Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (January 2013)|
|Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse|
|Publisher(s)||Strategic Simulations Inc.|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
|Distribution||Floppy disk, CD-ROM|
Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse is an action role-playing game for the personal computer set in the Al-Qadim campaign setting of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It was developed by Cyberlore Studios and published in 1994 by Strategic Simulations, Inc. The game is a mix of role-playing game and adventure game featuring a simplified interface, where the player's character is a young corsair trying to clear his family's name while rescuing his betrothed and investigating the mystery of who has been freeing genies from their masters.
A genie has been freed from the control of his master by mysterious forces that are working to liberate more genies to place them under the control of the Nameless Masters. The player character, the son of Zubin Al-Hazrad of Zaratan, is a young corsair who has just completed his training as the story begins. His father is a sultan. The character is betrothed to the daughter of a Caliph. The Caliph and his daughter are involved in a shipwreck caused by a hurricane which sweeps the character's betrothed overboard. His family is blamed for the shipwreck, and the character is accused of being involved in the crashing of the ship. The character must find a way to restore his family's honor, and find his bride-to-be. The character can interact with his family, including his parents and sister, as he works on their behalf to save them from execution. The character must also explore the mystery of who has been unleashing genies upon the land, and investigate into the Genie's Curse.
The player is part of the Al-Hazrad family, one of the two main families in the town of Zaratan. The player returns home and quickly enters the ongoing family feud, and is then required to sign a treaty of peace with the Wassabs. Things quickly go awry shortly after the signing of the treaty, as the ship carrying the player's betrothed, the Princess and her father, is destroyed, with the survivors claiming it to be the work of a genie. The Sultan, who is later found near the beach, then incarcerates the player's family for violating the treaty, based on a vague testimony from Muliban, the family genie, who answers their questions in a cryptic manner.
Unlike the games in SSI's Gold Box series, character generation is greatly simplified. The player is given the choice of choosing a name, and is referred to by that name throughout the game. There is no process of race, class, or skill selection, and play begins immediately. The single player character begins the game as a second level corsair and his statistics are predetermined. The player does not have the ability to upgrade the character's weapons and armor. The character earns experience points by solving puzzles and finishing quests, which do not always involve combat. The character gains levels after collecting enough experience points, and gaining levels increases hit points and grants the opportunity to learn new skills for combat.
The game features a simple interface, using icon menus rather than text. Character movement and most object manipulation are directed by the mouse, although the player can use keyboard and joystick alternatives. The player chooses all actions except movement and using projectile weapons by pressing the same key or mouse button. The character automatically takes the correct action with an object when the player presses the action key or mouse button. The character either automatically picks up important objects, or is presented with the option to take the object when he looks at it. To talk to characters or attack monsters with the scimitar, the player moves the character towards the target and clicks. The player selects the difficulty level of the game, which affects how powerful the monsters are. At the start of the game, the player is trained in maneuvering the character by racing through a trap-filled dungeon hallway. The game features simple, real-time combat in which the character can use up to two weapons at a time. The character's scimitar can become more powerful with special objects that he finds, and his projectile weapon is either a sling or magic shards which can also cast spells. If the character is injured, he can restore his hit points by drinking healing potions or he can be magically healed when he visits certain special locations.
The game places a lesser emphasis on standard role-playing game elements such as extensive exploration, and complex combat and magic systems in favor of adding adventure game elements such as a greater emphasis on puzzle solving and increased object manipulation. The game featured a smaller world to explore. Travel from place to place is shown in an overhead view, and the character can travel using ships and flying carpets. The character is visible in a three-quarters view, looking down on the landscape, but the hero and monsters are shown in a side view when they move around. Exploration occurs without an automapping system, but in many areas travel is one directional. Conversations with the beings the hero meets appear as text on the screen, and the player chooses sentences or phrases by clicking on them. The game features a number of puzzles and mazes, which are critical to plot advancement.
