Kingdom o’ Magic

10Badly rendered graphics and some comedic flair.

Not since Monty Python spoofed themselves in the off-kilter Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time has there been a computer program with such a twisted and distinctively British sense of humor. Kingdom O’ Magic is a quirky adventure filled with dark humor and takes players on a wild ride through a mystical and often nonsensical journey through a strange fantastic world.

At the start of the game, players can play as either the male lizard hero, Thidney, or the buxom vixen, Shah-ron, then choose from one of three different quests in the Kingdom. Trying to complete the quests means traveling throughout the land, visiting 105 different locations and meeting dozens of demented characters, including a sadistic granny, an unforgiving, stone-faced Gorgon, and same pretty unhappy gingerbread men.

Your choice of character determines how you’ll solve the puzzles you encounter; Thidney may solve a particular problem by beating some poor guy’s head into the dirt, while Shah-ron might distract that same person by luring him into an alley. Even if you repeatedly choose the same character, the game promises never to be the same adventure twice, as characters interact with one another, get into fights, and offer a wealth of different responses based on how you approach them.

20Still, as funny as it is, Kingdom does have its failings. The graphics aren’t impressive, with blocky edges and unsubtle colors for many of the backgrounds and characters. Basically, if you’re looking for a more twisted version of LucasArts’ Full Throttle, this is not it. The wit is here, but the visual quality isn’t. Another shortcoming lies in the game’s role-playing element. Most of the time, you’ll progress as you would in a graphic adventure — but you’ll also have to watch your health level, build up spell-casting points, and accumulate gold. Unfortunately, these aspects feel tacked on and unnecessary.

Then there’s the combat system, a frustrating real-time affair. Players will find themselves reliving fight scenes repeatedly because they didn’t right-click the mouse at the proper moment and the enemy was able to deal a fatal blow. And be warned, fights are not something you can plan for. Enemies will jump you at any time, any place. So save early, and save often. Whether players wish to overlook the more mediocre aspects of the game for the humor is their choice. At the end of the day, it’s not impossible to do so.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, DOS

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