Developed by Creative Reality and published by Martech in 1987, Sláine is another attempt to bring a popular 2000AD comic character to life in a video game, and it is unfortunately another failed experiment.
And it really is an experiment – with the control system, which is called REFLEX, and involves using the joystick to click on words that zoom in and out of the screen, to issue commands in real time. This is supposed to simulate the thoughts entering (and exiting) Sláine‘s head, but in my opinion it is an annoying and unnecessarily clumsy way of controlling the main character. When you click on a command the results of your actions are shown as still images and text boxes in a graphical display panel; sort of like an animatic playing-out the story.
For some reason the Amstrad version’s screen layout is different to the Commodore 64 and Spectrum versions. The REFLEX command words box has been split in two and now resides at the top of the screen; the location description is in the bottom left, and the graphic display panel is in the bottom right. Some of the REFLEX commands are different to the other versions too, which makes the game even more confusing. In fact the Amstrad version is subtly different to the Spectrum and C64 versions in terms of items, locations and commands, and it really needn’t be. Why the developers did this, I don’t know. I really struggled to get anywhere in this version and hated playing it – especially after playing the other two versions.
Unfortunately for a text-based adventure the game has awful spelling errors (“faithfull“, instead of “faithful“; “diggger” instead of “digger“, “to much” instead of “too much“; to name but a few), and hideous grammatical mistakes (“There is 05 villagers” made my toes curl), which indicates to me that the designers/programmers were not too hot with their English language skills. They were obviously far too focused on their precious REFLEX system to even work out that their game wasn’t fun to play…
I spent a couple of days playing all three versions of Sláine recently and by the end of it I was drained. Using the REFLEX system to play this game is utterly tiresome.
Of the three versions of Sláine available I think the Amstrad version is by far the worst. It’s frustrating, headache-inducing, and a diabolical waste of a great license. It’s one of the worst Amstrad games I’ve ever played. Honestly: I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy…
See also: 2000AD Special.
More: Sláine on Moby Games