Grackon's Curse

Developer/Publisher:  Ednovation
Year Released:  1995

Review by Steve Ramsey (June, 2008)
Grackon's Curse screenshotJust because a game is wanted by collectors, doesn't mean it is any good. Logically, this must be the case, at least in part; a lousy game presumably resulted in few sales so the game disappeared quickly from shelves. It obviously isn't as simple as that, and I have no idea how many copies of Grackon's Curse were actually sold (or made) but it remains the case that it is indeed sought after and it is indeed not much good.

The evil wizard Grackon has put a curse on Castle Crondiff. Two curses actually. The first prevented the King from having an heir, but the good wizard Troda intervened and a young prince was born. Grackon was not amused, so cast the Spell of Deadly Silence which caused all in the castle to vanish and silence to descend. Troda spirited away the young prince however, who now returns much grown to try and lift the curse.

Your efforts take place inside the castle, and consist of gaining access to various rooms and items in order to track down Grackon. Small mainly self-contained puzzles are your main challenge, and whilst you can occasionally go and do something else if stumped, once you have explored all the accessible rooms it's pretty much puzzle-at-a-time from then on.

The puzzles are fairly simple, but some do have a naive charm. Clues exist to many of them, but quite a few are to be solved from first principles. An experienced gamer should be able to lift the curse in no more than a few hours, and the game is probably best played by novice or younger players.

In fact, younger players may get the most out of its fairy tale construction and its less than sophisticated presentation. There is an almost childish quality in the little loops of music, the over-acting of the character voices (you hear them but see no-one), the colourful yet simple graphics, and items such as the Seven Sacred Paints and the Key of Knowledge.

Grackon's Curse screenshotHaving said that though, Grackon's Curse is from an earlier era and by today's standards no self respecting very-youngster would pass by Pajama Sam and no not-so-youngster would pass on Nancy Drew in order to defeat Grackon. Of course, comparing games 12 years old to more latter day ones is a bit harsh, but then there isn't much one can do about that. Suffice to say that whatever its virtues in 1995, it hasn't aged well.

It plays through simple point and click with the mouse, directional arrows turning you through 90 degrees at each point, and a small array of cursors acting on hotspots to tell you whether you can interact with, or take, an item. The keyboard is used to save and to access the inventory, and 6 save game slots is probably 5 more than you will need. There are some subtitles, but not for all speech, and it did play without any glitches or bugs.

Some extra little foibles don't help it. First, it plays in one of the smallest game windows I have ever come across. Even in 640 x 480 resolution, it occupies a third of the screen at most. Then there are those actions that will kill you without you having any inkling that it might happen, and whilst they are few, they throw you back to the desktop and you have to start the game up again. Inventory management is also a bit clunky, although to be fair it's no more so than a lot of games of this age, and the ending is a bit lame, but it's certainly not Robinson Crusoe in that regard.

Overall, Grackon's Curse is less than inspiring, and whilst a boxed copy will remain a much prized part of my collection, it will not remain a memorable gaming experience. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2008. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
IBM PC or compatible - Windows 3.1, Dos 5.0, SoundBlaster compatible sound card, Super VGA video adapter, 4 MB RAM, 640 x 480 resolution, 256 colours, CD-ROM

Mac LC III - System 7, 4 MB RAM, 12-inch monitor