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DescriptionBased on the Disney movie of the same name, The Black Cauldron focuses on the story of Taran, who is an assistant Pig-keeper in the land of Caer Dalben. One day Taran notices that one of his pigs, Hen Wen has magical powers. The Evil Horned King wants the pig so that he can locate the Black Cauldron and ultimately rule the world. Taran must now embark on a mission to rescue Hen Wen and defeat the Evil Horned King before he can discover the Cauldron's location.
The Black Cauldron is a side-view adventure game. Gameplay is similar to other Sierra adventure games of its day (such as Space Quest II or King's Quest III) but does not use a text parser. Instead the function keys are used to initiate actions. Players control Taran and can make him walk, run, swim and interact (talk) with other characters in the game. Puzzle-solving and advancement in the plot requires item manipulation of using the right item at the right time or at the right location.
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Alternate pathsThis was one of the first graphical animated adventures to provide true multiple paths through a game. There was the basic route that adhered to the plot of the movie, but completing that route would not net you a full score. The game actually rewarded players more, who tried different paths through the game, such as taking Hen Wen to the Fairy realm under the lake. To get a maximum score in the game you had to take these alternate paths. This encouraged players to think for themselves and be creative, instead of copying the movie storyline. Additionally it meant the game had great replayability because there were many solutions to a lot of the puzzles.
BooksThat this game is based on the Disney movie with the same name may be obvious, but the movie it self is based on a series of fantasy books by writer Lloyd Alexander set in the magical land of Prydain.
The first book of the series was released in 1964 and is called The Book of Three. This is the exact title of the book that Dalben is reading when you enter his cottage at the start of the game.
The other books of the series are:
Code DecryptionThe infamous sierra name of "Avis Durgan" appears in the code for this game as well: it is the key for the code encryption.
EngineThe Black Cauldron was the only Sierra game to be developed in three generations of Sierra's game system, As AGI v1 (a booter disk), AGI v2 and AGI v3.
Freeware releaseThe Black Cauldron is now available to download from Al Lowe's website.
ReferencesThe Black Cauldron features a reference (shameless plug) for another then-current Sierra adventure title, a practice that had already become common by then.
To see this one, walk Taran repeatedly into the east wall of the room where Fflewddur makes his brief appearance. At a certain spot he'll discover a crack in the wall and peek through, finding somebody on the other side playing King's Quest 3: To Heir Is Human.
RemakesAs of 2000, this is the second most remade Sierra title next to King's Quest.
Information also contributed by Anthony Bull, Gerauchertes, jeff leyda, Roedie, Terrence Bosky and Yakumo
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Donny K. (426) added The Black Cauldron (DOS) on Aug 10, 1999