When he was 16 years old in 1983, Will Harvey sold Electronic Arts a program called Music construction kit. Harvey, the first note editor for PCs, had developed the program to be integrated music in the Video games he made. The program was a hit and Harvey went to college where he continued to play video games. He wanted to revolutionize gaming with a relatively new medium – the internet, for which he saw a natural place Multiplayer Gaming.
That didn’t happen, but what he ultimately created was a fascinating, angry, and addicting game. It’s unfair and is compounded by the limitations of the Nintendo Switch. The immortal is one of the most ruthless games on the NES. Still, I kept coming back to find out more.
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The immortal Starts the player in a small room in a dungeon that is lit by a lonely candle. There is a skull next to the candle. As you get closer to the candle, players will see a nice text box in old world script:
A picture of the old wizard Mordamir jumps out of the candle and begins to speak: “Dunric, you have come to save me. I’m way down in the dungeons I know I can count on you. “This explains the mysterious disappearance of your old teacher, but one thing is strange about the message … YOUR NAME IS NOT DUNRY.
Lively descriptions, clues to secrets, and a wonderful twist at the end. Her wizard looks cool too, a lively ghost of gray robes and black shadows, crowned by a red hat and a sick golden staff.
There are a few sunken tiles in the dungeon. Approach one of them and the game suddenly drops the mystical tone. A new screen of text will appear: “It may be a good idea to move around.” And indeed it is, because if you don’t move away right away, giants, Dune-How worms emerge from the dungeon and swallow you whole. Game over.
While the game offered a warning to be fair, it will be the first and last time this will happen. Whatever will happen again and again will die from one of The immortal‘s seemingly endless traps.
Oh the things that can kill you The immortal. There are fireballs coming out of the walls, fireballs from the ground, various arrows, impaled pike, bad smelling spores (if you plant them they will grow into a deadly mushroom that will make you explode), trap doors, bats, goblins, trolls, reading runes , invisible enemies and lures that evoke the above Dune-like worms.
The goblins and trolls offer special one-on-one battles on a new screen with beautiful 8-bit characters. These are duck-and-stab fights with a few attack options. At the time, the controls felt a bit, it feels especially ridiculous to have them in combat against invisible characters, but that’s exactly what happens.
They will all kill you over and over again, so it becomes easy to get curious about how you’re going to die next to find out who Dunric is. An old review by The immortal in the Computer game world mentions that the game’s original manual actually included a guide to walk the player through the first level step by step, and it’s a shame Nintendo couldn’t upload a version of this guide. The immortal is hard enough, but figuring out the gameplay from scratch was an added hurdle. Look up a walkthrough (like this one) is strongly recommended.
Looking back interviewHarvey notes that in the early 1980s, “a single person could write a video game. One person could do the music, write the code, and do the artwork. With the growth of the video game industry, it was no longer possible for one person to write an entire video game. “
While The immortal was built with one small teamThere are signs of this tension throughout the game, weak spots that could have been filled with more eyes. While the terrain is hectic, the levels are relatively easy and move from door to door. Back then, Computer game world described The immortal as “an intensely graphical action-adventure disguised as a CRPG”, where it was found that the game left players no room for error in solving their problems. There is also a frustrating lack of save points, an issue somewhat mitigated by the Switch’s ability to create suspend points.
Harvey eventually dropped the idea of an online project Immortal in favor of the game’s storyline, which is filled with ancient lore, betrayal, goblin kings, dragons and much more. It’s very well written and compelling on its own, something that might stand next to classic retro game plots like A connection to the past and Great metroid.
While it’s a game that could use some polish before porting, The immortal is a classic example of how cruel these old games can be while being fun at the same time.