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1 Player

Game Type


Mem. Card

Review Date

April '97

Setting the Scene

The legend of Excalibur, the magical sword known for uniting men and bringing peace to mankind. The legend is centered around King Arthur and Camelot. It was used by Urther Pendragon to make peace and declare him king, also by his son Arthur who pulled Excalibur from the stone where Urther had placed it moments before his death. Arthur used it as an icon of peace for his people by which it was greatly revered and respected. The sword now lies deep at the bottom of a still pool, somewhere in England.

A meteor was spotted by an amateur astronomer, 18 months before it was to hit earth. The impact would send such an enormous shock wave around the world, that life on the surface would be impossible. Hundreds of shafts were dug, in which small underground cities were built. Unfortunately there were many areas that were not evacuated in time, resulting in the death of millions of people.

In the three tiered, underground city of Salto some 450 years after the disaster, Delavar the leader of the Elysians, built a time transporter with the intent to steal the sword. He sent his men, the Kala, to storm Camelot with technologically superior weapons who duly returned with Excalibur in their possession.

Merlin the magician was not a happy man and concocted a spell to enable a one way time leap, which his niece Beth had reluctantly volunteered to test out.

So there you go, thrust into the future, all alone, where you must control Beth armed with her trusty sword, to seek out the magical Excalibur then return it to the time from which you came.


The object of the game is to guide Beth through the three levels of Saltro, to eventually reach the lower realm of Elysian for the final challenge to regain the sword of Excalibur. Each level is split into a number of individual zones that are jam packed with puzzles, tasks, secret rooms and differing enemies. The majority of puzzles can be solved by either collecting useful items on your travels and then trading them for information or access keys, or working out the games riddles and mysteries of which some of them can be quite complex and taxing.

You will meet many characters on your journey of which some will be more helpful than others. Enemies must be disposed of by the use of your sword, although during the game a selection of spells may be produced that may be used in combat.


First impressions will be that Excalibur looks remarkably similar to a certain strategy game named Tomb Raider, but after playing for a short while it will become fairly obvious that the graphics and camera angles have more of a Alone in the Dark look about them. Okay, there will always be comparisons made with the Eidos game. For starters you get a young maiden to hold your trusty weapon in her fair hands. Now Beth is no pin-up, but then cosmetics were not readily available in the middle ages (well actually she is a bit of a pig if truth be known, so don't expect to see topless shots of her on the Net). You also get to use the shoulder buttons to zoom in, zoom out and survey the immediate area, always providing the best possible view.

Excalibur has some tremendous lighting effects which help show off the varied and individual levels. The torches that are fixed to the walls throughout the Crypt level light up the open play area while casting shadows to the alcoves and darkness in the doorways. The Trappings level has many brightly lit areas packed with glowing teleporters before moving onto the damp and dingy confines of the Sewers. Each area is highly detailed with most of the rooms having an individual appearance that acts as a reminder of your whereabouts.

The friendly folk and enemies that you come across are a mixed variation of polygon characters. Each of the people that you may interact with are well animated but their movement is reduced to a slight swaying as they provide helpful information to aid your quest. The enemies are also extremely well animated with the zombies in the sewers worthy of a mention and would not look out of place in the excellent Resident Evil. However they appear to attack you in freeze frames therefore the battles become a matter of timing with a block, strike, strike, block routine disposing of them fairly easily and this slow methodical approach looses that element of realism. I must also mention that when you slice your sword into the bones of a skeleton it actually bleeds????

Sounds and Effects

Each person that you will interact with has a voice that will bring across their character allowing you decide whether to trust them or not. Most of the enemies remain silent during their attacks apart from the odd groan as you slice your blade through their midriff. Our Beth doesn't have a great deal to say throughout the game but if you leave her stationary for a short time she will chirp up with "Ooh, cum' on" in an English cockney accent.

The music that accompanies the action is fitting, although it tends to disappear into the background as you concentrate on the tasks in hand.


