Ambermoon

Moby ID: 10789

Description official description

Ambermoon is the second game in Thalion's never-finished Amber trilogy that was started out by Amberstar. The sequel is set more than half a century after the first game, the world of Lyramion just starting to recover from the destruction caused by the collapse of the red moon. The original protagonist is an old, dying man as the game starts out. He summons his grandchild and tells him about a vision he had, of an old friend who supposedly died more than forty years ago and warned him of a great evil rising again. He sends the youth on a quest to seek that old friend and find out what is behind that vision.

Concerning gameplay, Ambermoon is similar to its predecessor. The player initially controls only the main character, having the choice between a male and a female protagonist with several portraits each, but otherwise unable to customize them at that point. During the course of the game, additional characters may be recruited in various places in Lyramion; up to six form an active party that participates in combat. All characters can train physical attributes by specific NPCs in various towns, while some can also buy, learn, and cast offensive, supportive, and healing magic spells.

As in Amberstar, the game world is divided into two modes. Overworld travel and most house interiors are presented in 2D, while most dungeon-like and a few other areas are in first-person 3D. As opposed to the previous game with its "step-by-step" movement similar to Dungeon Master, the sequel has a real 3D engine with textured floors and ceilings. Combat initiates when the player-controlled party comes into contact with a hostile creatures; in some cases the player is given the option to avoid combat. Battles are turn-based and tactical, with characters moving on a grid. Party formation and movement plays an important role in the outcome of the battles. There are no enemies during overworld exploration, and most of them do not respawn.

The game is mostly set on the various islands comprising Lyramion. During the course of the game the player acquires various means of transportation, among those a witch's broom and a giant eagle that can carry the party across the world. Though there are many specific tasks that need to be accomplished in order to complete the game, there are also optional locations and quests. Some tasks require interaction with objects and puzzle-solving. The game features a day-and-night cycle that may affect visibility and NPC schedules. Items can get broken or worn out, requiring a repairman to fix them. Characters get tired and need to rest periodically, recovering lost hit points if the player has procured rations. Torches or lanterns can be used to illuminate dark areas.

The interface is pretty much identical to that of Amberstar; moving is done with the number pad and toggling the pad keys between movement and actions (look at, talk to, use etc) with the enter key. The same can be achieved with the mouse; left-clicking a button performs the corresponding action while right-clicking toggles movement/action modes.

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Amiga version)

14 People

RPG Editor, Story, Game Design on Lyramion and Desert Moon
Production, Game Design on Forest Moon, Graphics
Programming for Amiga and Atari ST, User Interface
3D Programming, Intro Sequence
Graphics, Portraits, 3D Dungeons
Indoor and Town Graphics
Graphics of Intro Sequence
Graphics for Special Situations
Music
Editing of Lyramion's Surface
Ingame Texts
Cover Artwork
Map, Manual Illustrations
Manual

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 82% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 18 ratings with 1 reviews)

Amiga's RPG king

The Good
Amberstar defined Thalion's RPG design concept, and its sequel Ambermoon further developed and perfected it. The two games are very similar - Ambermoon is hardly the quality leap Amberstar was to its own predecessor Dragonflight. But that is not to say that Ambermoon simply repeats everything the previous game did. It is one of those sequels that may not be innovative, but rather refine and deepen whatever was achieved beforehand.

I won't dwell on Thalion's masterful execution of a "middle ground" role-playing concept that successfully merges the high principles of Ultima with the old-fashioned joys of Might and Magic - you'll find the appropriate passage in my review of Amberstar. Here, I'll just focus on what the sequel does better.

Possibly the most noticeable change is in the atmosphere. Amberstar looked great, but Ambermoon is much heavier on the graphical front. This is particularly evident in the 3D segments. While the top-down 2D rooms and overworld are vividly drawn and convey a cozy warmth reminding us of contemporary Ultimas, the dungeons steal the show. Ambermoon was one of the first RPGs to jump on Ultima Underworld's bandwagon: its dungeons use textured 3D, not just a "fake" view still featured in most role-playing games of its period. It is not yet the full-screen revolution of Arena and King's Field, but nevertheless an impressive piece of work. Don't expect as much detail and atmosphere as in Underworld games, but be ready for some moody maze exploration that certainly beats the step-by-step movement of pseudo-3D.

Otherwise, Ambermoon is just a "bigger and badder" version of its predecessor. More detailed, diverse towns; lovingly crafted overworld with even more sense of coherence and personality than in Amberstar; wider variety of conversation topics and "special" NPCs; stronger sense of a combined party; more focus on the plot and generally better side quests; a huge amount of items, including unique story-related ones that give the game a delicious flavor of an adventure; cool transportation options including a witch's broom and an eagle; clever combat, delightful little secrets and pretty much everything that made the previous game great preserved intact, designed with love and care, imbued with the same charm and deep understanding of role-playing.

The Bad
Like Amberstar (and most other German RPGs, for that matter), Ambermoon can be seen as too methodical, too strict in its relentless challenge, and perhaps a bit too slow-paced for those who want to jump right in for hack and slash. This applies specifically to combat, which can be a serious turn-off if you insist on your dungeon exploration being uninterrupted by long-winded exchanges of blows between weak combatants, where inflicting six points of damage in five rounds is all you can initially hope for. Don't get me wrong - I loved the smart, tactical battles of Ambermoon, but it cannot be denied that the game rarely communicates a sense of power treasured by some fans of the genre: every victory is hard-earned, and you'll be struggling pretty much throughout the entire game.

More hardcore RPG acolytes may bemoan the lack of character creation and the somewhat streamlined (though by no means linear) plot advancement with relatively fixed choices of companions and perhaps less room for experimentation in party-building than in Amberstar. Also, the island setting makes it clear right in the beginning that you can't access other areas but the initial one for a while. I preferred the more open-ended approach of Amberstar, where most of the continent was available for a perilous on-foot journey right from the onset.

The Bottom Line
Thalion contributed a lot to the development of RPGs in the world, and Ambermoon is one of their finest games. Those who enjoyed their somewhat better-known Albion owe it to themselves to check out its direct spiritual predecessor. Unquestionably, it is also one of the top Amiga exclusives in any genre, and with the advancement of today's emulation scene it would be inexcusable for any RPG fan not to get acquainted with it.

Amiga · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2014

Trivia

Cancelled ports and translations

Versions for Atari ST and PC were in development, but were never released due to the demise of Thalion in 1994. The Amiga box is indeed a combined Amiga/Atari ST box, given the technical specs for the ST version and even declares the support of the Atari Falcon. Likewise, only the German version was released. Thalion finished the English version of the game, but it was never released commercially, although it has appeared on the Internet by now. The manual features nevertheless loading instructions and programming credits for a MS-DOS version.

Extras

Just like its predecessor Amberstar, the game (at least the German version of it) shipped with a poster-size map of the world it's set in and with a "rune table" that translates the normal Latin alphabet into the runic alphabet many signs in the game are written in.

Awards

  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1994 – #3 Best Game in 1993 (Readers' Vote)
    • Issue 02/1994 – Best RPG in 1993 (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by Mo and Terok Nor

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Related Sites +

  • Ambermoon for Nintendo DS (fake)
    A fake of Ambermoon for the Nintendo DS which was made as an april's joke.
  • Thalion Source
    Full text of many German tests of the game and also some trivia shown. Also on the site there are solutions for Ambermoon.
  • Thalion Webshrine
    Extensive game description, scans (map), trivia, many scanned tests and files.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 10789
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by ektoutie.

Additional contributors: Gerald MB, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST.

Game added November 30, 2003. Last modified January 25, 2024.