Curse of the Azure Bonds

aka: Curse of the Azure Bonds: A Forgotten Realms Fantasy Role-Playing Epic, Vol. II
Moby ID: 503
DOS Specs
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Description official description

Outside of the town of Tilverton, the party of heroes has been ambushed, captured and cursed with five azure markings called "bonds". These bonds have dangerous magical powers that can take control of the heroes at the most inopportune times. They must now search for the source of the bonds, and free themselves from the curse.

The second in the Gold Box series of role-playing games, Curse of the Azure Bonds is a sequel to Pool of Radiance. The gameplay is nearly identical to that of the predecessor and other Gold Box games. Following the D&D / AD&D rules of role-playing, the player creates a party of characters (up to the maximum of six). Two new character classes (Paladin and Ranger) are added to the four basic AD&D classes Fighter, Thief, Mage, and Cleric, which were available in Pool of Radiance. Exploration takes place in pseudo-3D environments, from first-person view. Battles (random as well as pre-set) take the player-controlled and enemy party to a top-down battle screen. Commands are issued in turn-based fashion, and the player-controlled characters can freely navigate the battle field. There is also an overview "world map" that allows instant traveling between cities.

Spellings

  • カース・オブ・アジュア・ボンド - Japanese spelling

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

30 People · View all

Game Creation
  • SSI Special Projects Group
Project Leader
Programming
Graphics / Artwork
Music
Sound Effects
Playtesting
Project Manager
Development
Additional Playtesting
Documentation
Customized Apple Disk Operating System
Art, Graphic Design and DTP
  • Louis Saekow Design
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 55 ratings with 3 reviews)

A superb sequel to Pool of Radiance

The Good
I'm biased about this game, I loved the book and I loved the game. Azure Bonds is a sequel to Pool of Radiance and the second game in the fabled Gold Box series from SSI.

Based on the book of the same name, you play an adventurer who has been branded with azure coloured bonds (tattoo's) on your arms which are used to control you and compell you to do various misdeeds. Your aim is to remove those bonds and become free.

Unlike the book, you dont play the heroine, Alias with her sidekick Dragonbait. (They do however, cameo later in the game).

Many events in the game parallel those in the book.

It is based on the same game engine as Pool of Radiance but with all the tweaks required to vastly improve game play, such as having your spellcasters automatically learn heal spells to cast on you, instead of you having to manually forgetting your currently learned spell set, learning heal spells, then re-learning your old spell set again, which was in POR, an absolute chore regarding gameplay. And you will need to use this magical 'Fix' command in camp many many times.

Small tweaks to the engine like this made Azure Bonds that much more playable than its predecessor.

There is a nice (limited) amount of side quests you can go on, in order to build up experiance and see other parts of the game (eg: Mulmaster Beholder Corps.)

The combat engine is tweaked, the auto-AI is still pretty poor, but the option to 'Quick' the combat is very useful.

On the graphic side of things, its still EGA but they are a marked improvement over POR. The EGA graphics in POR were very flat looking, Azure Bonds has much more gradiated/shaded colouring.

There is also a much wider variety of monsters and more interesting ones like Drow! Even Drow weaponry and items follows the AD&D rules, of being destroyed in the sun.

Mapping the game is easy (If you look around on the internet, you can find my solution with full and complete ASCII maps) as it is nowhere as complex as say any of the Bards Tale's games.

You can also cheat to an extent by trading characters bewteen Pool of Radiance, Hillsfar and Azure Bonds and back.

The Bad
I liked the idea behind Pool of Radiance, where you get a list of different quests that are available on the council notice board, but unlike por, Azure Bonds follows a more traditional branch with a set quest, you do however, get the choice of which 'bond' you want to try and remove, but new characters will not survive going straight to the end run.

Being a sequel, and an RPG, this means your stat levels get extended. And its where one of the fundamental problems with the Gold Box series comes into play, by the end of CAB, your characters are far too powerfull! Sure, that doesnt sound bad to you but it imbalances the game, and means all future games have to allow for your powerful characters. (One reason why the next game, Secret of the Silver Blades, knocked your characters back down to ground level)

Music and Sound effects are minimal through out the game, well music is but the effects trudge along. Would be interesting to hear it on a tandy/pcj, if the music used the extra voices or not. But the pc-speaker effects are terrible.

The Bottom Line
This is my favourite of the 'old' EGA gold box games.

DOS · by Yakumo (430) · 2000

satisfying adventure

The Good
There are many complex stories involved in this game based upon a novel! The extra non essential quests such as battling the Mulmaster Beholder Corp are quite a surprise (use dust of disappearance) This game format paved the way for many AD&D games such as those in the Dragonlance world of KRYNN etc. This game was actually the sequel to Pool of Radiance but with many things ironed out for a superior game play. This game was the first RPG I ever played and inspired me to play & read many fantasy games & novels! Ive played it many times over as a youth and never got tired of playing it!

The Bad
Some dungeons were easy to get lost in with limited mapping options in the game. Saving games became very strategic because it was only "safe" to camp in certain locations to rest and memorize spells etc. It was a pity that the Dark Elven weapons and armor disintegrated when you returned to the surface from the caverns because they were light and very powerful!

The Bottom Line
A good introductory game to the world of Advanced Dungeons & Dragon (Forgotten Realms) and to all role playing fantasy adventure games in general. A classic for its time!