The controls are easy enough to allow you to simply pick up and play Excalibur. The directional pad is used to move Beth around the level while the face buttons allow you to interact, run and use items that you hold. When confronted by an enemy you must press the right shoulder buttons to enter fight mode. This will change the use of the face buttons to allow Beth to attack or block off your enemies attack.

Walking up to an item and pressing your interact button will make Beth bend down to pick up the object and place it into the inventory for storage. You will need to enter the inventory menu to select an item that you wish to use or combine it with another to create a spell. This is also the section where you may study the map of each level.

The initial loading times are rather long but at least the whole area will be loaded in at one time. If you walk up to a door then it will automatically open (unless a key is required), then entering will only take a second before the new room is revealed. This is much preferred to the excessively long in-game loading that appears in so many titles.

On each level you will be given a number of tasks that will involve the items that can be found scattered around the area. For example, during one of the early levels an injured young man will ask you for a medikit, near him you will find an empty glass. In the next room a dodgy character will offer you a key in exchange for some booze. Later in the level you will chat to a bar tender who will exchange your empty glass for a bottle of beer, therefore you must back track to trade the booze for the key. The key opens the door where a tramp holds the medikit, but he will only give it to you if you find his pet rat. Now the damn rat was seen on the other side of the level, so you set off to find the rat, that gets the medikit, that takes you all the way back to the start of the level to cure the young man. Get the idea.

Now all this sounds like their is a lot of running backwards and forwards over old territory, well there is but this does not really drive you insane for two reasons. First, the puzzles are intelligent enough to give you a great amount of satisfaction when the light bulb finally shines, and secondly the larger levels at least have the sense to include teleporters that speed up the backtracking.

I must say that Excalibur should be bought for the puzzle element as the fighting scenes can be quite boring. There are no combination moves and more importantly no speed, as the battles are very methodical and extremely slow. Multiple enemies can attack you in one room but unfortunately they will line up and challenge you one at a time, which reminded me of the old Batman series when the odds were usually 10 against 2 but the turn based fighting would always result in a victory for the Dynamic Duo. Therefore do not expect Tekken when it comes to the fighting scenes.

The game is brightened up by the inclusion of a selection of spells which are gained by first finding a page from your spell book that will be hidden within the level. This will inform you of the ingredients that must be joined together in your inventory combination box. Simply mixing the items together will provide a magical power that will aid your progress through the game.

Beth begins each level with a full heath bar which is displayed as a sword at the top of the screen. As you sustain injuries through fighting, the sword will begin to fade from the tip downwards and if her health reaches a critical stage then the sword will glow red as a warning. When you have no energy left she will die and the game is over therefore you must replenish her energy by collecting and eating the food and water that is scattered around each level. The completion of each level is rewarded with a password that may be used to restart from your final checkpoint.

Value for Money

Excalibur 2555 AD offers a selection of intriguing and varied challenges wrapped in a tidy graphical package. A great amount of enjoyment can be taken from this game as long as you know what you are getting into. This is not a kicky-fighty game but prefers the player to use brains rather than brawn. I just wished that the combat scenes had been either reduced or speeded up to allow the gameplay to flow a little more freely. This aside, there is plenty to admire within Excalibur to keep the average adventurer fulfilled for a number of weeks.





Now that I have completed Excalibur I can say that the gameplay is excellent. The puzzles become thought provoking and constantly comes up with fresh ideas. Don't give up during the early stages as the game does not become gripping until after half way. If only the fighting scenes had been spruced up a little bit then Excalibur would have been given a definite thumbs up. We shouldn't be too hard on this title because if it had been released before Tomb Raider then everyone would be wowing the graphics and camera angles, building it up to be a top next generation title. Never-the- less, as it stands it may not be the best game of the year but it is a long way from being the worst.











This is a good game. There is enough to keep you occupied for quite some time and apart from a few minor glitches that may have you pulling your hair out, provides enough challenge and variation between the levels to keep you coming back for more.








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