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Title: Mantra
Author:Syzygy Cult
Rom Player: MacOS Classic
Reviewer: Brian Connors

Synopsis: I rather wish Syzygy Cult was still around, as they did create some pretty cool games. I'm not even sure where you can download this one anymore, but if you find it, it's pretty much the best imaginable Zelda clone ever written.

The plot is a bit weak -- washed up on a distant shore, Link, er, Saric, has to find the mantras (incredibly powerful spell scrolls) and defeat Balther, the evil sorceror who rules the land. It is built very much on the Zelda model, though the graphics are much better than the NES could ever have hoped, and the music is some of the best video game music ever written. It has the added advantage of having been an obscure piece of freeware written for MacOS 7.x, meaning those of you who don't care for walkthroughs have the chance to explore the whole world yourself.

It adds RPG features (particularly experience points and enemy damage-type immunities) to the original Zelda model, and the Mantras, as corny as they seem, are as effective as weapons as they are game objects. You can do more stuff -- hacking and slashing through a town may not get you anywhere, but you can do it. (Oh, yes -- Mantra has towns.) You do not, sadly, get Link's shooting sword trick, but that just makes it more interesting from a strategy standpoint.

Sadly, Syzygy Cult's high standards for this game didn't even come close to being met for Mantra 2, a fuzzily-concieved game with poor graphics and dull music. I'd hoped at one point that the Cult would release the source to the original engine, but sadly they've gone their separate ways and the Mantra source code is long-lost.

Best Cheats:

Game Play: 10
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 10
Originality: 4
Overall Rating: 9

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