Developer/Publisher:  Microprose
Year Released:  1994

Review by Gordon Aplin (February, 1998)
dsphere.jpgFirst released way back in 1994, Dragonsphere is an excellent fantasy adventure similar in style to Sierra's King's Quest series. The graphics are very good for its time, though of course, dated by today's standards. Shortly after this game was released Microprose announced that it was to cease producing adventure games which, as well as being a slight to all adventure fans, is a shame as Dragonsphere showed they were quite capable of making a quality adventure. Still, all that is history.

Impending doom
The introduction recounts the events of twenty years earlier when the evil sorcerer Sanwe was imprisoned in his tower by Ner-Tom, the Court Wizard. Sanwe vows to have his revenge and Ner-Tom knows his spell will not last forever so he creates the Dragonsphere, a crystal globe that represents the trapped sorcerer. While the globe is whole the kingdom is safe.

Twenty years on and you, Callash, have recently been crowned King of Gran Callahack upon your father's death and the Dragonsphere is starting to crack. Ner-Tom has mysteriously disappeared and you must journey to Sanwe's tower to confront the sorcerer before he fully regains all of his powers.

Dragonsphere is a third-person perspective adventure and you control the actions of Callash as he sets out to put things right within his kingdom. In the course of your journey you will meet the rather annoying faeries, the despised shapeshifters and the mysterious Soptus Ecliptus whose language you will need to learn before you are able to communicate. As the story unfolds you discover that all is not as it seems and there is quite a twist to the plot which I will not reveal here.

Problem solving
In the best adventuring tradition you must explore your surroundings carefully, talk to other characters and acquire many items to help you overcome the many and varied obstacles to your progress. The puzzles are fun and at times quite complex in that you may need to travel back and forth to various locations and solve other problems before you can get what you need. Your quest is a perilous one so you can die a lot, but the game automatically restores you to the point where you made your mistake so that you can immediately resume your progress.

The interface is similar to that used in the earlier Microprose adventure, Rex Nebular, and allows you to build a command from a verb list that appears at the bottom of the screen along with your inventory. Some inventory items also have a verb list allowing you to try out different actions with a particular object, and you can also combine certain items to create a new one. This, too, adds to the complexity of the puzzles and gives you much more control over your character's actions.

Dragonsphere has text throughout and the CD version also has voices for the characters, though the voice acting is a little wooden. I liked the way graphics and text combined in this game to provide a more detailed description of your surroundings or of a particular object. The game also has two difficulty settings, 'novice' and 'challenging' so I can recommend it to all fans of fantasy adventure, although I have a feeling it may be quite hard to find. Just remember this is a DOS game and you may have to tweak your config.sys and autoexec.bat files to get it to run as it requires 575k of free conventional memory and EMS. Oh the joys of DOS, I'd almost forgotten the delights of bringing home a new game then spending a whole day just trying to get it to work!

See the Dragonsphere walkthrough. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1998. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
386 (486 recommended) 2MB RAM, DOS 5.0 or higher, CD ROM, soundcard and mouse. Requires 575k free conventional memory and EMS.