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The Black Cauldron (Apple II)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Guy Chapman (1745)
Written on  :  Mar 11, 2009
Platform  :  Apple II
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

An Excellent Movie Adaptation and Sierra Game At Large.

The Good

Black Cauldron brought the beloved Sierra 3D games of yesteryear to a more "kid friendly" audience. Ironically, those "kid friendly" features were so well implemented that they became a staple for later Sierra 3D adventure games.

The Black Cauldron eliminated the need for text commands. It gives the player a list of options to work within the scene, eliminating the need for guess work. That's not to say that one can't attempt to try things, but if the player would rather point and click, then that's your prerogative.

As with other Sierra games, the graphics were a great way to showcase one's computer. The game offered a full 16 color spectrum versus so many games that merely offered the white, green, purple, brown configuration, and being based off a Disney property with Al Lowe's (yes, of "Leisure Suit Larry" fame) full access to the film's backgrounds, the game still has some classic charm to it.

The music is accurate, being cheerful or moody as the scene requires, and the characters from the book and film all make an appearance, with wonderful animation. Some join along with you and help. Others hinder.

The game also allows the option to play exactly how the movie went, but there are also ways to achieve multiple endings, and do things that the story never intended. And with Al Lowe behind the game, there are some playfully silly moments added into the game.

The Bad

There are a few arcade style elements included in the game, which are great for gaming ideas, but clunky in execution. Action scenes in these kinds of games just don't work well, coupled with a slow character, and a strict adherence to precision. Climbing the rope is a test of nerves as several moments of hanging on look like the character is bound to fall off the rope at any second.

There are also moments where a guard or the Horned King grab at Taran, looking like they are well out of reach, and the character seems to teleport into their grip. Collision seems sketchy, and it's maddening to say the least.

Additionally, play this game on a color monitor. A well-detailed game such as this deserves more than a monochromatic green screen.

The Bottom Line

As with Sierra's other 3D games, the game is a charming and wonderfully fun title with a lot of personality, attention to detail, and great animation. Players have the option to play the obscure Disney classic as the book intended, or change the story for some interesting "What if?" conclusions.

It's a shame that these games are so hard to find, and aren't going to see a rerelease possibly ever. With Activision eradicating the remnants of the old Sierra last year, games like these look to be regulated to the history books or having to resort to buying an actual old computer at an auction.

Regardless of their fate, however, these games make for great memories....