now.

Okay let's see if I can figure some of these out. Right, first one is a key hole and a key, so that's obviously 'unlock'. Next one is credit card into a slot, so that's 'buy'. Then there's 'martial arts', 'eat cereal', 'taunt bull', 'yoyo', 'offer biscuits', and 'lego'.

Surprisingly none of these were much use against locked metal restraints, so I'm going to have to try a different approach here.

Look at that, I've figured out how to get the key using the power of speech samples, and I didn't even need to set anything on fire! The dumbass guard just walks off without noticing that he's not holding a key anymore.

Well the good news is the key worked on the shackles. The bad news is it didn't work on the door, so I'm still trapped here.

So I tried walking around the cell, looking at stuff, and loose bricks appeared in my list of stuff to check out. The way this interface works is that I can't actually select anything directly on the screen, instead I control every action with this panel of buttons. I still get to click on the level to move around, but even that can be controlled with keys or joystick instead. It's like the game was designed with consoles in mind, despite only ever being released on computers.

The bricks were hiding a paper clip, so I used my character's incredible lock picking skills (either his parents are escapologists, or the guy does a bit of burglary in his spare time) and managed to open a heavy cell door lock with a thin piece of bendy metal.

The one-legged fish guard kept bouncing in my way until I picked up the fish bowl, then he immediately wandered off screen. I complained in my Beyond Shadowgate post about the game not making sure I had all the necessary items before letting me go, so it is nice to see this game isn't just letting me wander out without something I'll need later. But this seems like a really lazy way of handling it, as there's no clue here I can see that the guy even gives a damn about the fish tank. He's not even looking this way!

I call bullshit. That sign was NOT in my inventory a second ago! My suspension of disbelief is ruined!

It almost makes me wish I could play a Wile E Coyote adventure game, but then I remember what the last two Road Runner games I played were like and I'm suddenly put off the idea.

Fortunately our hero is as resilient as a LucasArts character, so there's no risk of death in this at all. In fact he can go one better than Guybrush Threepwood, as he can hold his breath for well over ten minutes. I left him sitting here for quarter of an hour in fact because, well, I had to check didn't I?

He can't move like this though, not without a fish bowl on his head (obviously). The game runs on cartoon logic, so as long as he looks like a diver it makes no difference that there's no oxygen inside what's passing for a helmet.

So far the only dialogue in the game so far has been 'HELP!'  which I used to lure the guard into my cell earlier, and 'SHUT UP!' when he yelled back at me, so I'm struggling to communicate here. I mean I get that worm thing equals air tank, but I seem to be doing just fine without air so why would I want an air tank? Plus I haven't even found a worm.

So this is what I've been reduced to, poking bits of mud on the sea bed to look for worms. Hey I've got a solution to this puzzle baseball kid, just swim up! It's not like you've got an idol tied to your leg or something.

And if you can't swim, well, you've got a lot of motivation to learn, and nothing better to do.

I need someone to give me a lift over these electric eels, but the turtle won't come and give me a ride unless I lure him down here. Well I've got a paper clip, and a shell, so I suppose it's the shell this time? I have no idea what objects turtles consider desirable.

You might be wondering why I can't just walk around the eels, seeing as this is clearly a big open area, and... I haven't got a clue. I suppose the developers forgot they weren't making a platformer.

Well, fuck.


A few scavenged parts from the fish shop sign, a charge from an electric eel, and a bit of ingenuity later, and I managed to craft a makeshift electric prod!

Actually no that was all a lie, I just found it. It was sitting behind the weeds, barely visible. Finally that 'attack' command comes in useful though!

Oh and now I'm getting use out of the jump command. I can't believe anyone would look at Monkey Island 1's interface and think 'You know what would make this better? EVEN MORE commands! Oh and no funny dialogue'.

Shame I couldn't have used this command earlier when those electric eels were blocking the path. But nope, only turtles must be used to avoid eels.

Well how the hell do I get this plug out?

If you guessed "insert electric prod using the 'credit card in slot' icon, then use it as a lever"... you win 10 points.

Aww, opening the plug just sucked me down into this cave, instead of emptying the entire moat like I was hoping.

Look at that reflection. If there's one thing this game gets right it's the graphics. Painted art doesn't really ever look dated. Shame this music's getting old. I can't believe it's still playing the same song it was on the title screen. Amiga gamers are more fortunate in this case as that version is mercifully musicless in game.

The good news is that these caves give me a chance to walk around a bit, instead of being stuck on one long scrolling screen. The bad news is, everywhere I go looks the same and there's nothing to pick up but rocks. Only certain rocks though, I have go up to them in turn and check to see if their icon appears in the examine menu. That's all the look button's used for by the way, it just tells you what's nearby, it doesn't actually let you examine anything.

But of course I have to pick up each and every rock it'll let me carry, because this is an adventure game, and that's the rule.

Oh hang on, this isn't an identical cave. This looks a bit like... a logical puzzle! There's a thing on the ledge I can't reach, a plank of wood, and a pivot. I think I'm formulating a cunning plan.

