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Retro Game Review: Aztec

Paul Stephenson, author of the popular “Swashbuckler”, has once again distinguished himself with the release of AZTEC. Aztec combines real-time animation with fast arcade action and the puzzles of a good fantasy role-playing game. The object of the game is to recover a golden idol from the recesses of an ancient Aztec temple. As you search for the idol, you will have the dubious honour of battling the various denizen of this temple including tigers, dinosaurs, spiders, alligators and others.

In addition, an assortment of deadly traps must also be overcome, in the true spirit of “Raiders of The Lost Ark”. If you are lucky, you may find a machete, a gun or even some dynamite hidden amongst the debris which litters the temple. But remember, even if you should find the idol, you must still escape to claim your reward. The temple consists of eight levels, each containing eight separate rooms and each room, in turn, containing three floors which are simultaneously visible. The game is reminiscent of Muse Software’s Castle Wolfenstein, except for the fact that the Aztec maze is shown from a cut-away view, whereas Castle Wolfenstein is shown from an overhead view. You need not fear getting bored with the same old maze, as the temple configuration is chosen randomly from 32 possible combinations.

There are eight levels of play available to the player to insure that the game will remain a challenge. The hero’s movements are controlled by the keyboard; a joystick would be inadequate. You can make him walk, run, jump, kneel, stop, turn around, climb, place dynamite or fight with either a

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machete or a revolver. The graphics are among the best that are now available on the market. Each creature moves with such fluid animation that they seem at times to be alive. What results from these excellent graphics is non-stop action which will make many games appear obsolete by comparison. After playing Aztec a few times, you can easily become addicted.

Aztec has, however, a few minor flaws. The graphics routines will upon occasion leave ‘garbage’ on the screen. In addition, the documentation provided with the game is adequate but far from clearly written. I had to play several times before I realized that you must kneel twice before placing dynamite. These minor faults seldom affect play, but you should not, for example, run into the next room just after lighting a stick of dynamite. When Aztec’s few faults are balanced against some of the best action graphics and general designs now available, the latter definitely win hands down.

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