Yes, that title certainly does sound like a Sierra effort, doesn’t it (they would sneak the word "quest" in several of their titles
)? But no, Arthur
was the third-to-last title produced by Infocom before it’s takeover and ultimate demise by Activision in 1989.
Like the other final titles from Infocom, Arthur
made an effort to integrate graphics into the interactive fiction experience. To that end, the results are quite pleasing. Designed by Bob Bates from his Challenge, Inc. development studio, the second title of two by Bates as a third-party developer for Infocom.
By this time, Infocom had stopped rating the difficulty of its games. Introduced in 1984 and abandoned in 1987, games were rated as one of the following:
As Infocom sales began to suffer, rating the games was likely deemed as limiting sales with certain consumers so the practice was dropped.
Regardless, many believe that had Arthur been rated it probably would have fallen into the Standard level. The text parser is excellent, and the story is an interesting take on the old legends.
You are Arthur in the story, and are just a boy. You use Merlin as a source of hints for the game as well as learning bits of useful magic. To that end, the game is a story that stands on its own as being rather unique, and doesn’t stick to the old legends too strictly.
Another nice piece offered in the game is the optional auto-map (I used it quite a bit) and compass. This allows for much faster navigation through the quite large world. I did still need to copy the map to paper so that I could label the various “squares” (e.g. Tavern, Meadow, Churchyard, etc.). You can toggle between Map (F2) and Graphics (F1). The other function keys also serve a purpose: Inventory (F3), Score (F4), Room Description (F5), Text-only (F6) for the hard-core IF fans.
The puzzles aren’t “mean” and the overall flow is quite good.
In terms of “feelies” in the box, all this game really offered was a “Book of Hours” which included a poem in a light attempt at copy protection.
The poem is as follows:
No worthier warrior was before
Lot became Lord of all the land:
with sword so sharp and shield that shines...
proud Paladin beyond reproach.
He husbands heavy chests of treasure,
the envy of every earl and king.
His soul is stirred by precious stones and silver,
and gleaming gold which daily he doth gather.
No king so fair
by maid begot
was ever there
than good King Lot.
Back of the Box:
"Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone, is rightwise king born of all England."
In the days before Camelot, when magic and evil rule England, a sword sheathed in stone appears in a quiet churchyard. Engraved upon it are the words which form your destiny. For you are Arthur, the son and true heir of the High King, Uther Pendragon.
But there is more to asserting your claim than wresting free the sword. The sword in the stone disappears -- stolen by the evil King Lot. To win it back, you must develop the kingly qualities of wisdom, chivalry, and experience, qualities that will also prove you worthy of the throne. And you must do it all within three days, or Lot will usurp your legacy.
You are assisted by Merlin the Enchanter, who grants you the power to transform yourself into a variety of animals. Now you can explore the kingdom as no one has before: from the sky, from rivers and lakes, from on -- and under -- the earth. How you use this power, and how you solve the myriad puzzles that confront you, will determine your success in your quest.
- Merlin's crystal ball reveals helpful hints.
- The undo command lets you rescin even the most foolhardy of decisions.
- Optional on-screen mapping gives your quest direction.
- A medieval Book of Hours has been magically cast into each and every Arthur package, along with the game disk and complete instructions.
Now prepare to claim your birthright as king born of all England. It's your chance to live the legend.