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Bob Bates' last game for Infocom before he founded Legend Entertainment is interactive fiction at its best. As Infocom's last IF, the game also featured their best parser ever (too bad it was never to see the light of day again). One mode shows you a graphic of your area. Another gives you an onscreen map, a third shows you your character's development, another constantly shows you a description of your area, and another gives you a constant report on your inventory. And best of all, you can change modes without expending a turn.
The plot is familiar but well executed. As future king of England, you as young Arthur must prove your worth for the magical sword Excalibur. There are many innovative puzzles that involve transforming yourself into various animals, and guidance from Merlin is always close at hand.
One of the best things about the game is the incredible atmosphere it creates-- Bates went through great pains (or joy, as he definitely enjoyed making this game) to make you feel as if you are truly in Arthurian England: the "Ole English" writing is top notch, and characters well-defined and believable. With dozens of location, a good mix of traditional puzzles and "timed" ones (i.e. you must solve it in a number of moves), and strong Arthurian atmosphere that reflects a lot of research, Arthur is an underrated masterpiece. Be sure to download the beautiful "Book of Hours" which was originally included in the game box-- you'll need that for your adventure.
Arthur: The Quest for Exalibur is a game in which you can find out all about the myth. Assuming that everyone knows the myth, here's a small reminder: Arthur was a man who was the first one who was able to pull the sword Exalibur out of a rock. Exalibur is a sword which, in the myth about Arthur, carries these words:
WHOSO PULLETH OUT THIS SWORD OF THIS STONE, IS RIGHTWISE KINGBORN OF ALL ENGLAND
This way Arthur became King Arthur! And that's exactly where this game takes off. You, the small, unexperienced Arthur, are informed about your quest by Merlin, the magician and you start in front of the rock, with Exalibur in it! You try to pull out this sword, but then you hear Merlins words echoing in your mind:
"The time is not yet, Arthur..."
And here your quest begins, you hide behind a gravestone and you see a couple of soldiers load the rock WITH the sword onto a wagon. They take it away, you fall asleep. When you wake the king is there in front of the church, he rises his sword and... that seems like it's Exalibur, or at least an exact copy of it! He talks about angels and rocks disappearing into the sky yada yada yada... And he challenges the people who want to fight him to do so! From now on you will have to find out what you are gonna do yourself, cuz I am not gonna say a thing anymore...
*After much begging and crying and whatever you do to get people tell you more*
Ok, because you can't even do something like this right, I will give you another hint, visit all places inside the village, try to take as much as you can and get out of the city and try to get to as much places as you can find and you will discover more and more about how to play this game.
*After more begging etc.*
OK, this is the last hint I will give you, try to read signs when you pass by them, cuz maybe the signs are WARNING signs!
A fine game, good graphics, good gameplay, maybe sometimes a bit confusing, but it's sure that this is a fine game! One thing: I haven't heard any sounds, so I assume that this game is sound-less.
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Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur screenshot
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