The Black Cauldron

Developer: Sierra
Release Date: 1986
333 KB
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You start this game as Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper of Caer Dallben. He is the main character of the magical Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and of the lesser known Disney film, The Black Cauldron. Taran dreams of life as a great hero and feels condemned to a boring life as a farmhand, when all of a sudden fate steps in. Soon, Taran is traveling across Prydain on a quest to keep Hen Wen, the oracular pig, out of the clutches of the evil Horned King, and to destroy the evil Black Cauldron, which the King plans to use to create an army of deathless warriors. Along the way he meets a group of wonderful companions who become his lifelong friends and cohorts in his journeys.

This is a game designed both for younger players and for players who are just getting used to the "Sierra style" of adventure gaming. This was one of Sierra's first games and in many ways exemplifies that which those of us who consider ourselves "Sierra fans" came to love and got us hooked on all the Sierra classics to follow: the King's Quest games, Space Quest, Police Quest, Liesure Suit Larry, and the like. The interface uses the directional arrows on your keyboard and basically only a few of the function keys; hence, the Sierra type of interface is present but no typing is required. Seasoned adventure gamers will find this game ridiculously easy, as most of the "classic" Sierra adventures included tasks that could only be accomplished by entering various commands with the right wording. It is a good introduction to the genre, though, and as previously stated, great for kids whose typing skills are a little slow. The "world" of this game is small enough to memorize, so no mapping is required either.

The most interesting aspect of this game is that it involves a choice, which determines the storyline from that point; this was something lacking in most of the early Sierra adventures. You can either follow the plot of the Disney movie exactly, or you can follow a path similar to that of the Prydain books, and even meet a character central to the books but completely absent from the movie (Gwystyl of the Fair Folk). This game is much more challenging if you haven't seen the film; my brother and I took a month to win it back in '86 because we had no idea what the plot was. The major disappointment in this game, for me, was that two characters who made the books so entertaining and magical, Princess Eilonwy and Fflewddur Fflam, get only a passing mention in the game. In short, this is a game for kids and for those of you who appreciate the "classics".

By: PsychDoctor