Lady Jennifer pulled back on the reins of the team and attempted to back the wagon under the miller’s window. “Oh, dear!” milady exclaimed in frustration, “There goes another sack of flour. The miller really ought to make them of sterner stuff.” Seeing his precious flour dissemble in the wind, the miller decided to give Lady Jennifer a piece of his mind, nobility or not. “You clumsy oaf! I’m ruined!” Lady Jennifer went on to win the game, even after failing in some of the arcade games within the larger game. That is one of the best points about this family game. One doesn’t have to master every phase of it in order to win. Even the least coordinated member of the family can win.
Chivalry is a family game built around the medieval ideal of noblesse oblige. It is a series of arcade games and mini-adventure scenarios built around a board game format. Unlike many games which use both a board and the computer, the computer portion of the game contains some very fine graphics. In fact, the game could actually be played without the board, but the players would lose some of the enjoyment of immediately being able to compare the progress of their token with the tokens of the other players. The board also assists the players by visually directing them toward the goal (The Black Knight’s Castle) and providing a sense of accomplishment when they get by an obstacle. Perhaps, one of the best things in the game’s favour is that one doesn’t have to master each feature within the game in order to advance or even, win. My nine year old daughter (Lady Jennifer) gets very frustrated with arcade games of the traditional sort where one must master one screen before moving on to the next. In CHIVALRY, one loses a turn or goes back some spaces, but is never completely defeated by a screen.
This does a lot for morale, especially for some of us who will never be known as coordinated. Another positive difference between Chivalry and traditional arcade games is that each screen is a completely different game with a different challenge. The hill may seem to be DEJA VU of DONKEY KONG or CANNON-BALL BLITZ, but the mill (described above), the archer’s meet, the dart game at the Den of Thieves Inn, the willow path and the laurel maze are entirely different. My personal favourite involves jousting at either the Templar’s Castle or the Lists. of course, Chivalry is also an educational game. Besides the background colour of a historic period, the game facilitates learning in at least one other way. Each player must read a large text description of his move and his challenge on the screen. The text is easy to read and is surrounded by pleasant graphics. The text appears on the screen in short panels.
Panels linger long enough for most players to read them and faster readers may take advantage of the “fast text” feature of pressing the space bar to advance to the next panel. In this way, slow or beginning readers are not embarrassed by missing any of the important information, clues or instructions presented in the panels. The improving reader, however, has the incentive of learning how to speed up the game. If the panels are still moving too fast, the player may pause the game by pressing the escape key. Another possible educational feature is that of making decisions. Several of the mini-adventure scenarios require the player to make a choice. For example, a noble arriving at the Market are invited to choose between a fine wine, a common food and a bear potion. Seeing a bear cave two spaces ahead, the precocious adventurer will buy the bear potion. The astute noble will also listen to passer-by’s about bandits, special numbers, and their fortune. If the adventurous noble can remember this information, it will help him/her at a later time.
Chivalry is a delightful family game. It is, of course, to most adult computer games what LIFE is to adult board games, extremely simple. Yet, it is a game that offers some interesting challenges to adults, as well as children. It will take several playing sessions before even Dad has mastered all the screens. Even then, it’s nice to have a game that the youngsters don’t have to feel intimidated about and are willing and even excited about playing. Once they’ve played Chivalry, how are you going to keep them away from Fantasy Role Playing? it’s not going to be possible!