Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Hillsfar
Hillsfar's in a mountain of trouble. The malevolent merchant-mage Maalthir and his dreaded Red Plume Guards rule the city with an iron fist. In this unstable climate, fortune and glory are yours if you use your wits and skills.
Hillsfar by FCI is an ambitious and intriguing NES role-play game that carries a full bag of arcade style action. Unfortunately, the load's a little too heavy.
Hillsfar's RPG features are strong. There are three main storylines with slight variations according to your adventurer's characteristics.
This is a single character adventure, but you can create up to seven different characters. The character building feature is simple to use but extensive. You choose from five races (Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, and Human), seven moral alignments, and four Guild Classes (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief). Next you "roll" ratings for Experience Level, maximum Hit Points, and seven character attributes.
RPG at the Arcades
Hillsfar doesn't feature RPG monster bashing. Instead, it showcases an impressive array of game play and playing perspectives. You shlep around massive Hillsfar via a 3/4 overhead-view city map. To journey to 13 outlying locations you take a side-view horizontally- scrolling horseback ride, where you leap obstacles as pesky hawks and hidden bowmen ambush you. At the forward- view, Target Range, you try to master Slings, Daggers, Darts, and Archery. In Arena Combat, you go one-on-one, toe- to-toe against fantasy fighters. You also cruise Pubs to conduct text-based interrogation of the locals.
- Jump two to three horse lengths away from obstacles. Hit Down to duck the bird.
- For higher scores at Tana's Shooting Range, hit the mouse.
The key action, however, is breaking and entering into buildings and treasure chests. These 3/4 overhead view scenes are mazes, where you crack open chests to find gold and other goodies and elude the Red Plumes.
Picking locks is imaginative and fun. On screen you see an extreme close up side view of the lock's tumblers. You must quickly connect the correct lock picks from a set of 20 to the tumblers before time runs out. Fail and you're stung with a HP-sapping dart or doused with sleeping gas. Heavy-handed thieves will break their picks.
- If you select "Pick a lock with a small object", your best bet is to punch A like crazy. Don't stop until time runs out.
- Repair lock picks at the Thieves Guild, if you're a Thief. It's near the Mage's Tower in the town's southeast corner.
Lost in the Hills
Hillsfar's action smorgasbord is great, but its sluggish controls will drive you mad. Sometimes you must mash the controller. This is particularly annoying in places where you normally expect quick response time—horse riding, arena combat and overhead runs from the Red Plumes.
The graphics are small but decent. However, the animation's pokey, even for an 8-bit RPG. For example, in the overhead city map, movement is painstakingly choppy and imprecise. The sounds are minimal.
Far Freaking Out
This is a tough call. Hillsfar is a great concept that trips on execution. Eight-bit RPG nuts will definitely enjoy the captivating quests, but only adventurers with extremely patient and forgiving natures need take to the Hills.
Download Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Hillsfar
In this third in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons series players face an adventure that's a combination of arcade action and RPG. You create your own human and monster characters and try to conquer the city's ruthless ruler by battling it out with armed guards and nasty mythical beasts.