Author: Keith Campbell
Publisher: Robico
Machine: Acorn Electron

Published in Computer & Video Games #46


Following hot on the heels of Island of Xaan comes Assassin from Robico Software, another machine code text adventure for the BBC.

The game has what promises to be a good plot and performs every bit as well as its predecessor, but I have my reservations about it.

You are Rick Hanson, Special Agent, and find yourself in a disused railway station. Most of the buildings are closed down and boarded up and the platforms are sealed off. Only the occasional freight train seems to thunder through, heading towards the dark entrance of the tunnel just up the line.

Rick Hanson

There is trouble in store for you if you try to leave, in the shape of a mysterious character hiding behind a parked car outside. There is also danger from within, for a stranger in dark glasses and upturned collar is on the prowl, and he's none too friendly!

An explosive tape recorder - so what's new? - tells you your mission, which is to assassinate General Garantz, who is "threatening to nuke the lot of us". The message suggests you stay overnight at the Tavern in the next village. It's just getting there that is the hard part!

The text in this game is very descriptive, as in "...rusty patches surround the bulbous rivets that line the metal walls..." However, there seems little point in such descriptions, when they apparently have no use. EXAMINE RIVETS merely gets the reply "I can't guess", the game's way of informing you it doesn't understand. This phrase is repeated all too often in reply to commands which the player will very likely use to try to crack the problems.

Rick Hanson

The method of escaping from the station - assuming I am on the right track - is cleverly implemented. But although I have escaped, I have not yet managed to get through the tunnel, let alone reach the next village.

Adventures are problem games, but this one is very frustrating for its lack of clues coupled with its poor command vocabulary and "Can't guess" replies.

The Save Game option is rather unusual in that it calls for a filename to be entered. This can be a problem if you inadvertently type in a non-existent filename when you try to restore a saved game, as the computer will lock up and you will have to reload the main program.

I really did persevere with this game, but ended up with one big question. Why do British Rail only employ aggressive guards expert in Oriental fighting techniques on their goods trains? And why do their trains only run in one direction?

Assassin is for the BBC B from Robico.

Keith Campbell

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