From the Vaults: Crusaders of Khazan review   2 comments

Tunnels & Trolls:

Crusaders of Khazan

New World Computing

Version: IBM PC  ($49.95)

Sound/Music: 5

Graphics: 7

Playability: 9

Overall: 8

Originally a nonelectronic board game published by Chaosium, one of the most famous role-playing games has finally reached the computer.  The box reads: “Orcs and trolls hunt the fields of men . . . as  you begin your quest to find the wizard king.  This description presents nothing new for fantasy role-playing software.  But despite the similarity of title and some overlap of play mechanics, New World Computing’s Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan shouldn’t be confused with Dungeons & Dragons.  The game’s ease of play and unique atmosphere more than make up for its superficial similarities to any other game.

The main strength of Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan lies in its menu-driven play.  Like everything else in the game, character generation is quick and uncomplicated.  Players may be warriors or wizards or rogues, who have limited skills of both.  If the initial characters die or prove inferior, the towns of Phoron and the Dragon Continent are brimming with pregenerated personalities ready to take their  place.  A pleasant touch is the addition of graphics to the character status, showing what armor and equipment is readied.

Combat occurs on a special tactical display complete with quicksand, water, trees, and other obstacles.  Players act in order of their speed ratings and have the unusual martial arts option of pushing, which often knocks opponents unconscious.  The designers made good use of artificial intelligence in the game.  All the computer-controlled foes fight more intelligently than in most games and capitalize on player mistakes.

Some of the creators of the original Tunnels & Trolls worked on the computer version.  They managed to give Lerotra’hh’s domain and the free city-states a sense of logic and subtlety not found in many other games.  Each location reflects the Death Goddess’ influence, not only in the availability of goods and services, but also in the citizens’ culture and moods.  Some act morosely while others have become militant in their paranoia.  Encountered individuals do not make forced, elaborate speeches.  They talk—that is, when characters understand their languages.  Opponents are more often malicious or spiteful than “evil.”

The interface seems primitive today. It seemed pretty cool back in 1990.

Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan does not have an elaborate musical score or an allegory-laden scenario.  But it’s an extremely playable game with atmospheric detail long missing from the genre.

–David S. Moskowitz

This review appeared on pp. 95-96 in a magazine called VIDEOGAMES & COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT with a June 1991 copyright date on it.

It amazes me how sloppy reviewers can be in their credits.  Tunnels & Trolls was never a board game—no boards are involved—it was always pure role-playing.  In addition, the original publisher was Flying Buffalo, Inc., not Chaosium.  The city of Phoron mentioned first is an island, not a city.  The city is called Gull and was the creation of Michael Stackpole. However, the reviewer does at least note that that the cultural feel of the game is more “realistic” than most of the cfrpgs of the time.  He notes that some of the game’s original designers were involved in its creation.  That comment is semi-true.  The world and most of the cities along with the basic game rules were mine, but the story was completely written by Liz Danforth.  The original programming was done in Japan, and New World had to do some clever reprogramming to make the game work in the U.S.  It should be  noted that the T & T computer game was released in Japan before it made it to the United States, and got much better reviews and coverage over there than it ever got over here.

If reviewers have ever butchered your computer game, or perhaps if you’ve ever reviewed a computer game, you could leave some comments here.


Posted April 4, 2012 by atroll in Uncategorized

2 responses to “From the Vaults: Crusaders of Khazan review

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  1. I really liked this game and wish someone updated (or at least ported it over) it. I played this game in 1998, some 8 years after it’s release and found it fascinating. Back then, there weren’t too many things being written for T&T; anything I found that was T&T, I was fascinated by it. 🙂 Anyway, I can’t remember the details, but didn’t this game have a bug in it that gave you too much money? Fun stuff.

    • Myself and a friend did a whole lot of work reverse engineering the original game a few years back, and the result is viewable in comparison images I posted at a blog I created for it here:

      It never really got much further then that since I got distracted by reality (aka, the chaos of changing jobs) around the time of the last post, and I was stuck trying to work out how they encoded and rendered the indoor maps. There was some trick to it, since the same “tile number” used for one particular tile image on one map (eg, one of the Gull ones), was used to show a different one on another (eg, in Khazan)… but only a geek like me would probably enjoy knowing the quirks of the system. 🙂

      Honestly it would be nice if I could get my hands on the original source code; it’ll be completely useless as anything other then something to reference from (since there’s no way you could just compile it as it is nowadays, a large chunk of it would probably have been written in assembler for speed), but it’d answer a whole lot of hard questions really quickly!

      Oh, and in relation to this quote above: “Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan does not have an elaborate musical score or an allegory-laden scenario.” you may be amused to know that the Japanese, Sharp x68k version actually had music! One piece of it! That played incessantly! And drove you *completely* insane within a few minutes! Yeah… not the brightest idea. 😛

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