Ah, the 1990s. Happy days.

Mostly, anyway. One of the more troublesome children of the 1990s was Virtual Reality. Bleah. For a pound you could sit in an arcade with your head in a weird helmet, looking foolish and trying to pretend that what you were seeing was a plausible 3D world.

For some reason, it never took off.

Incentive Software, on the other hand, decided to start creating games for home computers based on this. The results were numerous: Total Eclipse, in which you tried to find several ankhs cunningly hidden around an Egyptian tomb, Driller, in which you drove around what were supposed to be platforms floating above the moon of Mitral building drilling rigs to tap dangerous pockets of gas and fell to the ground with alarming regularity, and the 3D Construction Kit, in which you built your own games and inflicted them upon your friends. But Castle Master has always held a special place in my heart.

It's difficult to explain exactly why. There's just something great about having a huge, deserted, (except for the ghosts which moved jerkily around and had to be exorcised by, erm, throwing stones at them) castle to explore. Rather than the frenetic action of most modern 3D games, in Castle Master you move gently and carefully, always on the lookout for the game's many hidden secrets. These are numerous- from simple things like ringing a bell to dislodge a key hidden in it through finding a hole containing treasures in the stomach of what you had previously thought to be a living horse to shooting the 'raise drawbridge' button while you stand on it and so hurling yourself through the air to land on the top of the church. It didn't help that the game was huge- not by the standards of today, but at the time I boggled at the four towers, each with four floors, each of those floors with four rooms in, not to mention a maze of caves underground and various other little bits and pieces.

Of course, to finish it you had to find each and every key, gold coin, pentacle (it was never adequately explained what these things were but you needed to collect the set of ten to unlock some door), kill each and every ghost, beast, and weird floaty thing, and then finish Magister, the titular Castle Master (who had a seven-page poem written about him in the manual for no apparent reason.)

Ah, memories.

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