Battlemaster

a game by Nick Pelling, Mirrorsoft, and Arena

Platform: Sega GenesisGenesis

Genres: Action, Adventure/RPG, Shooting Games

Battlemaster

**Thousands of generations ago, the Four Lords of Creation shaped a magical world from the random elements of time and space. They created life and an Age of Peace. **

When the time of the Lords passed on, the world turned, and it became divided among four ambitious and corrupt races. The Age of Conflict had begun. Now, the Watcher is here. No one knows from where the Watcher came, but he has withdrawn all Magic until a hero arises to unify the land.

A world in need awaits its hero.

A Fighting Fantasy

Battlemaster from Arena Software tells an interesting tale and backs it up with a solid combination of role play game (RPG) style adventure and hack-n-slash action. Toss into the mix good-looking graphics and the fact that you can control up to 15 characters in follow-the-leader style combat and you've got a quest game that's tough to beat, in more ways than one.

Your task is to snatch the crowns from the kings of the four races and then carry them to the Watcher. Of course, first you have to find the kings and beat just about every creature and being in the game.

Set aside a few hours -- or days. This epic adventure treks across a massive fantasy landscape. The action occurs in seven areas, where you explore several locales such as villages, towns, castles, or wilderness.

The Leader's Edge

To begin the game, you choose a Leader from one of sixteen characters representing the races - Dwarves, Elves, Men, or Orcs. Potential Leaders also fall into four character classes, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, and Merchant. The varietal selection really ups the game's re-playability factor.

Leaders start with varying numbers of Troops (0-5) and Gold Pieces (0-100) and three types of weapons - armor, a hand weapon, and a shooting weapon such as a bow or a magic wand.

ProTips:

  • Everyone hates Orcs. If you play an Orc, expect no peace.
  • Dwarves stick together the best, and they regroup very quickly.

Later on, you can add Troops, build-up Gold, and upgrade weapons.

  • Wizards make good Leaders for first-time players. They carry the most powerful starting armaments, and they have three members in their party.
  • Leaders are the fastest runners in the land, but just barely.

In Your Interface

The interface is easy to use and great looking. You put your Troops through their paces using overhead, 45-degree-view graphics. The main action occurs in a window that occupies more than two-thirds of the TV screen. The rest of the screen contains smaller windows displaying meters that monitor Health Points, Morale, and Skill levels, a War Chest which shows weapons and food, a Bank to tally Gold Pieces, and a radar Map, which displays blips indicating you in relation to those-who-would-waste-you.

You split just about equal time between action and interface. You use the action screen to rip-off Gold Pieces and to fight. Fighting's based on a Health Meter system, that is, get hit and the meter drops till you do.

Troops start firing when enemies are near, even if you can't see them, yet.

The fighting's tame but intense fun. Don't expect prodigious finger-pumpin'. You control the Leader's hand-to-hand fighting and fire his shooting weapon. Your Troops follow your lead, but they do their own dirty work. Every battle is a melee, that is, a wild tree for all, particularly if you command a large Troop. There's no ducking or dodging, although you can move the Leader around to avoid blows during fights.

The Leader's shooting weapon always has the longest range. Use it.

Before, during, and after the fighting you can retreat to the Interface Screen. Use the Parle feature to purchase better weapons, food, Troops, or safe passage through a territory with Gold Pieces.

Always Parte as soon as you appear somewhere. As soon as you grab something or suck something, you can't Parte.

Use Formation to quickly organize your Troops into six marching and/or combat formations -- Column, Wedge, shoulder-to-shoulder Line, Single File, Huddle, and an anything-goes Open Formation. In each Formation, Troops move in unison with the Leader. You can also command your Troops from the front or the rear of a Formation and leave them for solo explorations.

  • Huddle Formation is the best way to hold Troops together. Leading from the rear is a good way to "herd" Troops through narrow passages.
  • There's safety (and eventual victory) in numbers. Take time to round-up stray Troops.

Mucho Monsters

Four races populate the Battlemaster world, but they aren't the only creatures that live here. The Book of Monsters in the manual describes sixteen horrific species, but there's plenty more than that. The toothy, round Ball Servants, the Ghost Eyes, and the Scorpions are notable pains. It's best to run from massive bugs, spiders, and the angry dragon.

Ye Оldе Graphics

For the most part, Battlemaster's graphics are slick. Each race has a distinct look and some monsters are genuinely weird. The opening story sequences and the Leader selection screen are knock-outs.

The animation's alright, but it's a touch slow -- your troops are in no hurry. The laid-back pace of the characters adds to the time it takes to play the game as much as the complexity of the quest and the enormity of the environment. Another minor complaint is that the "olde" English style type for the message window and particularly for some letters in the 70-character passwords can be hard to read.

Be sure to distinguish between Z's and 3's when you record passwords.

The Thrill of Battle

Battlemaster is an epic adventure game of epic proportions. Trying to combine engaging RPG with satisfying hack-n-slash action is the current rage, and Arena's made a worthy attempt. If it takes more than a massive dose of thumb sweat to satisfy your need for adventure, do battle with Battlemaster.

Battlemaster Downloads

Sega Genesis Battlemaster download

Choose from 16 different characters and lead your troops into battle. Your armies can assume 18 different formations and each character can follow orders independently!

reggie posted a review

Another computer conversion from Electronic Arts. Assemble your party and head out on your weapon upgrades to help you win the battles.

reggie posted a review

This game is a very interesting adventure game. You are given the opportunity to feel yourself a medieval warrior fighting vicious monsters which will definitely raise your skills in sword fight... The game combines tactical strategy, action and RPG. In the beginning you are offered to choose your race and class. At first this game seems to be RPG. But no! Look, everybody, except for the warrior has soldiers. You may choose their construction, but pathfiding is really poor so it is better to play as a warrior. In all the motto of this game could be: "The Choice in all!". It is possible to choose any race, even a beast human; it is possible to choose your way on the map. Fighting is not mandatory; it is possible to pay money for a safe pass. I didn't like the fact that my hero is not allowed to upgrade. So the only way to improve him is better equipment. But in general the world is big; there are many foes and ways to solve problems, so you won’t feel bored. Only take the soldier.

reggie posted a review
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