The Age of Heroes - A full C64 review by Hayesmaker of Psystronik's latest release!


An evil wraith has appeared and is sending its legion of the damned across the frozen wastes, mountains and sacred temples, and only you can stop them.  As descendants of the warriors of light, you must travel to the East and end the wraith and his legions for good.  The Age of Heroes is the latest C64 release from Psystronik, developed by Achim Volkers with graphics and sound from Saul Cross and Trevor Storey.

After a sweet loading screen, epic titles and a male or female warrior select screen, you drop into a side scrolling arcade adventure armed only with a sword and your tried and trusted clear screen spell.  Enemies will attack in waves from your left and right, as you move through the level swinging your sword.  My initial impression of the game was positive, there seemed to be a nice variety of enemies, and destroying them in 1 or 2 hits was satisfying. Level 2 introduced a boss battle, and there was a map screen in between with lots of locked levels dotted about.


My joy wore thin pretty quickly however, as after the few tries I needed to clear the 2nd boss, there was absolutely nothing added to the game play throughout the entire game.  The levels lacked imagination, as they all followed the same square wave pattern - start low, high bit in the middle reachable by a rope and drop down to a low bit again.  They were also terribly short. I know the developers did some work to make the game easier because of some feedback from players, but I'd have stuck to my guns and released the hard version.  I know they left a harder version unlockable by completing the game, but by that stage I'd completely lost interest in playing it again.


There are some game breaking bugs which I don't know how they didn't get picked up during testing. I would often land on the ground slightly too high to be able to hit snakes even when crouching.  Enemies would appear at random points in the landscape and run straight through you without you even taking any damage.  But none of that mattered because you could survive plenty of these hits before needing to level up and recharge your health.  The hardest part of the game appears in the form of the level 2 boss fight - as normally you'd not have much health at that point and his slow movement means returning his fire would usually miss.

The level up mechanic was pretty cool, I loved the animated effects.  But rather than have experience points, your levelling is dependent on score.  When levelling up your health bar will refill and also add some extra to your maximum health.  What annoyed me, is using magic to clear the screen doesn't award points... Nor did killing a boss.  Only melee kills against regular enemies awards you points which seems a bit weird.  So I just ignored collecting magic items or casting the clear screen spell.  The map screen was confusing, if you weren't sure which levels you'd completed there's no help here, as there's no differentiation between uncompleted levels and completed levels.

Pros
Excellent graphics and sound
Incredible packaging and artwork from Psytronik
Inspired by Rastan

Cons
Rastan on C64 was better
Way too short and uninspired Levels
Identical boss fights
Confusing map screen
Buggy gameplay

I was disappointed by this release and its homage to the 1987 Taito coin-op.  I think Rastan fans will not like this because it's not difficult.. and non Rastan fans won't like this because they don't like Rastan.

The Age of Heroes is available to pre-order now on multiple formats (Disk or Tape from Psytronik *includes digital download

Posted by hayesmaker
twitch.tv/hayesmaker64

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