Monday, March 21, 2016

"Gateway to the Savage Frontier", 1991.

Greetings all, from this retired and surely shuttered blog! In a case of peculiar synchronicity, The CRPG Addict has just begun playing Gateway to the Savage Frontier concurrently with the Digital Antiquarian exploring the history of SSI through its archive at the Strong Museum of Play. This blog is still on indefinite hiatus (with regular posts moved on over to Pixel Pompeii) but the conjunction was too great, I had this ad languishing indefinitely on the back burner (sourced from a rigorous post over at Extra Lives at World 1-1 ) back from my abortive attempt to do a spree of ads for all the D&D games... and couldn't resist nipping back in to air it in honour of the occasion, throwing my two cents atop their dollars and pounds.

Volume 1
in a completely new AD&D computer fantasy role-playing epic!

A grand adventure is unfolding in the mysterious Savage Frontier! Enter the foreboding lands of an area never before explored in a computer fantasy role-playing game: the Savage Frontier! Sail the Trackless Sea, conquer the heights of the Lost Peaks, brave the ruins of Ascore, guardian of the Great Desert, visit magical Silverymoon and much more! Your quest: halt the murderous conspiracy of dark invaders from afar. Success will be yours only if you can uncover ancient mystical items of power to destroy the malignant invasion!

Based on an enhanced version of the award-winning game system used in POOL OF RADIANCE, CURSE OF THE AZURE BONDS and SECRET OF THE SILVER BLADES, GATEWAY TO THE SAVAGE FRONTIER gives you the freedom to make the story happen the way you want it to! Plus, an all-new wilderness style adds new exploration and excitement to all of your outdoor adventure!

How can you resist?

The Savage Frontier awaits!

OK, the old knee-jerk hot takes: Sex! They hadn't put a fantasy cheesecake babe on the front of a box since Curse of the Azure Bonds back in 1989 and perhaps the lack had been felt in the sales numbers. (They would make up for that by babe-ing up three releases this year: this one, plus Pools of Darkness (drow spider babes!) and the AOL MMORPG Neverwinter Nights the first.)

The list of other games using "the award-winning game system" conspicuously notes only the Forgotten Realms Gold Box games, leaving out Champions of Krynn and Death Knights of Krynn. (Pools of Darkness came out in the same year, but I guess that this one came out first!) That lower screenshot is conspicuously Bard's Tale-ish, but not terribly representative of what you might see playing one of these games... an attempt to breed a little brand confusion? "[A]n area never before explored in a computer fantasy role-playing game", but of course visited in great depth in a science-fiction side-scrolling platform game, right? Something's not quite grammatically "on" with "brave the ruins of Ascore, guardian of the Great Desert" -- first it sounds like Ascore is a place with ruins, but then it sounds like an entity. Or is/was it a living city? And how well could it guard the Great Desert (and why exactly does a desert rate guarding? Typically people give them a wide berth) if it allowed itself to wear down into ruins? All these questions and more... answerable only by someone who has actually played the game.

The system claims to be enhanced! That doesn't just mean VGA graphics at long last (it was about time, though these games were still hobbled by being designed to meet the lowest common denominator of the C64) but also the vaunted "wilderness style". As I, again, haven't played this one, I'm not quite sure how the wilderness style here differs from wilderness adventuring in eg. Curse of the Azure Bonds -- I gather it involves use of an overland map and some random outdoor combat maps, but who knows for sure.

A closing gambit: I like how they put the box art front and centre in the ad, and then put a little version of the same consarned art on a simulated box in the corner.

OK, we now return you to your regularly scheduled radio silence!