LucasFilm's Loom broke new ground with computer gamers upon its original release in the mid-1980s. Its text-free point-and-click interface was one of the finest in existence at the time and served as a model for today's computer-gaming industry to follow. It didn't hurt that the game behind the interface was as classy adventure with a well-crafted plot, a tale of mystical drama in a mysterious world of roaring dragons and exotic cityscapes.
None of this may be of any importance to the TurboGrafx-16 owner, whose ownership of a video game system is often testament to his affinity for the instant gratification provided by cartridge-based software. But those who have invested in the hardware to play Turbo CD titles will find a very involving and rewarding experience in the new Loom Super CD.
As the young weaver Bobbin Threadbare, you must travel through the land of the Guild of Wavers and unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Council of Elders and the secret of your own origin. You'll communicate with animals from the heavens and face the raging fury of a tornado - all in the first few minutes of the game!
The key to the ease of the interface in the distaff, a type of magic wand that your surrogate discovers early in the game. By playing musical notes on the wand, you can cast spells that have a physical effect on your environment. Playing the notes of a "draft" backwards can reverse the effects of the original spell, and, if you haven't already guessed, the body of the game consists mainly of traveling around to discover new drafts and experiment with their effects.
One of the first Super CD titles released in the U.S., Loom offers lavishly illustrated graphics and a strikingly beautiful digital soundtrack. With its widescreen display and orchestral musical score, it boasts the production values of a motion picture. Factor in an emotionally involving plot line, you'd expect the results to be nearly perfect - and, for the most part, they are.
Unfortunately, there are two nagging criticisms regarding the game's playability that cry out for refinement. First, the literal translation of the original Loom interface was left TurboGrafx-16 owners with a flashing arrow that needs to be dragged across the screen to point at your destination or an object you're interested in. That's great if you're using a mouse as an input device, but with a TurboPad it tends to be a bit clumsy.
The second gripe concerns the speed of your character as he moves around the screen. Get the lead out, Bobbin - nobody wants to spend an hour watching you shuffle down the corridor that leads to the Hall of Great Loom, much less take the time to ponder the significance of the elaborate tapestries that hang on the walls there. There's a problem with disc access time, too; I find it hard to believe that the large memory capacity of the Super System Card in being fully exploited here.
If you can successfully navigate around these two obstacles, the reward is a gloriously satisfying adventure that's unlike anything else on the TurboGrafx-CD. Loom is highly recommended to gamers who are both patient and inquisitive.