The player can interact with various people in the game, their reactions directly linked to the nature of the player's response. Depending on how a player chooses to answer a question with various responses; such as answering in an honourable manner befitting a corsair, an unscrupulous manner akin to a villain or a simple answer based on simple ideals, the player may receive various rewards, or may suffer penalties as a result.
Various items can be obtained along the way such as gold and gems, which are interconvertible at a fixed rate. Other items such as shards, potions and oils of elemental immunity, can also be obtained in shops, or throughout the players journey.
The player may only engage in combat with hostile creatures or combat zones, and may do so by using either a sword for melee, or magic and slingshot for ranged combat. The player obtains various shards throughout the game, and only two weapons, namely the family sword, and a sling given by the player's sister as a wedding gift.
The player's stats increase provided the player has earned enough XP and the player can also increase attack strength by means of a combo system, which can be increased twice by visiting a corsair and training.
Developer Cyberlore hired a team to create The Genie's Curse shortly after the company launched in 1992. It took the company fourteen months to develop the game.
The game was designed by Herb Perez, the producer was Lester Humphreys, the lead programmer was Ken Grey, art was by Garrett McCarty and Herb Perez, and the SSI producer was Bret Berry.
Petra Schlunk reviewed the game for Computer Gaming World, saying it was "not a standard role-playing game and it is not a standard adventure game. Al-Qadim is a story in which we get to play the main character." While complaining of the limited choices in what to the character can do and when he can do it, Schlunk added that "the story is charming, graphically pleasing [...] of reasonable length [...] and worth "playing". In this game, elements of both role-playing and adventure games are blended cleverly with one of the most facile interfaces to date." Schlunk summed up the game: "Borrowing heavily from the Arabian Nights, Al-Qadim has captured the charm and wonder of those tales."
Computer Shopper praised the game, saying it "managed to capture the feel of the Al-Qadim setting". It noted in particular the graphics and audio, calling both "typical high-quality SSI offerings". It also commented approvingly on the game's use of honor in the game, saying it was "portrayed in a way that isn't trite".
The game was reviewed in 1994 in Dragon #208 by Sandy Petersen in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Petersen gave the game 4 out of 5 stars. He commented: "Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse is heaps of fun in an interesting and exotic environment."
According to Allen Rausch writing for GameSpy, Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse was "basically SSI's answer to Nintendo's Zelda games" but "it wasn't a very good answer". Rausch wrote that "as so often happens when a game tries to appeal to two very different audiences at the same time, neither element was entirely successful" and concluded that the game "had its moments, but it wasn't a game that ever approached the realm of 'classic'."
In a similar retrospective for GameSpot, the authors Andrew Park and Elliott Chin felt that the game may not appeal to the hardcore RPG fans, while others apprecated its gameplay geared towards accessibility.
Michael Hengst, editor for German magazine Power Play, called the combination of the 1001 Nights-style Al-Qadim setting with the action-packed gameplay of Zelda successful. Both Hengst and main tester Volker Weitz described the difficulty as low. Their overall rating was 74%.
- Rausch, Allen (2004-08-17). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part III". Game Spy. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Schlunk, Petra (1994-08-00). "Adventures in Role Playing". Computer Gaming World (121): 38–40.
- Andrew Park, Elliott Chin. "Gamespot's History of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse". GameSpot (in englisch). CNET. Archived from the original on 1999-08-26. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
- Petersen, Sandy (August 1994). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (208): 64, 66.
- Terra, John (July 1, 1994). "Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse Review". Computer Shopper. Retrieved September 20, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Bednar, Joseph (September 1, 2001). "Making the Games People Play". BusinessWest. Retrieved January 30, 2013. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Butcher, Andy (January 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane (Future Publishing) (2): 80.
- Weitz, Volker (1994-08-00). "Beim Barte des Propheten - Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse" (article scan). Power Play (08/1994): 34–35.
- Vrignaud, Andre (1997-10-24). "Postmortem: SSI's Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands". Gamasutra. UBM, plc. Retrieved 2012-12-10.