Shadowcaster Demo

Happy new year! There could be several updates today as it is far far too wet and windy to step out the front door and I’ve nothing on until tonight. I could use some of the time to tidy my house up but I’m not sure it’s come to that yet.

I’ve still got a handful of demos left to try. I’ll start with the Shadowcaster demo which I’ve uploaded to here. This gets its own unique level definitely making it worth playing in it’s own right.

The quest for the demo is to restore the crown of the obelisk’s brother-in-flames. This is a little cryptic but basically means put the red pyramid on the obelisk in the lava region.

I’ve got the 3 most advanced creatures available to morph into, making the early stages a breeze as I crush the hordes of skeletons that come out to stop me. Instructions are built into the game and come up at the bottom of the screen as I play which is a nice touch for a game from this era.

I’m led down a path to these walking eyeballs and have to slot an hourglass I picked up earlier into the hole behind them.

This opens up access to a watery area. Things get tougher here as I have to morph into the frogman guise to swim through the underwater caverns. With no weapons to help me out, the fish in here manage to do me a good deal of damage and I’m forced to run and recuperate. This slow health regeneration was always one of the problems in Shadowcaster, where you have to park up somewhere safe and go and do something else for 10 minutes while your hit points come back. It’s particularly slow here without the Faun to morph into, but it does give me a chance to write the post up to here while I’m waiting.

I’m not able to save so I don’t take any chances, and only go back in the water when I’m back up to full health again. I’m less sparing with my various powers this time and use them to dispose of 4 or 5 fish. I soon find myself running out of mana and I’m still being chased by more fish. Running out of mana would mean transforming back into Kirt and presumably instant death by drowning so it’s another retreat and wait.

Fifteen minutes later and in a slightly tidier room, I go back in again to clear the place out. I’d like to say that I managed it but having taken out another 3 fish, there are still two waiting for me round a corner and I don’t have the mana to take them out. I do find a fire wand which initially looks like it should help but it won’t work underwater. It’s another lengthy wait and more tidying up….

The next attempt finally does the job and I find this chain to pull which opens up the wall behind it allowing me to swim up and into the next area.

The new area is full of more tribal eyeballs which I’m invulnerable to in my granite form.

I find a shruiken along the way which is needed to take out the moving target behind this wall of fire. This allows access to a teleport taking me to the final fiery realm.

My granite man guise is still invulnerable to the larger creatures here but my task is made a little harder by the streams of lava. I have to fly over these in another form while taking some damage, then quickly swap back to kill everything off.

There haven’t been any alternate paths in the whole demo so I soon get to the end and fix the obelisk. Other than the waiting I quite enjoyed playing through this. I dare say I could have dashed through the water section easily enough if I’d known where I was going but I didn’t want to risk having to start again. My house is looking somewhat more presentable again, so it got me started on a much needed job at least. If you don’t mind a little break in the middle, the demo is an excellent one showing plenty of what the game has to offer. Less fish might have been an idea though.

QEMM & 2 Hot Games

After getting set up to run BBC games last week, I thought I ought to have a look at Chris Roberts’ other games on the system. This led to the idea of doing a longplay for Wizadore which sounded like a good idea until I realised how ferociously difficult it is. I am starting to get the hang of it but it’s a serious challenge. I may get that done by the end of the week but in the meanwhile it’s going to be more UK magazine scans as I have stacks of them lined up.

Today however, I thought I’d share an Origin compilation I found last week. I’ve never gone out of my way to pick up compilations but the only mention of it I could find on the web was a mostly blank entry on Mobygames with no scans so I had to buy it.

It’s a compilation of the floppy versions of Privateer and Shadowcaster bundled with QEMM 7 and it was released in 1993. QEMM was a memory manager for DOS which freed much of the base 640K of memory by loading drivers into higher memory. Before Windows 95, there were games where if you had the wrong combination of drivers (especially for certain CD drives) it was literally impossible to run them as you couldn’t free up enough memory. QEMM was the best choice in memory managers for years and simplified the whole process of freeing up base memory compared to the Microsoft equivalent.

To get back to the compilation, it’s got the uninspired but accurate title of QEMM & 2 hot games and comes in a box that is a fairly average size from the front but ridiculously wide from the side. As you can see from the photo it isn’t pretty. For such a large box it would have been nice to see a more attractive design as it looks like it was knocked together using clipart by someone colourblind.

The sides of the box have pictures of the side panels of the original boxes on them although their dimensions have been distorted adding to the general ugliness. The whole box is also a little flimsy for its bulk and the whole presentation gives a cheap feel to the package.

The box isn’t exactly crammed full but still includes a monster array of manuals including the full documentation for both games and the software on 3.5″ floppies. All the documentation looks to be exactly as it would be in the regular versions. In terms of content this is a great package with what were at the time brand new games, one of which is a classic. I remember what I paid for Privateer alone, so I can only assume that this compilation wasn’t cheap when new.

Whether or not that makes it rare I have no idea, but with nothing much on the web about it I thought it was worth a post. Rare or not, I can’t say it’s the most appealing item I’ve ever bought and it’s going to end up relegated to the dark corners of the collection where it is well out of sight.