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Riders of Rohan
(Jocke the Beast)


"A Wicked Dream One Moment Too Late"

After having a strange premonition, you approach the king with a tale about Isengard you encountered in a dream. Your visions seem all too close to reality, as the king confirms your omen and sends you off to Isengard on a quest to determine just how real your fears have become.

Sooner or later you're travelling through the Troll Forest, unknown villages, and hidden passageways guarded by elves, dwarves, and other fascanating creatures and civilizations. What evil spirit lurks within Isengard, and why does it haunt your dreams? Discover the answer and you will be a legend forever known among the Riders of Rohan.

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
In the olden days of QB, an RPG with a tileish look with grass worlds, a cave world, and some villages would be enough to grab at least two points in the graphics category. But Riders of Rohan walks on that very thin line between an RPG that looks fine and RPG that looks like it still needs some polishing here and there.

On the bright side, Riders of Rohan boasts a pretty large tileset, with non-moving but nevertheless very interactive villagers and objects. There's enough variation between the different worlds that each new land feels a little fresh compared to those before. What needs work is the battle sequence though, which is almost entirely text-based except for some item icons. It would have been nice, at least, to see some enemy artwork a la Dragon Warrior.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
There's no music, but Riders of Rohan handles sound effects somewhat creatively. As you walk across the various surfaces of the game, some surfaces will trigger sound effects with each step. This way, you hear your own footsteps as you're walking through a dungeon, and you'll a different sound effect when you're walking atop the corn fields. It adds to the atmosphere and it's a real victory for Jocke the Beast.

Sound effects also help Riders of Rohan's feel during the battle sequence. Although there isn't battle music ready, the game does an excellent job of providing sound effects for your attacks as well as the attacks of your enemies.

Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vv
While there are townsfolk sprinkled here and there, much of the interaction in Riders of Rohan takes place in the central town where you begin the game. This is where you have to talk to all the villagers you see, learn about the game's plot, and stock up on items and game mechanics necessary to play the game. Afterwards, you pretty much travel in a preset to Isengard. From there, Riders of Rohan is a straightforward RPG with an emphasis on item and money management.

Original to Riders of Rohan is the importance of items in battle, since there are no magic spells in the game. Every item in the item shop is needed to survive. For example, you can't run away from battles without a blue herb. Red potions serve as a great healing source but Green herbs make a good last second substitute. Red herbs, the final item, is the most important in the game since it cures from poison. Poison is very potent in this game, so you should always have at least one or two red herbs at hand, and plenty more if you're shooting to beat the game.

There are a couple of things about Riders of Rohan that really hurt the gameplay score. First off, you can't use Inns to heal HP like most RPGs; instead, the lone inn in this game serves as the only way for you to save your quest. With a steep price of ten gold to save your game, oftentimes you'll wonder if you should stop playing and lose some money needed for supplies or spend more time playing the game until your character attributes are more stable. This attempt to have forced play value is disheartening in the beginning of the game, when your character is weak and gold pieces are hard to come by.

A second crimp with Riders of Rohan is the way enemy strength is handled. The game is very unbalanced, starting from very difficult to very easy to near impossible by the game's end. This is because the skill level of the enemies increase whenever you gain an experience level, which is costly if you buy the wrong weapons and armor at the wrong time. The game provides no warning of this either, so gamers used to pumping up their characters first before proceeding will get confused in this adventure.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
There are a lot of plot elements occuring in Riders of Rohan, but the execution of the plot is somewhat lacking. Part of it is the lack of demos in the game; a good rule of thumb is that you need at least enough demos to move the story along, but you can't have so many that it cuts off the interactivity between the player and the game world. Riders of Rohan hits the former extreme; theoretically, a gamer could beat Riders of Rohan by only talking to the king, the Innkeeper, the weaponsmith, and the items shop owner.

What was pretty neat about Riders of Rohan is the conversation method used in the game. Similar to adventure titles like Monkey Island and such, Riders of Rohan gives you the opportunity to select from different things to say to villagers, allowing for more realistic conversations. Unfortunately, the majortiy of the villagers in Riders of Rohan are some of the rudest and abhorring folk ever pixelated. They'll more often say "Get away from me" than provide any useful information. Although realistic, this cuts off from the flow of the game.

Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
(Very Poor) While surviving through Riders of Rohan can be a rewarding experience the first time around, playing it a second time is out of the question simply because the RPG can be such a pain to play in the beginning. Your supplies are severely limited and the game sets off the false impression that it's very difficult, when it fact the game gives you a lot more room for error after you build your character.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
If you're used to playing RPGs a certain way and it doesn't match the way you usually play RPGs, then Riders of Rohan will not be your cup of tea. You'll have the most success going if you're the risky type of RPG player. You have to learn to do battles beyond your character's capacity so that you can get strong enough, and once you're strong enough you have to take matters into your own hands before the enemies get too strong for you to handle. It will take a couple of tries to figure out the "flow" of this game and it will be frustrating at first if you're not ready for that extra challenge early on.
Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Riders of Rohan is one of the few QBRPGs I know that punish you for playing the game too quickly or for too long, and a lot of this rests on the way experience points are handled in this game. If you don't develop your character well enough, you'll be slaughtered by your enemies because you're too weak. But if you try too hard to pump up your character, then the enemies will beat you senseless anyway because their skill level increases whenever you gain an experience level!

To make matters worse, there's a big glitch in the game that takes away from the fun factor. Once you max out your character's experience level, you'll increase an extra level for every battle you fight, but your attributes don't increase! This glitch causes enemies to be much stronger than you are if it takes you too long to reach Isengard, and because you can't run away from battles without buying blue herbs, this can be very frustrating. An RPG shouldn't punish you when you're having fun.

Despite having to play the game just right though, Riders of Rohan has some fun for the journey you'll have and the story it provides. You just have to take a few precautions, since this game is very hard to start up. Don't waste your money on buying anything less than the best weapons and armor, and don't waste your time with subquests that may lessen the time you need to reach Isengard. It's certainly not impossible, but even the cockiest of RPG veterans will find this game to be a challenge.

Riders of Rohan Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Role Playing Game
Rating To solve: 4-5 hours Final Rating: 10/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
wTo play Riders of Rohan, run "ROHAN.EXE".

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