金庸群俠傳(JinYong QunXia Zhuan) or Heroes of Jin Yong was released by Soft-World, A Taiwanese software developer in 1995. The game revolves around the protagonist who was sucked into a virtual-reality program based around the Martial arts novels of the celebrated Jin Yong (Louis Cha查良鏞).
The game starts off the main character waking up in an unknown house with strange clothing on. Thinking that he fell asleep while playing a computer game knowned as 金庸群俠傳, he was shocked to find out via the Soft-World mascot that he had been the lucky person to test their virtual reality unit for the game. Finding out that the only way out of the program and back into the real world, the protagonist sets out to complete this task even if he had no idea what it was (The mascot was less than helpful).
Going to the first visible location from his house, he arrives at an roadside inn (all other locations are locked until you finish this sequence) known as 河洛客棧(HeLuo Inn) and was at first ridiculed as a wayside idiot. After a bit a cash to loosen lips, the protagonist is directed to speak with two characters: 南賢 (Nan Xian) and 北丑 (Northern Clown). Learning this, the protagonist sets off and finds Nan Xian as he lives fairly near to the Inn.
Arriving at Nan Xian's house, the protagonist finds the aged man waiting for him to arrive and explains the premise of the world and "game" that the protagonist has found himself in.
About thirty years ago, a strange youth (suggested to be Jin Yong himself) suddenly appeared in Jianghu who told everyone that he was from another era. At first, this youth had only a basic grasp of martial arts techniques but soon came about to learning nearly all forms of pugilistic skills in Jianghu becoming a well-known legend in the world. Through his journeys, he wrote a set of 14 books about the world and they were entrusted to the various Shifu's of the martial sects that operate within Jianghu. However, they were stolen at one point of time and now have been lost to the world. The protagonist then learns that he must gather the 14 books together and then win a martial arts competition held once a year where the winners learn of the location of the sacred shrine in which the 14 books should be kept. Only when this is completed can the protagonist finally wake from his "dream".
With knowledge in hand, he acquires a compass from Nan Xian's house and sets out into Jianghu to find the 14 books and become a legend himself.
A basic knowledge of what goes on in the actual novels helps with the progression of various plots in the game.
- The arrow keys are used to navigate menus and directional movement in the open world or field of combat.
- The ESC key brings up your menu.
- The action/talk key is the spacebar.
- During choice selection screens, Y means yes while any other key would reject the challenge.
Before the game throws you into the world of Jianghu, You are first faced with the character creation screen. You can type out your name in either traditional chinese or with english letters. After that, you will be faced with a random character generation screen where you can keep rolling your character until you accept it.
Skills by columns from left (Descending):
- Internal strength: A energy meter similar to mana in most other games that is spent to use your techniques in combat.
- Life: Health points
- Unarmed combat skill
- Martial Power: Similar to strength, a higher rating gives more damage.
- Medical skill: A higher rating allows you to heal more.
- Sword skill
- Light body skill: A higher ability in this allows the character to move further while in combat.
- Poison use: The ability to poison your enemies. A higher rating indicates a higher poison "damage" inflicted.
- Sabre skill
- Defense: A higher rating lets you take reduced damage from enemy attacks.
- Poison curing: A higher rating allows you to cure a larger amount of poison damage per action.
- Hidden weapons: A higher rating gives you greater range to attack and also inflict more damage from hidden weapons.
There are a number of hidden variables that are randomly generated that you are not privy to during the creation process. One of them is the type of energy that your character has, weather or not it is Yin, Yang or neutral. This affects various kinds of skills that you can learn depending on your energy alignment. Another hidden stat is Intelligence. A higher rating allows you to master all skills at a faster rate and also open up some skills that lesser minds are not able to comprehend. However, the reverse is true as well, a lower intelligence rating forces you to a slower rate of learning and also opens up certain skill sets that smart characters are not able to learn (most notable of which is the "Technique of Ambidexterity" which allows a character to attack twice in a turn).
Combat is similar to tradition SRPG games where you and your party are placed inside an arena in which you move and attack via a system of grids. The battlefield consists of multiple environments throughout the game and are all on a single flat gird plane.
A player can perform various actions during combat (Left column, Descending order):
- Attack: Opens up a menu of the various moves that you can perform.
- Use Poison
- Cure Poison
- Use Items
- Show Stats
- Automate: Lets the computer fight your fights.
(Note that not all characters can perform all moves, as such some commands will be missing)
(Right column, Descending order):
- Character Portrait
- Stamina: A standardized 100 stat for all characters depicting the amount of actions you can take until you "tire out".
- Internal Strength
The game consists of 55 learnable martial arts manuals. Some of which only trains your stats and skills while most contain an offensive ability that you can learn. In general, all attacks can be categorized into these four types:
Single point attacks: Attacks that hit only a single target. Poison attacks, cures, healing and item usage fall under this category.
Area-of-Effect attacks: Attacks that can hit multiple targets.
Single line attacks: Attacks that strike out in a line depending on the direction from the user.
Cross-type attacks: Attacks that strike out in all four directions from the location of the user.
Travelling between locations is represented in a isometric style map. You are represented as a giant man of yourself and points of interests can be represented by mountains, buildings, caves...etc.
You must first complete the introduction stage of the game before you will be able to enter most locations and even after you do, various locations depend on story elements before opening up.
Although the whole map is opened for you to explore, there are various hidden locations (most notably caves) that are hidden from the players view. They are only made known to you during conversations with NPCs during your quests though it is very possible to discover all of them by rubbing yourself along every mountain you find.
Post-introduction, you will be given a compass which points to the location of your boat. With the boat, you will be able to traverse across water tiles giving you access to various islands beyond the main continent or places that require water access to reach by foot.
Various actions in the world of Jianghu can positively or negatively affect your ethical index. In turn, this will affect how the world will respond to your character. Some denizens of some locations will become hostile to you or various recruitable characters will be willing to join you or not depending on the level of your ethical index.
Many things can affect your ethical index, just randomly taking stuff from peoples houses without permission can lower your grades or by recruiting questionable characters into your party as well. Forcing your way past guards without the proper invitation to events can also negatively affect your index.