Review by aepiphid
Reviewed: 02/20/03 | Updated: 02/20/03
Eamon is to RPGs what the Amoeba is to the human race.
For years I have wondered what happened to Eamon adventures. I was first introduced to this single-player text-based role playing game in my most formative years during the mid-80s. My family upgraded from an old Leading Edge computer (featuring Volkswriter, the Microsoft Word of the early 1980s) to a state-of-the-art Apple IIgs, the limited edition signed by Steve Wozniak himself. Ah, the memories...
...where was I. Oh yes; it was around this time that I discovered this obscure gaming series, obscure even in its own day. I often credit the original Phantasy Star series as being the beginning of my love for RPGs, but in retrospect, Eamon was my very first exposure to this fascinating genre.
I will try to put together a review within the confines of a normal review structure (story, game play,etc.), but I cannot promise you I can pull this off. Please forgive any inaccuracies; it has been nearly 15 years since I last played an Eamon adventure, and my aging memory is not what it used to be. Well, here goes...
Eamon is not actually a game. It is a software platform into which various stories are programmed. Remember Dungeons and Dragons? (Yes, I played D&D for a few years when I was a kid - I'm man enough to admit it). D&D was not the game itself, it was the gaming platform, with rules and behind-the-scenes development. The games themselves consisted of modules you bought to accompany the myriad of manuals for which your parents shelled out way too much money.
Eamon worked the same way. There was a base module in which you would develop your character. Once you went through your first adventure, you could take your character through any other module of your choice.
The stories themselves were as good (or bad) as the individual programmer creating them. Eamon was an open platform and anyone could make a module for it. I even made one myself using an Eamon editor.
In all fairness, it is not really possible to rank the quality of the stories because of the sheer number and diversity. I only wrote this section to help familiarize you with the Eamon system and for nostalgic value for the few of you out there who remember Eamon. ?/10
The most surprising aspect of Eamon was that somehow, in spite of the primitive nature of the technology, adventures were non-linear! You could explore your worlds (limited though they were) in almost any order, acquiring items, making friends, fighting battles and solving very basic puzzles.
Every Eamon player equipped him or herself with a pad of graph paper with which to plot the path they had taken and where items of note were.
Because of the openly mathematical nature of the game's programming, it was possible to make friends with monsters you had fought a module earlier, and make enemies of other humans who otherwise would have accompanied you as your ally. Though encounters in Eamon were not random, the nature of the interaction was, a remarkable feat for its time.
For what it was, when it was, Eamon's game play was fairly impressive. 7/10
What can you say about the controls of a text-based game? Well, with Eamon, you can say a whole lot. Why? Remember how I mentioned Eamon was programmed as an open platform? This meant you could actually ''hack'' the code and change characteristics of a module as you played it!
I distinctly remember a cheat that accompanied the initial character building module. You opened the code and scrolled to line 110. You could give yourself any statistics you wanted from here - certainly cheating, but what the heck, right?
Hack into a game and change the outcome as you play it - with no special system add-ons required? That, my friends, is what I call control! 10/10
It is possible to rank visuals with text-based games. The rating has to do with how well the environment is put into words (and therefore how easy it is to visualize). However, going back to what I said in my ''story'' section, modules were as good as the programmer, and there were many. There's no good way to rate this. ?/10
You guessed it. No sound. ?/10
Eamon really shined in the replay department. I'm sure the casual gamer today would not give an Eamon module a first look, let alone a second play. But for some reason, even though the modules never changed, I never got bored with them, and with the ability to create my own Eamon adventures, I could spend hours playing at a time. 9/10
My final score is my tribute to the great-grandfather of RPGs. If you have nostalgic tendencies (as I do), try to dig out some old Eamon games and see if you can make them run. It's a worthwhile experience. 8/10
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