The Syzygy Cult
Requirements: 68020 or better
Mike: Every once in a while, a game comes along that is so creative, so revolutionary, so addictive, that everyone must stop and pay attention for a minute or two. In terms of computer games, great examples include DOOM, Marathon, Myst, and the SimCity series. The same is true for many video game systems â€” witness PacMan, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, and even Sonic the Hedgehog.
It is interesting to see how quickly these games reach other platforms. For example, DOOM and Myst now have versions available for Sega and Nintendo systems. There have been tons of Tetris and PacMan clones available on all sorts of systems. Now, even arcade games such as NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat are being released for use on computers.
One other such game of this nature can be found in the classic Legend of Zelda series of games from Nintendo. The Zelda games provided a unique combination of part action, part adventure, and part role-playing-game that appealed to fans of all three genres. Now, Mac users can get a good taste of what Nintendo players have been enjoying for years, with Mantra, an excellent game by the Syzygy Cult.
Mantra looks like a class act from the very beginning. Once the game loads, you are greeted with a very nicely done splash screen displaying the title, options, and a cool sword graphic that rotates in 3-D.
Adam: From the minute that I saw the Mantra icon, I knew that this was going to be a great game. Then when I opened the game, I was greeted with a very well done splash screen, and then a menu with a 3-D spinning sword! That wasn’t it though, when I clicked “new game” I was presented with a detailed story, and then a wonderful two dimensional environment with great graphics, and music that is superior to any music I have ever heard in a shareware game, let alone freeware! Needless to say, I have never enjoyed a freeware game as I have Mantra.
Mike: The story involves the hero, Saric, whom you control. Saric was shipwrecked on his way to Zarin, and was washed up on the shoreline. Saric now can do nothing but travel and explore this land, trying to discover where he is, what he has to do to get to Zarin or to get back home, and where he can reach his master, the Ambassador of Kish.
You control Sarin by using either the arrow keys or the numeric keypad. You can run in the direction you wish if you hold the Command key down while moving. The space bar is used for Saricâ€™s dagger or sword, and the Shift key controls the use of an alternate weapon.
Adam: The view of the game is superb. Transitions between screens are easy, and the movement of Saric and other enemies are smooth. You have strength and stamina indicator bars. The stamina is used up when you run or use a mantra, and it recharges itself if you are not running. The strength is taken up when an enemy hits you. That is not so easily replenished, however! You have to find a water hole to replenish yourself or you run out of strength and die. When I beat the game, I had 110 stamina/strength.
You also have money and experience. As you kill more enemies, you gain experience. The more experience you have, the more stamina/strength you have. The stamina/strength bars increase when you reach certain amounts of experience, in increments of 5. You use your money to buy potions from merchants in various villages that you run into along the way. Trust me, as you get further into the game, these come in handy!
Mike: The overhead perspective is wildly successful, and navigating throughout the world is easy. You can talk to the people you run across by simply bumping into them. The only drawback to this is that sometimes you have people telling you the same thing several times over because you canâ€™t get around them very easily! The only other complaint I have is that you thrust your sword out with your left hand, and the sword stays slightly on your left-hand side, rather than the center of your body. This may be more realistic, but I found at times if I was head-on with an enemy or slightly to the left of it, I would miss the enemy entirely or just barely glance it instead of hitting it squarely. It is rather easy to adjust to that very minor complaint, though.
Adam: As you move throughout the game, you find treasure chests, filled with goodies such as stronger swords, armor, potions, rings, wands, and the ultimate weapons- mantra’s. You will need all of these weapons to defeat various enemies throughout the game, and if you run into an enemy that is too strong for your current weapon, you have to go find the next strongest sword, or later in the game, one of the stronger mantras.
Mike: The graphics are cartoony and pleasing to the eye, the music is great, the plot and depth is exceptional for a shareware game, and it has that â€œjust rightâ€ level of difficulty â€” itâ€™s challenging, but not impossible. A simply great game.
Adam: Mantra is a GREAT game. And the fact that it is freeware makes it even better. I don’t pay my shareware fees for just any game, but I would be willing to pay for this one. I have yet to have a problem running the game, and I ran it on three different Macs. It was a fairly hard game, but it wasn’t unbeatable, which is a definite plus. Mantra offers everything I want in a shareware/freeware game, and then some.
Mike: If my portion of this review seems a little rushed or shorter than usual, thatâ€™s because it is. Iâ€™ve been rather short on free time this month, and every time I do get a chance to turn on my Mac lately, Iâ€™ve been much quicker to start playing Mantra than actually trying to accomplish anything constructive. Congrats to the Syzygy Cult for making such an outstanding, addictive game, and then giving it away as freeware. This game has got to be seen to be believed, so donâ€™t take my word for it. Do a keyword search for â€œMantraâ€ at your favorite software site, or visit the Cultâ€™s homepage on the Web, which is given in the Read Me file as http://www.biddeford.com/~benyc/home.html. Youâ€™ll be glad you did.
Adam: Mantra is available from America Online and the Info-Mac hyperarchive, by doing a keyword search for “Mantra,” or from the Syzygy Cult’s web page. Also, keep an eye on the Syzygy Cult’s web page for the upcoming Mantra II!