Classic Game Review: The Blade Of Black Pole

The Blade of Black pole (BB) is an illustrated fantasy game similar in format to ‘The Wizard and the Princess”. The object of BB is to recover the magical sword and return it to the altar from whence it was stolen. Rumours speak of a secret chamber near Black pole in which sword is said to lie. When the game begins you are deposited in a forest with only a money belt and some gold coins in your possession. As you get the lay of the land and attempt to fulfil your quest, you will probably come across a tavern. Here you can purchase some items that could be useful. However, you are only allowed to carry five objects in your possession at one time; so it is wise to pick and choose among the objects that are made available to you. In some cases you should drop an item as soon as it is used to allow room for another item that you might not need until late in the game.Some of my repeated starts resulted from the fact that I travelled past certain points in the game where you could not return through only to find that I had left behind a needed object. So, pick your inventory carefully. The ability to play and finish this game involves solving many puzzles before the successful conclusion. The author did not intend for this game to be solved in one evening. As in other games of this genre, mapping is another must. Accurate knowledge of where you have been and where you currently are cannot be over emphasized.When you first start the game, you make a “player’s disk” by copying the back side of the original disk. From that point on you just use the original disk to boot and then play with the copy. As you can realize this saves an awful lot of wear and tear on the disk that you bought. It is also important, as it allows new adventurers to save the game frequently. It can be very frustrating if you succumb to one of the many traps along the way and have to start over from the beginning. An improvement over previous games of this type is that you do not have to limit yourself to two word commands. The only rule you have to remember is that a verb always precedes the noun or object of the sentence. For instance you can say “moves the rock with a lever”. I thought this was great, but after awhileI found myself out of habit reverting back to the old verb-noun syndrome, i.e. move rock, get staff, etc… You can talk with the inhabitants and there is even a HINT or HELP command. I used these commands a lot even though they were usually too vague to be very helpful.One unique feature is that when you lose (get killed) or win, you are scored by the computer on how well you did. A perfect score is 500 and your score is displayed as a ratio of this 500. The less moves it takes you to complete the quest the higher the score. This adds much to the game’s potential life span. There is one aspect of these types of games that has prevented me from really enjoying them. More often than not, I get stuck on a problem that does not involve a riddle, deducing a clue, or wondering whether to go north or south. I find myself getting stuck on how to tell the computer exactly what I think should be stated to get something done or advance me closer to the end of the game. I spend more time on the trial and error of how to say a command as opposed to enjoying the other aspects of the game. I know I am in the minority, as these games are so popular, but I do wish that, for the benefit of people like me, a complete list of the games’ vocabulary would be included in the directions even if it were put in the form of some code. Then I could spend more of my time enjoying the game itself.

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