CONAN: HALL OF VOLTA / Datasoft / Apple II
 
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Hall of Volta has the distinction of being the first-ever Conan game, tied in with the release of the second movie (Conan the Destroyer). It has nothing to do with that movie at all, however, and actually may have been originally developed as a different game called Visgoth before Datasoft secured the Conan license and pasted him on in there. Would explain why Conan looks like a lancer on the title screen and is mysteriously in full armor at the end of the game.

Anyway, this was ported to several other computers of the time, but from what I've read all the ports have some problem or another, so this original Apple II release is apparently the one to get.

There's not a lot of point unless you're really big on Apple II games, however. Relative to the time, the gameplay is actually not half bad, but it's a primitive action-platformer from the very beginnings of the genre in 1984. The game consists of seven one-screen levels, padded out by the latter half being a major pain in the ass. There's a bit of a puzzle-ish element to them, as the screen is divided up into various segments that all have their own little thing going on, and you usually have to look them over and tackle them in the right order (i.e. get a key from one part, then use a portal in another part to get to the locked door, etc.)

The play control is actually pretty decent when it works, but it does like to flake at critical moments, the worst being when jumping. You never know when you'll clip some invisible terrain box that extends too far out from the object it's covering and cut off your jump. The slow boomerang-sword is also a poor tool to take on the highly mobile enemies, especially the erratic flying ones.

The maze-like levels packed onto one screen are a clever use of limited disk space (since they apparently splooged the entire side of one disk on the title screen animation sequence), and some of them are fairly fun. The price of this, however, is squishy low-detail graphics that don't let you fully enjoy the unique death animations Conan gets for falling to various obstacles. Conan's somersault-jump is also impressively animated for the time and feels surprisingly modern for such an old game, but the boomerang sword concept is a lacking weapon and could have really used some more work. Far from a terrible game, but one that's a little too rough and limited to come back to.
 
 
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