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Dark Ages (DOS)

Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (40788)
Written on  :  Sep 22, 2003
Platform  :  DOS

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful

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Dull graphics and crap sound. Nice controls and great music

The Good

Well, Dark Ages was made in 1991 and it was the first of Apogee's games that made full use of the Adlib soundcard, which was used to play the game's background music. However, the Adlib was not required to enjoy the sound effects, which obviously went through the PC Speaker. The game also required at least a 286 or better to keep up with the demanding graphics and animation.

As with any Apogee game, there is a story. You're the Prince of the Great Kingdom. Unfortunately, Apogee never gave this character a name like they did in their earlier games, so I'll just call him Conan. Now, on with the story. Conan watched his father die at the hands of Garth, who sent you away to be raised as a peasant and bring undead creatures back to life to haunt the kingdom. However, by doing this, Garth made a terrible mistake by not realizing that the peasant he chose to raise Conan was once the kingdom's greatest hero, and during his absence, Conan was trained to become a warrior, and as a champion of justice, Conan must free the kingdom from the dark ages of Garth.

Dark Ages was one of the first games to have an episode structure. There are three episodes: "Prince of Destiny", "The Undead Kingdom", and "Dungeons of Doom". As usual, only the first episode was shareware and was distributed free, but the other two were only purchased by Apogee. Consisting of ten levels each, the episodes require you to collect certain items such as gold keys, masks, and apples. You must then return these items to each of the wise men to make him reveal the hidden door that leads the way out of the level. The men then transform into a bird, which is basically invincible. When you die while you carry an item, you must go back and get the item. Speaking of dying, the game gives you the option of saving and restoring your game and try the level again, but you restart at the beginning of the level, not at the point where you died.

You must also avoid birds, boulders, crabs, and people, to name just a few. If you come in contact with any of these, you'll lose one of your eight energy units, and if you'll lose all of these units, you'll die. But you can restore a unit by collecting a certain number of gold coins, and how many of these you must collect to restore a unit depends on the difficulty level you select (easy = 10 coins, medium = 20 coins, hard = 30 coins). You can also collect a rare beating heart that will restore all of your units. Furthermore, you must also avoid falling down into hazards like pits, lava, and slime, and getting hit on the head by spikes. There is even damaged blocks which when stepped on will cause it to break and land you in trouble. To help you, an energy bolt can be used to fire at enemies, and more weapons can be found by searching behind pillars. You also start with one green gem in your possession. Other gems can be found in nearly each level. If you manage to find sixteen gems in an episode, you get a laser shot, which is more effective than the energy bolt.

The game has a awesome movie-style soundtrack consisting of eight unique songs, and although each song repeats itself at least thrice, they are not boring and are enjoyable to listen to. Also, the controls are pretty simple to use: [CTRL] for jumping, and [ALT] to shoot. At times, I found that the [CTRL] key did not respond and I ended up falling into the many hazards in this game. These two key combinations are used throughout every Apogee platform game to date, making their games easy to play.

The Bad

Dull graphics. The background consists of a combination of light and dark blue (The dark blue represents the ocean?) There is grass in every episode, and some parts of it were animated, while others were not. Sound effects are crap and could have been improved.

The Bottom Line

Apart from the music, this game is crap. You'll be better of playing Apogee's classics like Cosmo and Monster Bash. **