Avalon

Scan from Spectrum Computing

Had cause to remember Avalon a day or so back and yeah, I remember the cover art/advert being a tad more imposing than it is. Plus, there’s not much to say about the nuddy fairy beyond “that’s well dodge”. Because it is well dodge.

I’m still in awe of Steve Turner all these years later and Avalon is just one of many reasons for that. It’s one of a special few games that through some exceptionally smart sleight of hand gave the impression it was so much more, so much deeper, than it was.

That’s not to underestimate how much was crammed into the thing or to do it down, on the contrary – it’s to point at the sheer skill involved in making an already pretty hefty game feel even more.

It’s a magic (yes, magic) that’s worked on so many different fronts! The wonderfully large player character, Maroc, who floats ethereally around the screen, bouncing against walls and obstacles rather than the usual few frames of walking animation. The sparse landscapes, enough to paint an image of a forest or a dungeon and to leave the rest to the imagination. That the player controls Maroc through the use of a ‘MOVE’ spell, just one of a number of spells, does wonders in selling the whole controlling a projection of Maroc lark.

It’s an especially clever design. Everything is in service to selling the whole wizard thing and it works a treat. An early fantasy exploration game that took familiar videogame parts and sewed them to create something that still feels kinda special 40 or so years later.

It’s a remarkable thing indeed and hard to believe it came so early in the lifespan of the Spectrum. 1984! Games were still in short trousers then! Ridiculous! But brilliant. Very very brilliant.