Inspector Flukeit
By Axxent
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #43

Inspector Flukeit

A professional cover bounds this cassette's worth of frivolity, with some of the smallest writing you could get on an inlay forming the instructions. But you'll need guidance - this isn't the straightforward affair it first appears.

Inspector Flukeit features conversations between characters - interrogations, as once again you take the role of investigator. The character interactions boil down to little more than chalking up some everyday banter or directly asking a character to hand over something you want to examine, but don't write the game off as a con trick; considering it's a cheap game, it's surprising how often it comes up with clever retorts to your input. And a REPEAT LAST COMMAND button shows some of the refinement in its programming.

As the eponymous Inspector Flukeit, you're called in to solve the mysterious disappearance of the brilliant Professor Mundle. You are ably assisted by your sidekick, Blunders, who is accident-prone but a helpful sort of chap. Together you must track down clues, interrogate suspects, and finally hand over the perpetrators of the ghastly crime. Blunders is your chief ally, reflected in the instructions with this set displayed prominently: SAY TO BLUNDERS, ASK BLUNDERS, TELL BLUNDERS, BLUNDERS! After a while you wonder if the chap is misnamed, as he becomes almost dependably useful.

Inspector Flukeit

Other characters around the professor's Radley Mansion, including the porter, maid and gardener, might prove useful, though the diary found in the library gave me the easiest advance. And when the going is rough, a well-timed examination of the surroundings often smooths the way. Failing that, the adventure has a VERBS command which brings up some of the useful verbs allowed.

If it's the unresponsive characters giving you a hard time (they often daydream while you're talking to them, missing everything you say, or just gaze at you with a funny look), perhaps they'd like something from you to put their minds at ease and allow you to probe more deeply...

I've left the bad news about this game till last. This flaw was so bad that I almost gave up playing Inspector Flukeit before I got into it. The game, commendably, is written around the author's own system (termed 'Worldscape') but, as so often with homemade systems, the input routine is dodgy, leaving you wallowing and bogged down in keys.

It's not the worst input system I've played, it's just a little slow - and there's no beep on inputting each letter, which makes it all the more uncertain. The dropping of the usual input cursor is disorienting, and the game itself is very slow and ponderous, a reminder of BASIC days.

There aren't many pictures, and those that do pop up - to scroll quickly off again - are not of a high quality. And the look and feel of the screen is somewhat Hobbit-like, right down to the omnipresent WAIT marching roughshod over everything.

Inspector Flukeit is a terribly slow program and might test the patience of some, but for those who persevere there's a super little detective story just waiting to be discovered.

It's one of the first releases on the Top Ten label, which launched in June.

DIFFICULTY: use VERBS command and all should flow fine GRAPHICS: sparse and simple PRESENTATION: average INPUT FACILITY: beyond verb/noun RESPONSE: S-L-O-W

Derek Brewster

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