ST Format Review (Issue 20)
- MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator.
- D-Bug 148, Superior 55
- Speedlink USB Joystick
Enchanted Land is a particularly interesting game in that it marks the entry of demo group The Care Bears into the world of game development. Published by Thalion (who housed a number of demo groups having been founded by demo sceners though I’m not sure how deep this connection runs) – the general goal of the demo scene for those unaware was to push the ST to its absolute limits with parallax effects, samples, wibbly text, smooth animation and scrolling and of course, an absurd number of colours on screen at once.
Now there is some variety of plot about some MacGuffin being shattered into 100 pieces and you have to collect it or the world will turn into a turnip or I don’t know I fell asleep half way through it. What this amounts to is 5 levels of platforming in which for each level you must find all the pieces of magic to open the door at the end to the next level. Before going to the next level you will first need to defeat a guardian, usually a massive sprite doing ridiculous damage with some weak spot somewhere. A white flash indicates when you’ve hit a vulnerable spot.
Anyway, to the game. It opens with a gorgeous use of the ST’s sound chip as it draws some rain drops and drops in the Thalion logo, before embarking on some stunning parallax-scrolling and excessive-number-of-colours stuff in a demo showing your chap running along in the game world under his own steam. Sadly that’s the last we see of the parallax scrolling – in-game the vertical scrolling is of course wonderfully smooth but horizontally it moves in jerks which is a disappointment after that intro. Musically it’s really really good and shows that you can actually get some really cool sounds out of the ST’s sound chip if you give it a bit of a shove.
The game looks pretty good in motion. Animation is smooth, the art style is lovely, and the music is pretty good. That scrolling is poor, but functional enough and I’ve enjoyed enough single-screen and flip-screen games not to let that get in the way. However, as pretty as it is, it’s also incredibly shallow with so much cheap death. It’s just hard in a lazy way. Honestly I could find bugger all in the way of actual fun in this – too many enemies that had horrible movement patterns and took 50 shots to kill. Too many blind jumps. Too many jumps to tiny platforms under attack from too many creatures. It’s a shockingly poor game frankly.
The Amiga port is fairly lazy – the music is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it still has the poor scrolling of the ST version.
So I did my best with Enchanted Land, I really did. It’s very pretty, the art style is lovely and the music is great. Unfortunately, for some reason the game just doesn’t click for me, to the extent that I found myself not particularly wanting to make a video for it. It’s a triumph of style over substance that lets itself down by promising fast scrolling and tonnes of parallax but then not even delivering proper scrolling. In short, it’s pretty vacant.