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Lords of Midnight (1985)            

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Details (Commodore 64) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Beyond Software
Adventure / RPG
Mike Singleton
64K
1
No (keyboard only)
Eng
N/A
Audio cassette
UK (£9.95)
Doomdarks Revenge
Game instructions, Game Map
Won Best Strategy Game of the Year in 1984 (C&VG Golden Joystick Awards), and 7th Best Game of all time (Your Sinclair/Retro Gamer Magazine 2004)
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Amstrad CPC  NR
Commodore 64  9.3
Sinclair ZX Spectrum  NR




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Issue 1, May 1985
Added: 17 Mar 2013
O The original epic combining adventure and strategy
O 4,000 locations with 32,000 possible views

This game, released last year on the Spectrum, was heralded as the first 'epic' game -- its size, complexity and originality certainly earn that title.

The program is a combination of adventure and war game. It is set in the land of Midnight, which offers no less than 4,000 locations in each of which you can see the 'view' in any of eight directions.

It is this innovative 'landscaping' feature and the highly original gameplay -- you control several independent characters -- which give the game its unique feel.

At the start of the quest there are four characters under your command, and as you explore you can recruit others. The action revolves around two main characters: Luxor and his son Morkin -- they must eliminate the power of the evil Doomdark who is trying to control Midnight through his overpowering ice-fear and massive armies.

There are two ways to defeat Doomdark -- Luxor can command the armies of the free to victory by seizing the Citadel of Ushgarak, or Morkin can destroy the source of Doomdark's power, the Ice crown at the Tower of Doom. The first is akin to a war game and the second more of an adventure.

You are defeated with the death of both Luxor and Morkin. However, the death of only one will still allow the other to try and complete his task.

When controlling the characters, you have four main choices as to what to do. You can VIEW the landscape surrounding you in eight compass directions, MOVE towards any of these unless something blocks your path, THINK -- allows you to examine your character's state in more detail -- or CHOOSE from a range of actions which varies according to your situation.

Usually the latter involves seeking information, recruiting men, hiding, or going into battle. The land is littered with mountains, citadels, forests, towers, keeps, and ten other types of features. At each of these you may find information, men or shelter, or even a more hostile reception.

Movement around Midnight is regulated by the passing of the days with your characters unable to move at night when Doomdark's forces are at large. Your progress is also affected by the terrain and the creatures that may block your path.

Other handy controls allow you to save the game, or even print a record of your progress. Because of the number of characters to control and the size of the land, these are much needed functions for very long games.

There is no sound but the graphics are exceptional with a marvellous animated loading sequence and the amazing panoramic views of Midnight as you play.

BW

The Spectrum classic comes to the 64 with no noticeable differences, making me rather disappointed. I thought perhaps with the 64's vastly superior graphics capabilities, Beyond would have improved on the original pictures. Even so, this still is a classic adventure + strategy game, and will have 64 owners up until the dawn chorus.

The map available here (which is NOT supplied with the game) shows you the whole of the land of Midnight.

The citadels and keeps are where you will find Lords to recruit with their men, while towers, henges, lakes and liths may provide information or powers. Shelter and hiding places can be found at most of the other man-made locations, although some conceal dangers.

The mountain ranges across the middle serve as a natural barrier between good and evil, with you in the south, while the areas of plain, notably Blood and Kor, serve as obvious battlegrounds.

This map doesn't provide all the answers for which you seek, but mustering the forces of the Free should now be within your grasp.

The Map was supplied by H J Douglas from Belfast, and the second half is on pages 98/99.

This adventure strategy game certainly lives up to its 'epic' billing. The 32,000, or so, panoramic views are very impressive -- a high standard of graphics and a strong atmosphere are maintained throughout. The lack of sound hardly detracts at all. Recruiting an army to aid the destruction of the ice crown is tough and, because of this, lasting interest is high. A must for adventurers and strategists alike.

PRESENTATION
96% Marvellous booklet, facilities and text, plus a tremendous loading screen.

ORIGINALITY
85% Introduces a unique game-playing format.

GRAPHICS
83% No animation, but endless terrific panoramic screens.

HOOKABILITY
84% The game's atmosphere and uniqueness make it very compelling.

SOUND
00% None.