Commodore 64 · by Timothy Palmer (4) · 2006

My first AD&D Game - From the paper and pencil, to the TV cartoon, to the game...a kid's dream come true.

The Good
Well I still haven't played the legendary Pool of Radiance, the predecessor of this game yet (plan to in the near future), but what ever the game is like it must be great as Curse of the Azure Bonds as one of the first games I've played, like any first game someone plays, sticks with you in your soul and never lets go.

Curse of the Azure Bonds like a part of a long history of AD&D computer based games, specifically part of the Forgotten Realms Epic (the other being the Dragon Lance Epic). Before I get to the Curse of the Azure Bonds, I'd like to share my knowledge of the difference between the two epics.

Both epics are based on the AD&D Novels. Dragonlance is probably more familiar as it is centralized to the journey of certain heroes and their quest. Forgotten realms is a more complicated and unfocused set of stories. Both occur in different worlds, but in some sense still use the same system. Dragonlance has a more complex system than Forgotten Realms: Dragonlance has more specific races (different types of Elves, Dwarfs and the Kender) as well as the unique Knight class. Dragonlance also introduces different Gods of worship, more direct impact or consequence in alignments of which also limit different specialization in spells.

Forgotten Realms in comparison can be called as the more 'general' AD&D system. Hardly any limitations compared to Dragonlance. One might say easier, others also might say less irritating.

O.K. Back to Azure Bonds.

The story is very simple, basically means you know what's your supposed to do, at least. The only problem is how to do it. Thankfully, the story is already set so basically what ever you do won't impact the overall story. Other AD&D games are irritating in that area. So basically its up to you where you want to go first, how you want to handle it. Either way you end up where you should be and should feel stressed about the possibilities of handling a situation wrong. No right, no wrong, just another way.

The mapping system used by Curse of Azure Bonds (don't recall if other AD&D used the same approach) was later adopted by Realms of Arkania: Startrail and other RPG's.

The Bad
As much as I like this game, I must admit the AD&D concept is pretty much irritating...and this is not limited to the game...here are some I noticed:

  • The character system is a sexist system and discriminated system revolving around the "Human Male" character. Other sexes and races are inferior. Female characters receive devastating strength points. Race bonuses don't mean much as in practice, high levels, class and spells replace it any way.
  • Alignment in AD&D games are practically useless. Not quite sure what it's for either, as most of the story strongly suggest a more 'lawful good' approach, even if all your characters are evil. Then again I could be wrong...though I doubt it.
  • Shops and Money are practically have no value. Most shops sell the same thing that you don't need - standard gear. Money is abundant...too abundant. There are certain situations where you find certain coinage that have particularly no use what so ever and only burdens your weight.
  • 60-70% of spells in AD&D are practically useless, unless the story creates a certain situation for it to be useful. If not, its usually revolves around Fireball, Lighting Bolt, Hold Person, etc. Most Druid spells are a joke.
  • Human change class is an irritating concept. You just can't get the perfect character with this approach...
  • Too many random monsters. AD&D is a game that never seems to run out of monsters. Any AD&D game player knows that sometimes you just can't rest and fix your party. Very irritating.

    **The Bottom Line**
    Well it took me more than 5 years to finally finish this game, due to some problems near the end game. Obviously a must if you want to experience the full Forgotten Realms Epic. Though, honestly I wouldn't advise it as a 'stand alone' game...unless you are already familiar with AD&D.
  • DOS · by Indra was here (20755) · 2002

    Trivia

    Cover art

    The game box's cover features a painting by artist Clyde Caldwell, entitled Azure Bonds, earlier used as the front cover to the 1988 novel of the same name and the 1989 RPG module Curse of the Azure Bonds (FRC2).

    Inspiration

    This game is based on the bestselling book of the same name from TSR (1988). Many of the Non-Player Characters (NPCs) that may join your party in the adventure are originally from the said novel written by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb.

    The three NPCs that may join your cause are: * Alias, a female human fighter - which can be seen in the front cover of both the box and the book. She's the main character of the novel, also cursed by the strange Azure Bonds. * Dragonbait, a male Sauron Paladin standing beside Alias, both in the front cover of the box and the book. He's practically her bodyguard also cursed by the strange Azure Bonds. He communicates by omitting smells - which may seem puzzling in the game if you haven't read the novel. * Last but not least, Akabar, the merchant-mage. A human merchant turned hero-mage.

    Alias and Dragonbait will join you together but only in a limited area, which also goes for Akabar in another place.

    Other main characters like the Nameless One and the Halfing Bard do not join you as NPCs, but are still seen in the game.

    Remake

    The entire game has been recreated as a Neverwinter Nights' module by Sarion the Wise. You can find links to modules archives through the related links.

    Silver Swan cult

    If you have a female character in your group, in the game she can join the Drow's Silver Swan cult.
    If you use that character in the sequel: the Secret of the Silver Blades, that character will still be recognized as a Silver Swan member.

    Awards

    • Power Play
      • Issue 01/1990 - Best Role Playing Game in 1989

    Information also contributed by Indra was here, Pseudo_Intellectual, and Sciere.

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    Contributors to this Entry

    Game added by Tony Van.

    Commodore 64, Amiga added by Rebound Boy. Macintosh added by Andy Voss. Atari ST, PC-98, Apple II added by Terok Nor.

    Additional contributors: Yakumo, Indra was here, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, ZeTomes, 64er.

    Game added December 1, 1999. Last modified March 27, 2024.