Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Sega's candidate for the whackiest title of the year award is, in fact, an excellent arcade adventure set over a variety of terrains.
At the start of the mission, Golvellius is given a sword and a pair of boots by a haggard old crone, and from then on he's on his own.
The first level comprises a horizontally scrolling trek through a worm-infested cave. Slithering creatures inch their way towards the hero and are sliced before they have a chance to make contact; if they do, a chunk is knocked off Golvellius' energy bar. If the bar is depleted twice, the mission is over. Halfway through the section a giant worm bars the way, and is defeated by repeated sword slashes. When it dies it drops jewels, which are picked up to add to the cash total. A little further on is the cave exit, which leads to a Gauntlet-style level comprised of nine flick screens.
Some of the screens have holes which are entered to access other screens. In two reside faries, which reveal details of Golvellius' quest: to collect seven jewels. Another three are shops where extra items are bought - if enough cash has been collected. The last one leads to a vertically scrolling cave inhabited by flying creatures and a large bat. Bash the bat and a snowman appears - not a cute 'n' cuddly one like Raymond Briggs' brilliant creation, this one is mean and throws energy-sapping icicles at the hero.
If he's destroyed, Golvellius is returned to the Gauntlet level, where an exit opens to another level, similar to the previous one but set in desert. As the adventure progresses, more and more of the mission objective is uncovered, and better weapons and useful items may be purchased to help Golvellius find the elusive jewels.
At the end of a game, a code is given, so that the player may start at the same position at another time, and there's also a continued option for those who like to persevere.
I must say that I enjoved playing this. It's challenging, addictive and varied - and there's plenty to explore and uncover. The graphics and Scanning Error quality indeed, and all the different sections combine to produce a highly entertaining and compulsive arcade adventure.