Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight (Amiga)

Moonstone title screen
Here's another title I can finally cross off my game requests list: Moonstone, released for Amiga and PC way back at the dawn of the 90s. I'm positive I must have played this one before, I remember people pestering me to give it a try as it's a bit of a cult classic, but I can't remember a thing about it. I'd even forgotten about the dumb Beatles pun in the title.

The intro starts with a shot of the full moon, before panning down to reveal an entirely unskippable animation of druids heading off to work. There's no narration here, voiced or otherwise, so I'm left to figure out what's going on myself.

Meanwhile, a lone knight watches from the shadows as the druids start chanting in a Stonehenge-style henge of stones, and he looks eager to march right in there and start some shit. Or maybe his hand's just cold, it's hard to tell.

Oh, turns out he was just there to get a medal! And then they all went down the pub to celebrate. Probably.

I don't know why these games even bother to ask me to enter a name, they never like the one I try to put in. Bet you the day I try entering a five letter name into a game, it'll give me a four letter limit.

Right, I've got a choice of colour coded knights to play as. There's Sir Godber, photographed while frolicking in a cornfield, Sir Richard, who looks lost, Sir Jeffrey, who still thinks it's funny to joke about his 'big weapon', and Santa Claus. The guy in the intro was wearing red, but I decided to go with the orange one because it's not Christmas... yet.


THE QUEST OF SIR RICHARD.


Moonstone world map
Hey, the game's got a world map. Shame there's no heroic music for me to quest to. Or any music at all.

I'm presumably controlling the flickering helmet with the orange plume over in the top right corner. I've been given no instructions or goal, but the region I've started at is flashing so I might as well begin by checking this place out.

Well that just brought up my inventory. I'm apparently carrying a long sword, padded armour, ten daggers, and a few spare helmets. Actually I think they might be my lives.

Well that apparently wasted a turn, and a few other helmets appeared on the map to carry on with their own quests. Presumably they even know where they're meant to be going.

On my second turn on the map, I headed south west, and entered one of the little huts. Now I've apparently got to kill this bloke to claim the treasure in the background.

There's nowhere else to go, I'm locked in on this one screen, but I'm free to walk around the entire ground area. It's not like a 2D fighting game, with both characters locked to a certain depth.

I managed a lucky win against the hammer wielding maniac, but it turns out he had a brother! And he's got a hammer too.

I'm assuming that pulling different directions on the joystick while pressing fire will trigger different moves, but I'm little too busy to test that out right now. I think I'll be sticking with this slow forward slash until the enemies give me a moment's peace.

They just keep coming! The first two enemies were enough of a struggle, but worn down and tired I was no match against a man driven mad with grief by the deaths of his two favourite identical twin brothers. I survived a few hits, but dogged determination and a stylish suit of armour can only take you so far against a sledgehammer.

But wait, there's more!

One of the other helmets on the world map decided to pay me a visit, so I have a second fight this turn. Unfortunately this guy knows how to throw his daggers, so I'm screwed. Two lives lost in a single go.

On my third turn I decided to check out the tower to the north west, where I encountered the mighty wizard Math. Wait, did I read that right? He's actually called Math?

Moonstone mighty wizard Math
Man, I can't believe they called this guy Math. He's not even SARUMAN MATH, or ELMINSTER MATH, or something with a bit of grandeur or foreboding to it. Nope, he's just plain, simple, Math.

Anyway, I shouldn't mock old Mr Math, as he's decided that the Force is strong with me, and that I am worthy of a gift to help me in my quest. So he threw down 15 quid for a new sword or whatever. Thanks Wizard Math!

Turn four went surprisingly well. I journeyed south towards the hills and encountered the entire surviving Hammer Bros clan at once. I'm still working on figuring out these controls, but it seems that the basic slash can take you far as long as you're quick to get out of the way of a falling sledgehammer.

This time I finally got to open the chest, and collected 21 gold, a Scroll of the Wyrm, and a snow globe. I really need to go find a shop so I can spend this cash, preferably before I run out of lives.


LATER.


Moonstone Waterdeep
Turn seven, and I've finally arrived at the city of Waterdeep, at the far south east of the map.

Okay, before I spend all my coin on swords and health potions, I should probably go see what Mythral the Mystic has to say.

Moonstone Mythral the Mystic
For a small donation the guy gave me an extra attribute point! Which (assuming I've done the maths right in my head) should bring my constitution stat up to round about, hmmmmm... two.

Moonstone shop
Still that's gotten me 10 extra hit points, so I'm not complaining. Only two lives left now though.

The merchant has a decent selection of weapons and armour here, but besides the price there's no indication of how good any of it is. Still, it's not like there's anything else I can spend my cash on, (I'm a bit wary of asking too much too soon from my one-eyed mystic friend) so I'm going to buy the weird looking claymore for 25 gold.

