The Legend of Kyrandia, Book Three: Malcolm's Revenge
When I first heard that Malcolm was the main character in Kyrandia 3: Malcolm's Revenge I was a little dubious. How could they possibly redeem a character who had no redeeming features - except, perhaps, that he was not as boring as Brandon, erstwhile hero of Kyrandia 1? I need not have worried. From the moment Malcolm extricated himself from the rubbish dump I knew that I was going to like the irascible, old grouch.
The evil jester from the first Kyrandia game is back and he's out for revenge. Sort of. At least he is out to clear his name and have a good time along the way.
The creative team at Westwood have succeeded in producing a thoroughly entertaining game, easily the best of the trilogy so far, with a good balance of typical adventuring fare and elements thrown in for pure fun. This is one game where it really does pay to try everything, everywhere, on everyone, not because of the frustration of not knowing what else to do but just to see what reaction you get. It's also the only way to score points - meanness points, bitter points, baby sitter points, etc. Though this won't help you to keep track of your progress through the game in the usual sense, it does encourage you to try quirky actions.
The interface provides a new feature in the form of Malcolm's moodometer which allows you to choose Malcolm's attitude. As well as being entertaining this is also a very useful device. Indeed, you won't get far without using it. Just remember, sometimes it pays to be nice and always tell the truth whilst at other times an outright lie will get you what you want.
So, is the game morally irresponsible? Not at all! Well, maybe just a little, but it is all in a good cause. The game's delightfully rendered introduction reveals that, in his childhood, Malcolm's sweet-natured self suffered an unfortunate accident which allowed his bad side to dominate. The result was that Malcolm grew up to be a cantankerous, practical joker. But did he really stab King William and Queen Katherine to death? The evidence against Malcolm is damning but with your help he just might clear his name.
Your first task is to leave the kingdom of Kyrandia which is not as easy as it sounds, even though there is more than one way of doing it. As you wander around in your Jester outfit people recognise you and report you to the authorities so that you can be arrested and carted off to jail to make doilies, or eventually, to break rocks. Don't worry, and certainly don't restore your game, as these interludes are a good opportunity to have some fun and, even if you can't work out how to escape, it doesn't take long to complete your quota of prison tasks and return to the game.
After a series of convoluted adventures in other locations you eventually return to Kyrandia where you are confronted with the choice of completing the game with just your bad self or your new-found good self or you can choose to take both along for balance. Needless to say it's best to save your game at this point so that you can enjoy all the variations of the ending.
There are many things I liked about this game. The graphics, as we have come to expect in Kyrandia, are beautifully drawn and the music is suitably upbeat. The control panel is exactly that - you can speed up Malcolm's movement, adjust the volume of the music, speech, and sound effects, turn the text on or off - whatever suits your taste. There is even a helium mode so that all the characters can talk in squeaky voices and canned laughter that responds to many of your weakest lines just like in the sit-coms. The interface is very simple and easy to use, one click does all.
Newcomers to the world of Kyrandia may find the abundance of objects to discover and pick up overwhelming at first. But don't worry. You will soon learn that not all the items have a use, and if you do need a flask or a nail, for example, it won't take you too long to find one.
If I have one serious criticism of this game it is the inclusion of the gratuitous gory stabbing scene towards the end if you try to buy the knife from Herman. Even though it was completely over the top it wasn't really funny, in fact it struck a jarring note that broke the otherwise enchanting spell that had been woven up until that time. Although Westwood have included a warning screen so that you can skip the scene, human nature, being what it is, predisposes us to ignore such warnings, especially when they are made in such a jocular and tantalising fashion. Having said that, no doubt you will all hurry on to the end of the game just to see what I am going on about but, nevertheless, parents playing the game with young children are advised to watch it alone first and make up their own minds if they want their children to see it. You certainly don't need to witness the scene in order to finish the game.
That apart, Malcolm's Revenge is a delightfully entertaining and humorous game and one that I can thoroughly recommend.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1995.
All rights reserved.
CD-ROM, 386/33 or higher, 4MB RAM, 15MB hard drive space, Dos 5.0, sound card, mouse