Yet another adventure that's been talked about and advertised for a long long time before its eventual appearance, but here it is at last. Now you have the chance to play the roles of both The Human Torch and The Thing. As with last month's Terrors Of Trantoss, you can change control from one character to the other, this time using the SWITCH command.
The single cassette comes in the currently fashionable double-size box, along with a large sheet of information about the different abilities of the assorted heroes and villains. This time you're up against the Ringmaster and his cohorts, the Circus of Crime, including the great Gambonnos and Princess Python, who, according to the notes, "performs with a 25-foot boa conistrictor". Bet that's a hard act to follow!
You get your own act together in the Chief Examiner's office, where your mission is recounted to you if you say a magic word associated with Scott Adams, author of the Questprobe series. A bit unfair on newcomers who can't possibly be expected to know such 'in' information, but the word is listed in the complete vocabulary that you're also provided with - and you're definitely going to need it. It's your task to free Alicia Masters from Dr Doom, monarch of Latveria and possessor of a nuclear-powered, micro-computer enhanced suit of iron armour, I bet he has trouble getting that dry cleaned.
Thing is going to have cleaning problems too, as he begins the game knee deep in a tarpit, and typing I for Inventory shows that all he has is the tar that's covering him. Slowly, move by move he sinks, though you can prolong his survival a little if you tell him to hold his breath once he goes completely under. So what can you do as Human Torch to get him out? A good question, and if I had the answer I'd tell you. After a few hours play I still haven't cracked this first problem, and I've resisted the temptation to ring the software house and ask. A nearby shack provides Torch with a candle, but igniting the tar in the pit (which doesn't always burn) only produces a well- sizzled Thingburger.
Wandering off to a field reveals Dr Doom's castle, protected by Blob, while the Circus of Crime is gathered together in a tent in a fairground. There's a cannon you can climb inside, for what good that does you, and it's when you're battling against Ringmaster's constant attempts to throw you out of the tent that you discover Thing has tarried too long in the tar and the game's over.
Despite the frustration of this first problem. the game's still sufficiently interesting to keep you trying, as you wonder if the solution lies in battling with Blob, inside the circus tent, or in the hot little hands of the Human Torch himself.
The graphics are displayed on the top half of the screen, and very nice they are too. The text scrolls beneath in AI's typical jerky style and rather confused layout. My only quibble is with the price - a little on the pricey side compared with other adventures in the £6.95/7.95 range.