By Clwyd Adventure Software
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #33


A new company of keen adventurers, this one, set up to produce challenging adventures which keep to their own critical standards and provide value for money. There's only one thing wrong with the company's stated philosophy (ignoring the fact that this game is nothing special just for the moment) the price of £7.95 is far and away above what other similar teams are asking for similar standard games.

In the middle of the 21st Century, after years of patient research, Hugo Skoltz, a brilliant scientist, finally succeeded in producing an interstellar drive unit theoretically capable of propelling a ship through space faster than the speed of light. The first ship to be fitted with the Skoltz drive was loaded up with a cargo of test animals and despatched under computer control to a destination eleven light years from Earth.

The test ship had been programmed to remain in the target area for 24 hours and then return, so the Works settled down to wait for its expected reappearance, around 14 months after the departure. When the ship returned, its mission completed after only fifteen days, the human race now realised the shackles chaining it to Earth were gone. Man's age-old dream of conquering the stars was about to become a reality.


The race to build the new starships began. With the rapid advances in technology over the previous fifty years, the techniques required were already available and Governments, Private Corporations, in fact anyone who could raise the huge sums required, all became engrossed in Mankind's latest adventure. One by one, and manned now by human crews, the ships slipped away to explore the stars.

Yet the flow was not one-way. The great ships that now departed the Solar System with their cargoes of human seed did not return empty. The wealth of a hundred worlds flowed back to the Mother Planet and Earth became a world of plenty. Although a few specimens of alien life had already found their way to Earth it was not until 2130 that the idea of a vast zoo filled with such creatures was first conceived. Billed as the Futurezoo it met man's craving for ever more bizarre forms of entertainment but then, in the vicinity of a small and largely unregarded solar system, Mankind met the Senissa, a strange alien race of a similar technological level as Mankind.

Against the background of the ever-increasing threat of interstellar conflict, the two races signed a peace treaty during which the Great Seal of Senissa, a most revered artefact, was handed over to the Earthlings as a lasting tribute to the treaty. The Earth Ambassador took the next available flight home, a freighter transporting alien life-forms to Futurezoo. As unloading began on Earth a freak accident released the cargo to roam free aboard the ship. It was during the investigation into the accident that the Security Forces were alerted to the fact that one of the creatures destined for the Futurezoo had taken the Great Seal of Senissa. As head of the investigation you are the one now responsible for the Seal's safe return.

Being a sensible chappie you decide to begin your investigation at the Futurezoo. An inventory shows you are wearing a warm coat and a nearby robot is selling tickets. A shrewd player will have these swapped in no time to ensure access to the zoo grounds. No sooner have you entered the grounds when another passing robot gives you a raffle-ticket (all these robots seem a trifle careless with their tickets) which no doubt will be put to good use later. Sadly, it won't be long before you meet another robot who isn't so friendly. It man-handles you out of the park whenever you trample on the flower borders or transgress (however unwittingly) the park's rules. Getting back in isn't an easy matter either. This is not the only danger as you wander round collecting the torch, spade, red fish and (totally unyielding) step ladders as a trip through the carnivorous plants building will soon show.

One of the better aspects of this dame are the wonderfully evocative location descriptions, one of which runs like this: 'You are in the centre of a wide paved plaza, near a fountain which sprays water high into the air. Visitors sit at low tables nearby and several small children scamper after a ball thrown by a patient robot-nurse maid. To the west a row of red and yellow booths stands at the edge of the plaza'.

Futurezoo is a game which has been well presented for review but sadly the adventure is not quite up to scratch. In text-only adventures, the memory released from the chore of forming pictures can be expended on providing a deeper game with friendly vocabulary and atmosphere-creating EXAMINE and LOOK commands. Unfortunately Futurezoo has neither a friendly vocabulary, nor an EXAMINE command worth mentioning, and therefore can only be described as disappointing. The player feels alienated from the game as not much beyond 'Sorry, I don't understand. Try some different words' can be achieved in any reasonable length of time, and trying any other words doesn't seem to do anything. The lack of a HELP option just adds to the feeling of playing a most unhelpful adventure.

Only having the main compass directions (N, E, S, W), and using a bright yellow background to the black print (like trying to read the print on a light bulb), with a conspicuous lack of proof reading are not damning features on their own, but put alongside the unfriendly vocabulary, in what is a text-only adventure, then the evidence for the prosecution becomes overbearing.

Futurezoo is available from CUNYD ADVENTURE SOFTWARE, 14 Snowdon Avenue, Bryn-y-Baal, Mold, Clywd CH7 65Z.


Difficulty: reasonably easy
Graphics: none
Presentation: poor, no highlights of inventory etc
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: it's that quick Quill again!

Derek Brewster

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