Description of The Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron is a fun adventure for kids based on a quite obscure Disney's movie of the same name, which was in turn based on the popular "Chronicles of Prydain" series of children's books by Lloyd Alexander.
As in the movie, you are Taran, assistant Pig keeper, making your meager living in the fantasy land of Prydain. Your troubles begin when your pig HenWen, which has magical powers, was kidnapped by the Evil Horned King. The King wants to use HenWen's magical powers to locate the powerful black cauldron and rule the world. Naturally, your job is to rescue HenWen and save the world from evil.
The feature that sets The Black Cauldron apart from other Sierra adventure games at the time is the lack of parser. Instead of typing commands a la Police Quest, King's Quest etc., the entire game is played only by pressing a few function keys which represent "USE [INVENTORY] OBJECT," "DO," and "USE" commands. This fulfills the game's goal of being a "kid's game," since it allows preschoolers to enjoy the game without worrying about grammar. The only problem with this approach is that if you are near several Do-able objects, the game just arbitrarily picks one. Not a big deal, though.
The game overall is well-designed, with appropriate pacing and logical puzzles that won't frustrate kids. Although there is a maze and a few action sequences, they are easy to pass. Unlike most early Sierra games, there are many endings in The Black Cauldron. Some follow the storyline, others are just there for fun, making the game quite replayable.
With colorful characters, accessible interface for kids, and the usual charm of early EGA Sierra games, The Black Cauldron is a great adventure that kids of all ages will enjoy. Thumbs up!
Review By HOTUD
Comments and reviews
ShwahGamer 2023-03-31 2 points
The game works, I was able to start it and play a little. But I can't help noticing there's not parser system. All the commands are done by use the F6 and so on number keys on the keyboard. This is completely different from every other Sierra game of the time, and I don't know if it's supposed to be that way or if the parser isn't working at all. It won't let me type in any commands.
Sara 2018-02-10 -2 points
I can't get the game to load at all. It says "Illegal Command". I haven't played this game since I was a kid and was really looking forward to it. :(
A Wise Old Man 2013-02-21 2 points DOS version
The Mouse House actually made more money off this game than they did the movie, which was a major flop in the theaters. A lot of K-6 schools bought copies to help kids get a start on the basics of just using a computer - booting up, using a floppy drive, accessing files, loading programs, etc, etc.
guest 2012-10-03 1 point DOS version
Review of the Black Cauldron for DOS:
Pollito 2012-08-28 2 points DOS version
If anyone is having trouble running this under DOSBox, they might want to try ScummVM. It's great at interpreting most Sierra and SCUMM adventure games on many different platforms.
Anne 2012-08-18 0 point DOS version
It's been years since I played this game, but I believe you actually need to type words to interact with things.
Eric 2009-10-18 1 point DOS version
Press Esc to bring up the command buttons. This game uses the F keys for everything. IJKM or arrows to move around.
Justyn 2009-10-03 1 point DOS version
I was hoping I could make this game play. But I could not get the emulation speed to work correctly in DOSBox. Also no key I pressed seemed to work as the interact button. I wasn't able to enter doors, interact with any items or places. Maybe just incompatible with DOSBox or Perhaps I was doing something wrong.
It looks like a fun game, let me know if anyone knows how to make it work right.
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