Games with an Isometric view are the staple diet of the Micros, look at titles on the C64, Amstrad 464, ZX spectrum and you will find a whole host of brilliantly devised 2.5D games, but when these games are ported to the 8-bit consoles they can fall flat, for instance: The great adventure game Knight Lore which roared its way through the C64, MSX (which coincidently is my favourite port) and in fact almost all of the micros. Got top scores left right and centre but when ported to the NES, although looking rather nice, played like a dead horse, buried for 65 years in cement… wearing a funny hat. Yes Isometric games for the NES do not seem to exist… or do they.
Solstice begins the way that most adventure games do with a Princess (Princess Eleanor) being captured by an evil Wizard (The Evil Mage Morbius) and you need to rescue her. You do this by finding the six pieces of the Magical Staff of Demnos which you will use to defeat Morbius. Now I have not defeated morbius, nore have I found all six pieces of the staff because this game is not a Sunday drive. Each room in the dungeon is a puzzle which you need to solve in order to get to the next room and then when you have solved each of these rooms you will usually pick up an item which will allow you to progress to the next part of the dungeon. You get a few lives to do this and you can pick up continues from time to time but these commodities are few and far between so be prepared for a long slog to the end. All of which doesn’t give me good link or segue to progress to the break down so here it is…
Graphics: I do enjoy the look and feel of this game and to anyone used to the isometric gaming viewpoint will get it immediately (although anyone used to traversing these 2.5D games on the micros will have to adjust themselves to using the digital direction pad as opposed to the analogue joysticks usually employed). The Main characters and reams of enemys are animated well, all the items look like what they are supposed to be and each room has a different feel/colour scheme so that you don’t get lost (if you do there is a handy map screen in game)
Sound: Classic adventure romp tunes will accompany you through the dungeon brought to you by one of the great electronic game composers Tim Folin (look him up you will find that you have Heard many many of his tunes in your gaming history).
Gameplay: This is how your gaming sessions will work. you will first play it (and enjoy it) for 10-20 mins, not get very far and turn off the console vowing to return. On your next session you will start to figure out how the puzzles work and get much further than your last session. Next time you turn on the console you will be fumbling around for your manual to see what all the potions do. From then on you will steadily progress further and further though the dungeon getting deeper and deeper in (perhaps with the odd silly mistake here and there catching you out and eventually restarting you at the beginning).
In conclusion this is an adventure yarn with as a deep and rewarding experience as even Zelda Games (Ok maybe not Zelda 2, but that is another story). With over 300 hundred rooms to keep your Ghouls ‘n Ghosts addled brain engaged for a length of time that is unheard of in the 8-bit era and some times the latest 7th/8th/9th (depending on who’s train of thought you subscribe too) generation era. If you like Puzzles, Adventure, Majik (with a ‘J’ and a ‘K’ to show how hardcore it is) and RPG’s you will love this game. If you want a quick burst of kinetic fun stick to Probotector (Contra) and seeing as I wish Probotector lasted me 5+ hours (its 1hr at the very very most) of fun I will be giving this game the highest of high review scores 5 out of 5 stars. Ok I am off to go wave my Staff upside a Mage’s skull… and then I will go and play some Solstice: The Quest for the staff of Demnos.