Heroes of The Lance

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a game by U.S. Gold
Platform: Amiga (1988)
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: RPGs
Heroes of The Lance
Heroes of The Lance
Heroes of The Lance
Heroes of The Lance

The package for SSI's Heroes of the Lance contains no fewer than three trade-marked names. Trumpets blare the fact that this is an "Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Computer Product" and part of the biggest licensing tie-in of the year. Then there's the title, which you already know. Finally, we are told this is "A Dragon-lance (TM) Action Game." Got all that?

The Dragonlance (TM) games theoretically stress the action and, specifically, the combat elements of the AD&D universe. The concept for this series was developed by the SSI braintrust, as were all the AD&D games, and then farmed out to independent contractors like U.S. Gold (which is, ironically, a British company), who produced this game under the direction of Laurence H. Miller.

Heroes of the Lance uses the standard trappings of fantasy role-playing games, but subordinates everything to combat and spellcasting. As a result, you get one of the most uninspired action games this side of Super Mario Brothers (TM). The party blunders about in the ruins of the temple called "Xak Tsaroth" in order to retrieve "the precious Disks of Mishakal" and accumulate "experience points," otherwise known as a good score. Although there are eight members in the party, only one is seen on-screen at a time. All eight are depicted in a series of small windows beneath the main display. When a character buys the farm, their picture is replaced by a tombstone.

Heroes of the Lance uses a straight side view of the action with characters directed by joystick or keyboard. The player's party contains eight members, each one rated for strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, and charisma. Now perhaps I'm dense, but what difference does a character's charisma make in an action game? Does an Undead back away from a character because, well gosh, he's just so darn likeable?

Heroes of the Lance must ultimately stand or fall based on its combat and, unfortunately, it falls. The combat (whether engaged via joystick or keyboard) is stiff, inadequately depicted and ultimately boring. The adventurers don't respond sharply to commands and when a blow is struck, it is difficult to tell if it even landed since most monsters show no signs of having been wounded until they actually succumb. The creators would have done much better to check out how the swordfighting was accomplished in Cinemaware's Defender of the Crown, which has a much more satisfying action-game feel.

The graphics are first-rate, however, even if the play values aren't. Each of the eight adventurers is distinctively delineated as are the numerous hostiles the party encounters, including zombies, giant spiders, trolls, wraiths and several fire-breathing dragons.

The real problem here seems to be SSI's traditional unfamiliarity with the action-game genre. One gets the feeling the publisher didn't really want a full-blooded action game.

So instead, they mucked up what should have been a slickly animated combat game by bogging it down with magic, sleep spells and charisma ratings.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Snapshots and Media

Amiga Screenshots

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