The quality of a game can often be summed up by the quality of its parts; graphics, sound, controls, replayability, and of course the quality of the gameplay itself. Unfortunately, many portions of this criteria are a matter of perspective and dates. Graphics great in 320x240 circa 1983 are, of course, blocky masses of crap compared to the 800x600+ miracles of modern gaming. 3 voice synthesis sound doesn't hold up to 5:1 surround of today's games.



A game is often judged on sight and sound alone without the benefit of playing it. In the past, game programmers had very little to work with, so they spend their time working on the other portions of the criteria; gameplay and replayability.

Forbidden Forest offered some astounding gameplay elements that may seem commonplace now, but for 1983 - were truly amazing.

Probably the first thing you will notice about the game is the incredible MUSIC. Spooky. Haunting. Obviously well done. These days, game companies have a whole TEAM dedicated to game music. But back then, Paul Norman did it ALL himself; including the game's eerie and ever-changing music.

Once the intro is complete (you saw a recreation of it in Flash when you entered the site; provided you had the plugin installed) and you begin playing you will notice the many levels of parallax and realistic landscaping on the screen. 'Distant' trees move slower than 'near' trees, and properly appear behind them. Monsters appear in front and behind the landscape. A very realistic environment for a very low res game.

Did it just get darker? Yep, notice the moon is dropping slowly across the sky? It does indeed become night time in the Forbidden Forest. The stars appear, glow and twinkle. The landscape turns dark under the canopy of night. Attention to detail. One of the many things that makes the game so remarkable.

What about the forest creatures? Nothing as cute as squirrels and chipmunks in this Forbidden Forest. Giant spiders, plagues of huge frogs, freaky snakes that can spit venom even when you can't see 'em, multiple attack dragons, screaming ghosts, heck, a plethora of creatures awaits you. Of course, the badass of the forest, the Demogorgon, is at the end of the hordes - awaiting you.

Did I mention you are an archer? Oh yes. Your only weapon is a trusty bow and 4 quivers of arrows each level. The game also introduces some 3Dish elements too. You can actually position indicators on the side of the screen to show roughly how 'far up' you are shooting. In some cases, the creatures can appear in the distance as well as nearby. You will learn to master your bow's trajectory - but do it quickly; the creatures aren't going to wait!

Paul's first major game, Forbidden Forest had to break some molds and make a name for the new Cosmi programmer. If the great environment, spooky creatures, and awesome music that changes to meet the current scene weren't enough, we are also treated to some of the goriest graphics of the day! When the archer is killed, blood splatters everywhere! Sure, every game now has gore - but back then, gore was near unheard of. Dragons burn alive when you kill them. The Ghost screams when you put an arrow in his face. You are splatted into a pool of goo when the frog lands on you. Your body sizzles and dissolves when the snake spatters you with venom. Way too much fun.

While the game is relatively easy to play (heck, even to beat on the 'Innocent' level) playing the hardest level all the way through is quite a challenge. And you'll have fun pounding the crap out of the creatures over and over again. Maybe the Demogorgon will freak you out. It did me the first time!