Thanatos (video game)
|Distribution||Compact audio cassette|
Thanatos is an action game published by Durell Software in 1986 for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. Thanatos was written by Mike Richardson, with music by Julian Breeze and title screen art by Jane Richardson.
The player adopts the role of a dragon, Thanatos the Destroyer, who must rescue a sorceress, Eros, from imprisonment by an evil Lord of the underworld. Once she is recovered from the first castle, Thanatos must take her across the sea to find her spellbook, then carry her to a cauldron so she can complete a spell which will bring enlightenment to the land.
Thanatos has two resources: Flame and Heart. Flame is expended by breathing fire. This attack is required to burn down the gate of the castle and may be used to burn foreground objects – rocks, knights, horses, soldiers and different dangerous animals (other dragons, huge spiders, giant sea snakes, birds, etc.). Flame may be recovered by eating witches, who may be found tied between stakes, though some knight could still set an ambush nearby. Heart is depleted as Thanatos is attacked by soldiers, knights, big animals and rockfalls - this results in quicker heartbeat and may finally cause an infarction. Heart is also spent when flying too fast for too long. Heart level may be recovered by landing and walking slowly or staying still without being injured. Thanatos may also attack enemies by picking up an object in his claw and dropping them from a height - rocks and most of enemies can be caught this way, even giant sea snakes. Thanatos opens his grasp when flying low - either ready to land or ready to catch something - and can catch an object if flying at a convenient height.
Once Eros is rescued, she clings to Thanatos's neck, and rapidly turning may cause her to fall off. This is generally as well, for Thanatos can usually land near to wait for her climbing back - most of his enemies do not pay attention to her. But there are several special cases, which Thanatos should avoid at all cost: dropping Eros over the sea, for she would drown immediately; dropping Eros inside or even near a spider-infested cave, for she would be killed by a crawling spider, if Thanatos were not to land and take her away immediately; accidentally killing Eros himself, either by burning her (instant death) or catching her with the claw (the game will continue until the next landing, for there is no safe way to put an object back on the ground without crushing it). Do not take her for a soldier, she constantly waves her hands, drawing Thanatos' attention. If either of the two dies, the game ends, stating a reason why it is impossible to continue and complete it. The game ends in victory if the Thanatos carried Eros safely to her spellbook and then landed with her near the cauldron.
Thanatos was critically acclaimed. The ZX Spectrum version was Popular Computing Weekly's "Pick of the Week", received a "CRASH Smash" accolade from CRASH, a "Megagame" award from Your Sinclair, 4 out of 5 stars from Sinclair User, and 8 out of 10 from Computer & Video Games.
The size of the protagonist was highlighted in these reviews, the dragon sprite taking up a third of length of the display. On the animation of the dragon Jim Douglas commented that "the graphics really come into their own when you see the dragon flying over the landscape. The wings flap with superbly convincing swooshing sound effects, and the dragon waves his head around too."; CRASH said "The movement of the main dragon is very smooth and realistic"; C&VG found that Thanatos "is a big, nicely animated character who performs neat turns and landings on request." The parallax scrolling background was also praised, as was the overall atmosphere and satisfaction of controlling a traditionally villainous creature.
- "SAS Dragon in Nuclear Microchip Horror!". CRASH (Newsfield) (32): 96. September 1986.
- "Fantastic Adventure". Computing Weekly 5 (43): 44–45. October 1986.
- "Thanatos Review". CRASH (Newsfield) (35): 152–153. December 1986.
- "Thanatos Review". Your Sinclair (Sportscene Specialist Press) (13): 85. December 1986.
- Jim Douglas (December 1986). "Arcade Review: Thanatos". Sinclair User (EMAP) (57). "Thanatos is entirely original. The you-as-Dragon role reversal offers scope for lots of fun. Torching things and so on. Fine stuff."
- "Thanatos Review". Computer & Video Games (63): 21. January 1987.