LASTABILITY
92% A vast land to explore, an immense amount to do.

VALUE FOR MONEY
91% Worth it if ever a game was.
Unknown

Added: 16 Dec 2008
Dark side of Midnight
THE ARMIES of Doomdark are rising, swarming like locusts over the plains and passes of the land of Midnight, bringing with them the ice-fear, which drains the soul of courage and renders the bold sword arm numb with fear. Midnight's last hope is Prince Luxor, holder of the powerful moonstone. That, as if you had not guessed, is where you come in.


Lords of Midnight is a truly epic adventure from Beyond Software. You play the part of Prince Luxor and his allies, whose movements you control through the telepathic power of the moonstone. During the day you, and those you have won to your cause, travel the land raising armies, fighting battles, and sending ambassadors to recruit more Lords to your side.

The most striking feature is the superb graphics system, whereby the screen displays your view of the land from where you stand. Distant objects become bigger as you move towards them and you will need to develop a keen eye to spot significant features on the distant horizon. Fortunately, you are provided with a map of the Land of Midnight to help you plan your campaign, although deliberately it omits many features and gives only an approximate indication of distances.

The graphics are built of standard pictures for various parts of the landscape; it is claimed that there are 32,000 possible views, all different in some respect from each other. Fortunately there is sufficient variety and detail in the pictures to sustain interest and the information contained in them is vital to the game, as there is very little accompanying text.

Unlike most adventures, Lords of Midnight is not played with pseudo-English commands but with a keyboard overlay setting out your options. In certain circumstances the CHOOSE option will provide a menu of further decisions, such as initiating a battle or recruiting men. Those decisions depend on the qualities of individual characters; if a commander is very frightened, he will be less likely to consider joining a battle. Likewise, movement is determined by terrain and physical stamina. The system of menus may appear slightly confusing at first but rapidly becomes easy to use and the response time is excellent, with pictures generated almost instantaneously.

There are two distinct types of game combined in Lord of Midnight. First, there is a quest, as Luxor's son Morkin is set the task of travelling into the heart of the realm of Doomdark to seize and destroy the ice-crown, the source of all evil power. Only Morkin is pure and bold enough to do that.

Second, Luxor and his armies must attempt to conquer Doomdark militarily, or at least prevent the enemy capturing the key citadel of Xajorkith. Thus the game can be played either as a war game or as a quest but both elements affect each other, for the war may distract Doomdark's armies from Morkin, and the closer Morkin gets to success, the less Doomdark can direct his ice-fear against Luxor's armies.

If you love fantasy and wish to immerse yourself in a genuine tale of epic adventure, Lords of Midnight will provide as authentic a taste of Tolkien or Donaldson as any game yet produced.



Chris Bourne


LORDS OF MIDNIGHT Memory: 48K Price: £9.95 Gilbert Factor: 9

Unknown

Added: 16 Dec 2008
Dark side of Midnight
THE ARMIES of Doomdark are rising, swarming like locusts over the plains and passes of the land of Midnight, bringing with them the ice-fear, which drains the soul of courage and renders the bold sword arm numb with fear. Midnight's last hope is Prince Luxor, holder of the powerful moonstone. That, as if you had not guessed, is where you come in.


Lords of Midnight is a truly epic adventure from Beyond Software. You play the part of Prince Luxor and his allies, whose movements you control through the telepathic power of the moonstone. During the day you, and those you have won to your cause, travel the land raising armies, fighting battles, and sending ambassadors to recruit more Lords to your side.

The most striking feature is the superb graphics system, whereby the screen displays your view of the land from where you stand. Distant objects become bigger as you move towards them and you will need to develop a keen eye to spot significant features on the distant horizon. Fortunately, you are provided with a map of the Land of Midnight to help you plan your campaign, although deliberately it omits many features and gives only an approximate indication of distances.

The graphics are built of standard pictures for various parts of the landscape; it is claimed that there are 32,000 possible views, all different in some respect from each other. Fortunately there is sufficient variety and detail in the pictures to sustain interest and the information contained in them is vital to the game, as there is very little accompanying text.