Moonstone tavern
Oh, I thought there might be quests or info available in the tavern, I didn't realise it was going to be gambling. At least I hope it's gambling they're doing.

Maybe I can get out of this with enough cash to buy the good armour!

Moonstone dice game
Crap, well I just lost every penny I had. Or at least they claim that I lost, but it's not like I know how to play this dice game. They could all just be bullshitting me.

I just realised that those are moon phases on the dice. Man, the people in this world are obsessed with the moon.

And then I got clubbed to death by a blue guy in the swamp. The end.

I've been finding it tricky to get my attacks to connect sometimes, because I have to be lined up horizontally with an enemy to hit it. And while I'm screwing around trying to adjust my position, it gives them a open invitation to perform a bit of amateur brain surgery.


EVENTUALLY.


This time I did the sensible thing and chose to play on practice mode instead, so I can actually figure out these moves. Now I'm the guy in blue, fighting that green knight with his brain turned off.

Okay, it seems that I actually have eight moves available to me, each activated by holding a different direction on the joystick and pressing the fire button. There's a low thrust, a high slash, backwards stab, dagger throw... all kinds of attacks. Plus a dodge and a block. Shame I can't practice my defensive moves here though, as my training partner is basically a knight-shaped punching bag.

Well now I know what I'm doing, I have 100% confidence that on my next attempt I'll still get my ass handed to me on the first fight.


THE QUEST OF SIR JEFFREY.


Well, I put up a good fight, but these monkey hedgehog creatures just kept coming until I started to make mistakes. After that it didn't take long for me to get my shiny new green knight killed.

Moonstone treasure
Though on my next visit there were fewer enemies and I was able to win the day! Though I didn't actually win any treasure. Look at that, an empty box. After all that trouble my poor knight went through to force the lock as well.

Oh, and look, now I've got 5 hit points left. I have to carry on in the same broken state I finished the last fight in.

Sir Jeffrey didn't last long after this I'm sad to say. His quest led to failure at every turn, until he was put out of his misery with one good smack with a stick.


THE QUEST OF SIR GODBER.


Sir Godber the blue knight also travelled the path of failure, though of course he started in the cornfields instead. It seems each of the knights starts off in their own corner of the map.

The game can actually have up to four human players at once, each taking turns to move their helmet on the map. When played in single player the other knights are replaced with computer controlled black knights.

Though they look more like purple to me.

It might just be my imagination, but it seems like these guys can smell treasure, and if I've got any on me they swarm in around me the map and take turns beating me up for it.

Right, I managed to win another fight, but I'm not doing well. Fortunately I was close to the city of Highwood, so I thought I'd pop in and visit the doctor.

Bastard! I'm able to choose what I want to pay for my healing, but I apparently didn't offer enough to buy me anything but a herbal remedy with doesn't actually remedy a damn thing. Of course I can't just decline, nope that money is gone now. Wasted.


THE QUEST OF SIR EDWARD.


Well, I tried a new game as the red knight this time, and it went about as well as I expected. Well, okay I wasn't expecting to get one shot killed by a mud monster at the very start of this fight, but I probably should have been by now. The game is really cruel.

(MS-DOS)
Here's what the PC version of the game looks like by the way. It appears to be more or less identical, with the same gameplay, the same gory animations, and the same instant death when this troll-thing jumps on you.

Yeah, I think I'm done with this now. I'm just not making any progress in it at all. Well okay, one time I managed to win in three areas which earned me a new point to spend on one of my attributes, and I found the mighty Sword of Sharpness, which does... an unspecified amount of damage. But it never seemed to get any easier and I wasn't able to get any momentum going. My knight was dead in nine turns or less, every time.


To be fair though, I get the feeling that the problem here is my lack of skill, rather than the gameplay being broken. I wouldn't call the game slick, but it does seem fairly well made. I did sometimes find it awkward to pull off the right move I wanted though, and I doubt I'd get much out of the game even if I wasn't a complete failure of a knight. There's not much to it really, it takes what feels like forever to get back into the next fight, and the combat wasn't that appealing to me anyway.

I can believe there's a fun game in here if you've got the talent for it, but it's not for me.


Any opinions about Moonstone, my total failure to get anywhere in it, the site in general, or anything else halfway relevant? Feel free to leave a comment.

2 comments:

  1. That looks interesting, especially the borderline amusing amounts of splatter!

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  2. The game is a classic. best to play with 3 or 4 of you. for age of game the graphics are pretty good :-)
    There is a random dragon that attacks too and final part of quest is dependent on the moon (shown at the start of each new day)
    for a game in the early 90s you cant go wrong.

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