Solomon's Key for the NES was released in Japan on this day in 1986.

The Magic Candle: Volume 1 (DOS)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Yakumo (422)
Written on  :  Mar 20, 2000
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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Summary

An Original story and great game engine! One of the best fantasy based RPGs.

The Good

From the moment I started playing The Magic Candle, I loved it. The story was interesting, a demon trapped inside a candle that was burning down, it was more interesting than say... rescue the princess etc.

You could set the gameplay difficulty.. which is a bit of a misnomer... the difficult setting didnt make battles hard to win, nor did the easy setting make battles easy to win, they just changed the number of days your given until your 'quest' runs out... (easy mode gives you 999 days, hard mode is something like 400 days...)

The game is LOADED with mini quests. Enough to keep you going and make you miss your main objective, so you have to be selective with which quests you do.

It is also reminiscent of Ultima IV. You have to do a lot of talking to NPC's to glean information.

This game is loaded with little extra touches, and its those things that make it stand out. As an example, when your trecking through the moutains, the overhead shots will suddnely change to a side view of your party standing at a washed out bridge or ravine, whereby you have to throw a rope across (hope you got some extra ropes!)

Skills in the game were also used to good effect, the hunting skill is invaluable early in the game, since you dont have much money and food costs. Go out in the woods, camp and hunt! If your in a good spot you'll find food.. You might even find rare mushrooms too! (dont forget to mark them on your fold out map!)

Languages also come into play, you cant read dwarven runes if you havnt learnt the language, once you learn the language you learn the alphabet (and still have to hand translate the messages).

Splitting the party into smaller groups is important to game play. Some puzzles require you to interact at multiple times (much like Wasteland) and hence you must split your party up. This also comes into play when your mages need rest (lots of rest!), you can split your party up, leave the mages in the inn or camp and the rest can go off hunting. This is the kind of efficiency required to win the game.

Another interesting aspect was going into dungeons. When you found a dungeon, the screen switched from a top down tile display, to a side on display of your party and a huge dungeon vault style door wedged into the side of a mountain where you had to open the door (got the right key or magic words etc?) which then switched to a sort of top down isometric display inside the dungeon.

The game world is very large with many many people to talk to, lots and lots of towns and many dungeons. Enough to keep you engrossed for months.

The combat system can either be seen as a pro or a con. Depends if you like combat or not. It is not so combat laden that it detracts from the actual role-playing and character development, but it can be seen as a weakness in that it feels a tad underdeveloped.

Another feature of combat that I loved, when your out in the wilderness, instead of combat just happening, a skull and crossbones will light up somewhere near you, that means a hostile enemy... they may walk towards you or not, they may just wander away. But combat doesnt sneak up on you like say Bard's Tale or Pool of Radiance

A lot of information is uncovered throughout the game, enough that you will need a notebook to take it all down in and refer back to it every so often. There is lots of text and clues to remember.

To sum up; I'd highly recommend this game to anyone, even with its EGA graphics, its gameplay gameplay gameplay, and THAT's what counts.

but...

Its sequels were abysmally disappointing.

The Bad

There isnt a huuuge variety of monsters, there is enough to go around but its not up there with say, The Bard's Tale (where 1 picture represented about 10 different kinds of monster... remember that?)

You cant roll your own player character, you can only rename him, and your party must be selected from a list of 20 NPC's at the castle. These can later be changed when you make it to the secondary castle about halfway in the game, where you get another list of 20 characters.

The combat engine, appears to be a smaller cutdown tactical combat system like Wizards Crown and Pool of Radiance.

The Bottom Line

This is a top notch "utlima" style rpg, packed full of puzzles and exploration. Recommended to any fans of early Ultima games (2 to 6), Wasteland, etc. A combination of top-down and isometric adventuring. Something for everyone.