Shard of Spring
|Shard of Spring|
|Developer(s)||TX Digital Illusions|
Craig Roth |
|Platform(s)||Apple II, Commodore 64, MS-DOS|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Shard of Spring is a role-playing video game developed by TX Digital Illusions and published by Strategic Simulations for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS computers in 1986. Shard of Spring tells the story of a group of adventurers hired to retrieve the titular magical item stolen by a power-hungry evil witch. The game was generally well received upon its release and was followed by a sequel titled Demon's Winter in 1988.
The player's party in Shard of Spring can be made up of at least two human, dwarf, elf, troll or gnome adventurers, each of whom can be either a warrior or a wizard (both classes have very different set of traits to assign points to). The game's game world system is displayed in the top-down view, and the combat system for the fights (mostly random encounters) is similar to turn-based tactical war games. Its spell system is based on five elements: fire, metal, wind, ice and spirit.
For two centuries a small island of Ymros enjoyed eternal springtime thanks to the enchanted Shard of Spring, a piece of the long-lost legendary Life Stone. However, three years ago the land's peace was shattered when a mysterious Siriadne arrived to Ymros and stole the Shard. With the threat of the Shard's destruction, the selfish sorceress and her minions now extort a ruinous and ever-increasing tribute from the people of Ymros. Anyone who might put an end to her tyranny will be a hero for all time to come. The aim of the game is to gain access to Siriadne's castle (which is encircled by a magical force field) and defeat her. The player needs to kill Siriadne's chief followers Devon the Destroyer, Ralith (in Ralith's Tower) and Edrin (in Edrin's Dungeon) so the party can storm Siriadne's Fortress. Siriadne herself transforms into a dragon for the final battle. After the player's victory, the game ends in a cryptic way.
SSI sold 11,942 copies of Shard of Spring in North America. The game was generally well received upon its release. According to QuestBusters, "anyone completely burned out on the 'seek and slay' scenario should look elsewhere," but "Phantasie fans who found Wizard's Crown too complex will appreciate this one, which combines the best elements of each - easily making it SSI's best game since the original Phantasie." Scorpia of Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review in 1986, noting it as a good hack and slash type. The graphics were considered well-done, even in monochrome, but the reviewer felt leveling in the later part of the game went far too slowly. In 1993 she called Shard of Spring "a typical hack-and-slash romp" but "not bad for its type, and better than some". On the other hand, Philippa Irving in Zzap!64 criticized the game's "lacklustre" presentation (55%) and "dull" graphics 65%, but nevertheless gave Shard of Spring a high overall rating of 88%, calling it "just short of brilliant" due to its "absorbing, tantalizing, and satisfying" playability. Rick Teverbaugh of RUN also gave it a positive review, even as he opined it was not "exactly a frontrunner in the Game of the Year voting."
The game, however, did not became a classic title. In 1987, Mark Patters of Commodore User gave Shard of Spring a relatively rating of 6/10. Reviewers often compared this game to Ultima III: Exodus. According to a critical retrospective review by John Gorenfeld in Allgame, "unlike Wizard's Crown, SSI's RPG Shard of Spring has none of the company's characteristic war game detail. In fact, it feels like a low-rent version of Ultima III, with the latter's simple tactical combat, but less atmosphere." It was reported that the game had a balance problem in which the players would receive too few experience points for their victories; this problem was fixed in the sequel.
A follow-up to Shard of Spring was created by the same team and published by SSI in 1988. The sequel has Ymros once again threatened by evil as the players must search for spells to defeat the demon-god Malifon who has cast the world into a deep freeze. It expanded on the first game in some ways such as offering more character classes.
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- "(...) As you turn to go back into the room, you see a black bird out of the corner of your eye, moving swiftly upward. As you re-enter the room, an old man who you recognize is standing near the dead body of Siriadne. His face shows a mixture of serenity and contentment. He speaks: 'The true springtime shall now return to Ymros because of what you have done today. Your names shall be remembered as long as men exist to sing of you.' He makes some mysterious motions and everything begins to swirl about you. His voice speaks to you out of the dizziness: 'Evil is personified in the form of dragons, but borne in the hearts of men...'"
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