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Gaming Flashback: Secret of the Silver Blades

June 20th, 2008 by Derrick Schommer · No Comments

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I miss old SSI games and all the beauty and wonder they brought me as a child. Perhaps it’s more of the feeling of playing old MS-DOS games and that no worries feeling of playing games all summer long when your parents are out working; no cares in the world but that of the evil dragons and goblins of an RPG world. Secret of the Silver Blades arrived in May of 1990, developed and published by Strategic Simulations Inc (SSI), a company we covered in our gaming history back in TD Gaming Podcast Episode 9.

Secret of the Silver Blades is actually the third in a four-part game series which was eventually packaged in the Gold Box editing of the SSI games. It was a continuation of the game Curse of the Azure Bonds and the first in the series: Pool of Radiance. The cool part of the series was the leveling system where each would let you level to a certain limit just like most modules in D&D games, this game let you get to level seven which means a Mage could use the cool Delayed Blast Fireball spell which was one of my favorite magic spells in D&D (yeah, I’m a dork.)

The graphics were a whopping 16-colors, with slight graphical improvements over the other two prior games. This game didn’t have an overworld map like the others, going full first person for the length of the game. Another great enhancement was the ability to use the arrow keys to navigate menu’s without the need for “hot keys” like older SSI titles, given the game is very much menu-based for combat, equipment and inventory management it was very handy to have the use of those nice little arrow keys.

You create your party and start adventuring in a game engine very similar to all the games before it, so introduction to game mechanics was minimal, you could advance your characters further in level and, most importantly, import characters from previous games. The D&D world is really a character-driven game environment and you grow fond of your characters and understand the best ways to battle with them, importing is key and still, today, is a big part in well done RPG expansions (Guild Wars is a great example). Unfortunately, many games fall short of character import and it kind of blows away some of the magic of an RPG.

One of the frustrating issues with Secret of the Silver blade is the limitation on levels for the Cleric, because they can’t level up past 7 they can’t get the good ressurection spell, only allowed to use Raise Dead which lowers your characters constitution by 1 (much like the traditional D&D rules). However, given its a video game and not a paper-dice based game, the raise dead penalty is annoying, so it was easier to save often and re-load when you died to try again and avoid the penalty. I do recall their being some scrolls or something to get back your constitution penalty… but it’s been awhile I might be making that up.

Anyway, a well done series, classic RPG and helped build a foundation for games like Morrow Wind and Oblivion in my opinion.

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Tags: Flashback · Podcast · Retro · RPG

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