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Neverending Story, The (1985)      

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Ocean Software Ltd
Adventure / Graphical
Ocean Software, Ian Weatherburn, Simon Butler, D. C. Ward
Fred Gray

64K
1
Yes
Eng
N/A
Audio cassette
UK (£9.95)
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Issue 2 (Dec 1985) (Amtix!)   16th Jun 2016 09:36
Ocean, £9.95 cass
Though not exactly reknowned for adventure games. Ocean have dived in at the deep end and produced a licensed version of Never Ending Story from the film of the same name, in a twin cassette pack and utilising both a heavily redefined character set and full colour graphics. Well, what you get for your money looks good, if nothing else...

To the plot then. You play a young boy with an alter ego Atreyu from a fantasy land accessible by reading a certain book (guess what it's called). In this land, the young Atreyu is supposed to be one of the greatest living warriors. Weil, the tests of tests is here to find out if that's the case because something called the Nothing is swallowing the land faster than Jeremy can eat everybody else's lunch, and it shows no sign of getting indigestion. Your task is to find out what the Nothing is and stop it.
As you may suspect, this is no easy task and several characters and creatures will have to help you if you are to have any chance of success.

Your powerful horse, Artax, can be found and there is a way to call a more powerful ally in the form of Falkor, the Luck Dragon. These are just two of the characters you will meet on your quest. The game has a lot more in it than the original film, including your homelands and the Silver Mountains.

On loading, you're greeted with a none too unpleasant version of the theme tune from the film. However, the moment the little ditty is over, you are told to load in the first of three data blocks. Like I said, there's a lot more in this adventure than in the film. The second part of the loading process soon ends and you are launched into the game proper. At the bottom of the screen is the input area and above it is the the usual descrip-tive passage. However, the most interesting point on the presentation front, was that the graphics window (which contained beautifully drawn backgrounds graphics) contained another window which constantly changed to reveal the main character of any given scene. If this wasn't pleasantly original enough, every time you collected an object, it to would be displayed in its own little window.
All the graphics were not only colourful, but superbly drawn. There's no doubt that Ocean
took the presentation side of the game very seriously indeed. On the subject of presentation, the character set is pretty incredible as well. Easily read, it has atmosphere and a Roger Dean like style, somehow reminiscent of early Yes albums. Rather unfortunately, there is the occasional clash of poorly designed capital letters, but the overall effect is very striking and impressive. The one thing that spoils the presentation is the appalling text scrolling. About two minutes thought and a few bytes of code could have rectified that problem.
The game takes place in pseudo — real time with the result that the phrase "You wait' appears when there is any considerable gap between player input. The input editing facilities are noticeable by their absence also, Keyboard response was dodgy and there was now way to edit other than use of the delete key. Unfortunately the delete key had no auto-repeat either. One saving grace was the fact that the game responded to an input so quickly that it was really not too bad if mistakes were made because a corrected version could soon be typed in.
It was not too surprising to find that the interpreter handled player input quickly as it had an abysmally small vocabulary. It didn't understand the word 'examine' or 'help' (which most adventures at least have a smart remark for) or indeed many others. Simple, two word input was the order of the day, and it appears that the word handling system looked no further than the last word it couldn't understand. This led to a variety of difficulties but I don't know for sure, whether these had anything to do with the fact that the game told me that I wasn't carrying a burning branch in one move, before telling me that it was part of my inventory! All things considered, this game won't be remembered as a classic in terms of interaction.
Still, I couldn't help being impressed with the overall look and feel of the adventure and wanted to go on. On the whole, I suppose it isn't that bad, it's just that it looks so good, you expect more. I would rate the graphics themselves as a little below Adventure Inernational quality (though the way they are used is very good). Interaction is even further below the standards set by AI. Not a bad first effort and if you liked the film (my girlfriend dragged me to see it, honest) then you will probably find it worthwhile. One thing's for sure. The plot isn't all that easy to solve and there's plenty of it, too.

Atmosphere 79%
Plot 84%
Interaction 52%
Lastability 81%
Value for money 83%
Overall 79%


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This title was first added on 6th July 2014
This title was most recently updated on 16th June 2016


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