Unlike most adventures, Lords of Midnight is not played with pseudo-English commands but with a keyboard overlay setting out your options. In certain circumstances the CHOOSE option will provide a menu of further decisions, such as initiating a battle or recruiting men. Those decisions depend on the qualities of individual characters; if a commander is very frightened, he will be less likely to consider joining a battle. Likewise, movement is determined by terrain and physical stamina. The system of menus may appear slightly confusing at first but rapidly becomes easy to use and the response time is excellent, with pictures generated almost instantaneously.

There are two distinct types of game combined in Lord of Midnight. First, there is a quest, as Luxor's son Morkin is set the task of travelling into the heart of the realm of Doomdark to seize and destroy the ice-crown, the source of all evil power. Only Morkin is pure and bold enough to do that.

Second, Luxor and his armies must attempt to conquer Doomdark militarily, or at least prevent the enemy capturing the key citadel of Xajorkith. Thus the game can be played either as a war game or as a quest but both elements affect each other, for the war may distract Doomdark's armies from Morkin, and the closer Morkin gets to success, the less Doomdark can direct his ice-fear against Luxor's armies.

If you love fantasy and wish to immerse yourself in a genuine tale of epic adventure, Lords of Midnight will provide as authentic a taste of Tolkien or Donaldson as any game yet produced.



Chris Bourne


LORDS OF MIDNIGHT Memory: 48K Price: £9.95 Gilbert Factor: 9

Unknown

Added: 15 Jul 2013
In Mike Singleton's own words:
"The Lords of Midnight is not simply an adventure game nor simply a war game. It was really a new type that became known as an epic game, for as you play the Lords of Midnight you will be writing a new chapter in the history of the peoples of the Free. You will guide individual characters across the land of Midnight on vital quests but you will also command armies that must endeavour to hold back the foul hordes of Doomdark, the witch king. Yours will be no inevitable victory." - Mike Singleton 1984


Added: 14 Dec 2008
Producer: Beyond
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £9.95
Author: M. Singleton



Beyond have produced a game of immense complexity that transcends the simple word-matching of the mainstream adventure and in many respects more resembles a strategy war game. Many features of the game are new or are developed to an elaborate degree setting new high standards in Spectrum software.

The cassette is accompanied by a lavish booklet giving thorough and very sound playing instructions. When I say you will need them, and you most certainly will need to read some of the hints given, I mean this as a compliment to the inventive depth which pervades the whole project.


There is an original reward for the first adventurer to finish off Doomdark, your evil adversary. The prize has the winner cast in the role of fantasy fiction writer as he will become the co-author of a novel based upon the scenes of his unique version of the War of the Solstice. Thus you will have had a hand in creating the first ever computer-generated novel. Had I heard of this idea from a third party I would’ve immediately dismissed it as half baked folly but having seen the game I should like to be first in line to receive a copy.

A look at the overlay card for the keyboard might show some ways this game differs from the others. Instead of the adventure-style input, here you have a set of keywords. LOOK gives a vista with details of where a character stands. The heraldic shield at the top right tells you through whose eyes you are looking. You can turn a character to look in another direction by pressing the appropriate direction key. THINK gives more details regarding the character and any army he controls is numbered and described. CHOOSE can lead to searching, hiding, attacking an enemy and repairing defences but the options will shrink or expand with different characters and circumstances; a cowardly character will seldom volunteer for daring deeds. SELECT gives you a list and allows access to the characters under your control. At the beginning of the game you only control four characters but can employ many more once you have visited the various citadels and keeps scattered about the land.

Although this game is so complex it is difficult to review in the few days available there is one feature which impresses on the very first frame of the game. The graphics which show your journey through the land of Midnight are little short of stunning. The panoramic views are drawn in full perspective and consecutive moves see mountains, forests, hills, citadels, towers and fortresses rising in stature as you approach or fade to distant outlines as you leave. The screen as a whole is very well presented as if designed by a graphic artist. There is no crude split on the main screen but instead a pleasing mixture of superb views of the scene, tastefully redefined characters for the text, a heraldic shield depicting the crest under which your character fights, and highly decorative and detailed representations of the numbers and type of foe you might come across. These last are the best I’ve seen on the Spectrum.

Possibly the most pleasing aspect of the Lords of Midnight is its wonderfully coherent storyline.