And my solution actually worked, right up to the point where I was standing on my makeshift catapult trying to find the command for 'use a heavy rock on the other side to fling me up.' Nothing I tried would get him to throw a boulder onto that plank. I don't know, maybe they're fake polystyrene Star Trek rocks or something.

Oh crap, it's a random mud ghost haunting the corridor! I avoided this thing at first, thinking it was an enemy, but nope it's just... here. I'm guessing I have to stretch something across those metal hoops to catch it perhaps, so if I ever find any thread I'll have to remember where this place is.

The mud ghost passageway led to a guy that apparently wants rocks to smash. In fact he's commissioned a series of paintings depicting the amount and type of rocks on his wish list, which changes as I hand them over.

So yeah this puzzle basically revolves around me searching this cave maze for, what's that on the painting? Around 12 rocks maybe? I'm sure my slow walking speed is going to make this extra fun! 

Hang on, this is a new room! I was expecting this path to lead to a corridor. I really need to draw up a map of this place

I mean I really am drawing up a map here, because I'll need to find my way back to this room to pick up the stuff after I've offloaded these rocks onto the rock basher. Our hero can fit basically anything into his pocket, but only 10 of them, and he can't pick up a damn thing while he's got a pocket full of rocks.

My reward for bringing that guy 12 or so rocks was a piece of string, so I ran back to tie it between the mud monster's hoops... and it didn't work. Of course I'm just guessing it's string, there's no descriptive text (or any text) in this. For all I know it's a PC mouse, after all I did just find a computer monitor.

So here I am back in this room, and right now I'm so desperate to solve this bloody puzzle that I'm going to try throwing the monitor onto the catapult. And if this actually works I'm deducting 10,000 points from the score for it fucking me around.

Well there you go. There's Curse of Enchantia for you. Don't try to figure things out logically, just try shit until it works. If this game had a neck I'd strangle it.

Anyway, I've found a magnet up here, and I'm going to go try it on a spool of thread I saw stuck in hole earlier. I've got no reason to think it's magnetic, and that's exactly why I'm sure it'll work.

Damn, I honestly did expect that'd work. I've tied the string onto the magnet, and I tried inserting it into the hole, but the game keeps telling me it's the wrong solution.

Well okay then, that's it. I'm sick of this so I'm just going to cheat and look up the solution in a walkthrough. Let's hit GameFAQs and find out what I'm actually meant to do here.
"Combine the magnet to the string and use the throw command to get it down the hole."
... right. So I was doing the correct thing, I was just using the wrong command.

I suppose it could be worse though. When I tried poking around in a hole in Beyond Shadowgate, my dude got eaten alive by green slime.

Huh, I've found another new room? How can I still be finding new places in these caves, I've been walking around for what seems like hours. Though to be fair most of that time was spent waiting for the screen to slowly scroll over as I walked across.

Anyway here's a wishing well, and I've got a gold coin. Seems like a no-brainer, but the well is out of order. Well I guess I could try to figure out how to fix a wishing well... but fuck that, it's walkthrough time!

Hmm, turns out that I can ONLY make a wish after I've collected all the items from the caves. Not to fix it or anything, just because this game has lazy fucking puzzles.

Well I was able to use the spool of wire to cut a slice of mud from the ghost. Why did I have to do this? Let's check the walkthrough!
"Tie the seaweed to the mud, and then add on the twigs to create a mask."
The now fully operational wishing well gave me a choice of fabulous prizes!

I chose... poorly.

Right, I was able to use my hard won helmet to get through the infinite falling rocks and make it to the cave exit! But now there's a problem: this well only works for robots. Or maybe monsters, the sign's a bit unclear.

Now I'm not going to even try to guess at why this set up exists, but I am a little confused at how I'm supposed to look at that picture and think 'if I combine mud, sticks and seaweed to make a mask, I could look just like that!'

And that's 41% completion. Oh and by the way, it's STILL playing the same music that's been looping in the background since the title screen.

It's a shame I'm not liking this, because it really is a nice looking game... for 1992. In fact if they still have the original artwork on paper somewhere, I bet you could scan that in and make a HD remake. I mean if the world eventually runs out of good adventure games to remake.

This game got scores in the 80-90% range on release, and I can kind of see why. Actually, no I can't! What the fuck where they thinking? The game (so far) has been tedious, miserable, and frustrating, the interface has been awkward, and the puzzles have been a mess. I admit I'm not much of an adventure game player, but even I can tell something's gone wrong with this one.

As always if you want to give your own opinions on the game, accuse me of 'not getting adventure games', or just leave some words to assure me someone in the world is actually reading all this, feel free to leave a comment!

Oh and by the way if anyone can think of any other early 90s medieval themed point and click adventures where you start locked up in a torch-lit stone prison cell... please keep them to yourself, I can't take anymore.

1 comment:

  1. im reading this...and i agree whit everything you say...i buy this game in the 90 because a fucking pc game magazine lie to me saying that was good...


Semi-Random Game Box