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Image credit: Eurogamer

Alundra (1998)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Matrix Software
  • Publisher: SCEI / Working Designs

Okay, it was no Zelda - but with the world still faced with holding its collective breath for Ocarina of Time for another six months, Matrix Software's incredibly charming and well-designed action RPG did rather more than just fill a gap. Pulling inspiration from Sega's Landstalker as well as Nintendo's Zelda, Alundra mixed solid storytelling, lovely graphics and fantastic puzzles to make for a game which deserves far more recognition in the action RPG annals than it actually gets.

The reason for that, perhaps, is that Alundra was hard - arguably too hard. The combat in the game was responsive and relatively straightforward, but the aforementioned puzzles could leave players completely stumped for hours, if regular complaints on forums at the time are to be believed. We're not sure that the game's reputation as one of the hardest ever made is deserved, really, but it was certainly no slouch in the difficulty department.

For all that, Alundra was compelling as hell. A storyline which started off with a boy washed up on a beach after a storm (how original!) rapidly spiralled into a dark, fascinating and occasionally incredibly cruel plot - while Alundra's key power, the ability to enter people's dreams, lent welcome variety to the environments and the action. Unlike many RPGs, Alundra did make it to European shores - but good luck finding a copy of the game, which was produced only in tiny quantities.

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