Doomdark has woken from his slumber and the lands of Midnight are plunged into Winter. This Solstice is the peak of the Witch king’s power and it is now that you must defeat him. The computer plays the role of Doomdark and intelligently pits the evil forces against you. A cold blast of fear emanates from the Citadel of Ushgarak, blowing across the Plains of Despair ever southwards to where you are busy marshalling troops. Victory for Doomdark is eliminating Luxor the Moonprince and Morkin, his son. Alternatively he can creep south into the peaceful land of the Free, striking at its figurehead of serenity and happiness — the Citadel of Xajorkith.

If thinking of yourself pitted against the computer fills you with despair don’t worry, you have your friends and your own wits. You take the role of Luxor the Moonprince, Lord of the Free and your first task is to travel abroad and gain the support of the other citadels and keeps throughout the land of Midnight and amass an army. As Luxor you have the Power of Vision and the Power of Command which enable you to control other characters loyal to you, move through the land of Midnight and look through their eyes. The closer a character or army is to Luxor and his Moon Ring the less demoralising is the effect of the Ice Fear that emanates from the Plains of Darkness as the ring radiates the strength and warmth of his mind.

Your most trusted companion, and the most important person in the quest, is your own son Morkin who is half human and half fey. By virtue of his unique ancestry Morkin can withstand the utter coldness of the Ice Fear which is increasingly directed at him as he approaches the Citadel of Ushgarak and so lifts some of the burden upon the armies of the Free.

You initially have control over four characters: Luxor, Morkin, Corleth the Fey and Rothron the Wise but as you progress such characters as the Lord of Shimeral and the Lord of Brith and their armies add support to the forces of the Free.

If I run through a typical game it may show you some of the great features it has and perhaps some tips if you’ve already got a copy.

My tactics, and remember you’ll need them as this is very much a strategy game, involved building up armies at the Citadel of Shimeril guarding the western route into the tranquil south-east and at the Keep of Athoril which overlooks a major route south.

Luxor headed south-east past the cave of shadows, through the Mountains of Ishmalay to the Keep of Brith where the Lord Brith is recruited to the cause. Lord Brith travels north-east to the Citadel of Shimeril while Luxor leaves to the east to recruit Lord Mitharg who in turn heads north to Shimeril. Mitharg picks up an extra 100 warriors on his way at a keep in the Domain of Blood.

Morkin travels east to the Domain of Morakith and finds shelter and refreshment at keeps along the way. In the east he gets quite a shock to see Doomdark’s troops lined up with 890 riders. Morkin finds it difficult to recruit Lords of keeps and citadels, presumably because he is so young, but does manage to persuade the Lord of Whispers a little further along his way.

Corleth headed east to Shimeril ahead of Morkin and seeks and finds the sword Wolfslayer — very handy when you meet wild wolves as well as Skulkin and ice trolls. You can become very blasé about killing these creatures but if you are tired they’ll give you a nasty surprise. Corleath is very invigorated and utterly bold and the Ice Fear is mild. In these early stages all is going well.

Rothron goes north-east but, apart from recruiting the Lord Blood who takes his 1190 riders and 375 warriors south to Shimeril, he plays little further active part in the game and comes to an untimely end at the hands of the Skulkin.


During the night of the third day Doomdark has made his presence felt. The bloody sword of battle brings death in the Domains of Kor and Lorgrim which are unfamiliar to me. I consult the map to find they are in the far north in the vicinity of the Citadel of Ushgarak.

Lord Blood loses 10 in the battle of Blood but picks up 100 warriors in a keep in the Domain of Blood on his way south. He finds Lord Mitharg at a keep unaware he is so near to the Citadel of Shimeril where the Free have decided to meet. Blood takes Mitharg south with him.

The Lords of Shimeril, Brith, Blood and Mitharg are now encamped within the relative safety of the Citadel of Shimeril, overnight losses being small — say 5 to 10 warriors and about the same riders per army a night.

In the later stages of the game Luxor recruits and sends Lord Dawn to the citadel with 1200 warriors and 600 riders, bringing the total warriors in the Citadel of Shimeril up to 3500 and riders to 4000. Later Luxor finds Athoril, with its keep and Lord Athoril and begins to build up forces here, the point I had chosen as the second major bastion of defence and counter attack. The Utarg of Utarg ma
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This title was first added on 13th January 2008
This title was most recently updated on 10th December 2014


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