Realm of Impossibility
|Realm of Impossibility|
Ariolasoft UK Ltd
|Platform(s)||Atari 8-bit (original)
Apple II, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
|Mode(s)||Single player, Two player|
Realm of Impossibility is a computer game created by Mike Edwards for the Atari 8-bit family and published by Electronic Arts in 1984. It was ported to the Apple II, and Commodore 64, then later to the ZX Spectrum in 1985 and published by Ariolasoft UK Ltd. The game was originally released in 1983 as Zombies for the Atari 8-bit computers and published by BRAM, Inc., a company formed by Edwards and his friend. It was the second Atari game from the company, the first being Attack at EP-CYG-4.
The game is a dungeon crawl in which the player can traverse through 13 dungeons of various complexity in order to gather seven crowns to defeat the evil cleric "Wistrik". Each dungeon comprises up to a dozen separate rooms, with the game moving from one to another when the player moves onto a number of defined door areas. The player had to navigate through the rooms to find the treasure, either a crown or a key that provided access to a formerly locked dungeon. They then had to retrace their steps to exit the dungeon.
The rooms normally contained zombies, snakes, spiders and other various beasts. The game's enemies could not be killed, but were generally stupid, simply running directly at the player. Careful timing and positioning could trap them in locations where they could no longer reach you. The player could also drop crosses by pressing the joystick fire button. These acted as obstacles to the monsters, and were dropped in opportune locations to block pursuit. The player could drop up to a dozen of these in their wake and they would disappear slowly over time, allowing the pursuit to continue.
The player could collect scrolls in the maze that allowed them to cast the following spells:
- Freeze: would hold a monster in place for a short duration
- Protect: made the player immune to damage for a time
- Confuse: would send the monster off wandering in a daze for a while
The spells were cast by pressing the first letter of the name on the keyboard, F for Freeze for instance.
One of the more exciting aspects of the game allowed cooperative play on the same screen with another player. This gave rise to numerous strategies as the players tried to outwit the monsters together, as the monsters attempted to approach the nearest target. It also doubled the total number of crosses onscreen, allowing more complex blocking strategies. Both players had to reach the edge of the screen to cause it to move to the next screen.
Edwards worked at Boeing and programmed for them for some time. When his job changed and he was no longer programming at work, he became interested in the home computer market as a way to continue programming. Checking over various models at a local computer store, he purchased an Atari after seeing Star Raiders. After having the machine for a while he began programming on it, and at the suggestion of a long time friend, wrote a simple program in Atari BASIC to sell locally as a tax dodge.
He then began programming his first game, Attack at EP-CYG-4, a relatively simple sidescroller with the added feature of allowing two players at once. This was licensed to another company for sale on game cartridge, with Edwards helping with the port. He then began work on a maze game, which became Zombies after adding in 3D effects at the prompting of his partner. The game contained several levels, of increasing complexity. The last level, "The Realm of Impossibility", contained a number of optical illusions similar to those popularized by artist M. C. Escher. Surfaces that appear vertical turn out to be horizontal, and other illusions can confuse the player.
The success of the original release prompted Don Daglow to acquire the rights for EA. Minor changes were made to the game, new levels were added, and a new soundtrack was added, written by Dave Warhol who had worked with Daglow on the Intellivision game design team. Officially renamed Mike Edwards' Realm of Impossibility, it was released not long after the original BRAM release, with the box cover touting "Deluxe Edition of The Classic Game Zombies." The game was part of the "third wave" of titles introduced by Electronic Arts after its founding in 1982.
Reviewers favorably cited Realm of Impossibility's inventive level designs and cooperative gameplay. ROM's review started "Zombies is different!" Praising its unusual lack of weapons and use of 3-D graphics, it concluded that "you've got to see it to believe it." Antic's review of the original was more subdued, simply stating that "Computer enthusiasts who enjoy quick-paced, challenging action games will like Zombie".
Compute! called the rereleased version "a classic, run-as-fast-as-you-can, three- dimensional arcade game with a goal", noting that "What distinguishes Realm of Impossibility from the run-of-the-mill chase game is not the three dimensions, but one element: cooperation." The magazine praised the Apple II version's graphics and two-player mode. Computer Gaming World stated "I do not feel that the changes [from Zombies] are numerous-enough or significant enough to justify buying the both games. However, if you have neither, then ROI is a good addition to your arcade-action game inventory".
However, Ariolasoft's conversion of the game to the ZX Spectrum garnered extremely negative reviews. Your Sinclair critic gave it a three out of ten, describing it as an "object lesson in flickery sprites, bad control and the odd bug or three". A review in the April 1986 issue of Crash magazine scored it a 10%, calling it "one of the worst Spectrum games I've seen in a long while" and found it dated because it "could have been a passable game a couple of years ago. A joke today." The game later took third place for the magazine's 1986 readers' award for "Least Pleasing Game", garnering 4.5% of all votes.
- Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
- Ellison, Peter (February–March 1984). "Interview: Mike Edwards". ROM Magazine: 12.
- Reekie, Tim (February–March 1984). "The Raving Reviewer". ROM Magazine: 16.
- "Realm of Impossibility". Atari Mania.
- Wolford, Roy (March 1984). "Zombies". Antic.
- Williams, Michael B. (July 1987). "Realm of Impossibility". Compute!. p. 35. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Stone, David (January 1985). "Spelunker and Realm of Impossibility". Computer Gaming World. p. 33.
- Hughes, Gwyn (April 1986). "Realm of Impossibility". Your Sinclair. Issue 4, p.21. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- April 1986. "Realm of Impossibility". Crash. Issue 27, p. 31. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "The 1986 Crash Readers' Awards". Crash. Retrieved 15 September 2015.