- Machine: Nintendo
Although stores are glutted with warrior-fights-evil-forces-to-save-the-world games, soft-ware companies keep churning them out. And why not? It's a successful and age-old formula. The basic idea appears in everything from the ancient tales of King Arthur to the modern Star Wars movies.
The best of these videogames share a few common ingredients: many colorful adversaries, multiple levels of difficulty, a lone champion of chivalry, and something or someone (usually a beautiful princess) to be rescued from doom.
Sword Master has all of the above. Although it won't win any prizes for originality, it's still a good-quality game. Activision obviously put some care into its creation. The graphics are sharp and colorful, and the action is smooth-scrolling. Characters move gracefully across the screen and during combat.
Sword Master also gives you a break from the overwhelming odds usually confronted in fighting games, matching you instead against creatures one-on-one. It's refreshing to be able to concentrate on one foe at a time. Nor does the game ask you to solve any puzzles or break any codes. It's a combat mission and nothing more.
The only twist in Sword Master is its clever use of magic. By pushing the Select button, you can done the Cloak of Might and transform yourself into a sorcerer. This allows you to spell-cast your enemy into oblivion. However, since magic burns up more energy and experience than the more conventional methods of combat, you should wear the magic cloak only when you really have to.
Enemy creatures have different strengths and weaknesses, many of which are outlined in the game's instruction manual. Along with these descriptions is a long list of valuable strategy hints. The action continues through seven levels and ends with a fight against Vishok the serpent god, the game's greatest challenge.
If you're a weary veteran of sword-and-sorcerer games, there isn't much here that will surprise you. But if you've never played this type of game, Sword Master is a fine example on which to cut your teeth. It's also good gaming for those who just can't get enough of this kind of action.
Download Sword Master
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- P-200, 32 MB RAM
In Sword Master, an NES action/adventure game from Activision, you use might and magic to battle your way through seven levels of intense combat against Vishok, the serpent God. At first, all you have is a sword, but later you can develop the powerful magic skills of a wizard.
Two to Tangle
Sword Master forces you to develop a split personality. You can be the Sword Master or the Wizard and the trick is learning when to switch between the two.
As the Sword Master, you only have three methods of attack -- slash up, swing right, and chop down. To destroy your opponents, you must string the moves together in different patterns. Unfortunately because there are only three moves, the sword fighting gets repetitious early on. Just the same, the animation is smooth and clear with just the barest hint of flicker.
If you survive the early sword fighting, you earn a Magic Staff that enables you to transform yourself into the Wizard in an impressive flash of graphic glory. As the Wiz you turn in your sword for a magic flame. However, you might as well be holding a match, the flame travels a very short distance, so it's almost useless. Luckily, you can pick up additional spells during your quest, so your wizardly skills become much more potent.
ProTip: The Wizard is most useful against the tall Blue Ogre. If you duck and keep tiring, it'll never touch you.
Mind Thy Enemies
Sword Master is a real monster show. You'll face all sorts of weird monstrosities from killer wolves to fire-breathing Zillasaurs.
Every time you successfully defeat one of Vishok's minions, you receive experience points. Save 'em or spend 'em. By saving them, you can eventually increase the length of your health gauge. As the Wizard you can spend them to cast more powerful spells. And you'll need every edge you can find. Some of the creatures here are EXTREMELY difficult to defeat, real blood boilers.
To avoid the Invincible Eyes, jump up and bump them with your back. You'll take some damage, but they'll fly away.
Charge the Level Three boss, but kill him quickly or he'll regenerate his hit points.
On the Level Graphics
Although Sword Master really makes you a feast for the beasts, at least it's a feast for your eyes, too. The graphics are razor sharp and the somewhat dark colors maintain the ominous mood of the game without being too murky. Each level has a unique look and feel, with multiple levels of scrolling that make every scene intense. Slick animation gives each character a real 3-D look. The sounds complement the graphics perfectly to really pull you into the Sword Master world.
In Level Four be careful on the ledges. You need to stand on the very tip of them to make some jumps. (Don't go too far!)
The Final Cut
Sword Master's a cut above most hack and slash adventures, and you can interpret that two ways. The graphics and the sounds are dynamite, but the challenge is a knock out. The fact that you only get five lives to complete the game, makes it a practically impossible quest. The title says it all: Sword Master is for sword masters!
Hear ye, hear ye! Most fearless knights, art thou prepared to don tine swords, step back in time, and face one of the greatest medieval challenges known to humankind? If so, then step forward and you shall be granted the opportunity to partake in Activision's new high action adventure challenge, Sword Master. Seven in-depth, multi-scrolling levels enable you to get up close and personal with some fine fiends, including the Deadly Blue Knight, the Emerald Dragon, sword-toting skeletons, gargoyles, and even the dreaded Zillasaur. With a strategically placed swipe of your sword, or perhaps a quick zap of some good old-fashioned, medieval magic, you'll be celebrating victory in no time.
"Innovative" isn't a word that's been used to describe a lot of recent video games lately. Take Sword Master, for example. It's as generic as its title implies, offering nothing new to ideas that have been done often--and better--in the not-so-distant past.
The game play is appropriately accompanied by a cookie-cutter scenario: You are a mighty warrior returning from crusading in the Borderlands to your home kingdom of Eledar. To your dismay, you discover that the kingdom has been taken over by the evil Fire Mage and the Serpent god, Vishok. Princess Aria has been kidnapped and is being held in a castle dungeon. King Aragon has asked you to save his daughter and vanquish all evil from Eledar. After all, "You are the Sword Master... YOU MUST NOT FAIL!" the instructions emphasize. Hey, no problem. Sword Master is one of those side-view perspective fighting contests that horizontally scrolls to the right. Your player is armed with a sword. Despite wearing bulky armor, he can kneel, jump in the air and raise his shield in defense--what an agile guy! Besides Vishok and the Fire Mage you must deal with wizards, knights, skeletons, dinosaurs, wolves, bats and even leaping lizards!
Magic potions may be picked up after they are dropped by defeated baddies. These can give you the ability to shoot an energy ball, a bomb, lightning rod or fire ball. Using these powers isn't free. A certain amount of "experience points" are spent each time you use them. These points are gained by slashing at enemies.
A bar indicates the well-being of your character. It lowers when he gets struck and increases by a few points whenever a potion is taken from a slain enemy--you get the picture. One of these bars also shows up to represent an enemy's status. When your health bar empties, the game ends, yet up to five game continues are available. Yippee.
Though scrolling fighting games are quite common, most attempt to outdo competitors by utilizing elaborate background graphics and larger-sized onscreen characters. Sword Master doesn't. Characters are only a bit bigger than in earlier efforts, and enemy heavies aren't all that menacing. The montage that visually narrates the game's background situation is finely illustrated. But it's still pretty standard-looking stuff and is only shown at the game's title. The backgrounds to the game screens are each so subdued that they tend to be unidentifiable on their own.
Sound effects are just as weak. Fallen enemies meet an ungracious demise accompanied by what sounds like a match being scratched along the back of a matchbook. Your warrior character grunts and groans with every sword swing, thanks to the wonders of gratuitously implemented digitized voice technology. Just as lifeless is the crunching effect he produces with every jump. The clash of sword upon sword or shield is as dramatic as a pin falling onto a glass tabletop. Playing this game isn't necessarily a horrible experience--but it's likely to instill a sense of deja vu, inducing flashbacks to times of enjoying similar yet better-produced NES titles. Along with its anemic graphics and dinky sound/music, Sword Master, overall, is a rather tired gaming experience.