Grand Larceny
By Melbourne House
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #2

Grand Larceny

Now for something completely different. Well, almost completely different. Remember Zim Sala Bim from Melbourne House? Or African Safari from Interdisc? These games, in case you've been imprisoned by Shareth the Heartstealer for the last few months, belong to an unusual category known as 'joystick adventures' and Grand Larceny, by the same author, falls into the same slot.

They feature a split screen with a horizontally scrolling graphics window above and a text window below. You control a character using direction keys or a joystick, and as you move him (yes, girls, it's a 'him' again) left and right, he wanders past moving scenery to reveal new locations.

The locations and objects therein can be manipulated and explored by entering simple commands at the keyboard and the results of your inputs (if valid) are shown in animated sequences on the screen. The only drawback is that the range of commands is limited, and in Grand Larceny you only have 24 verbs to play with.

Grand Larceny

The action takes place in the Grand Hotel which you must infiltrate and explore as you search for the plans for a new super computer, probably the Commodore 512 but I couldn't swear.

One of the problems with Zim Sala Bim was the agonising slowness with which you walked from location to location. Grand Larceny is much better in this respect and you can select different action speeds using the number keys. Personally I doubt if anyone will want to play at less than the highest speed, which is just about tolerable.

The graphics aren't anything to write home about and there are some rather minor glitches in the scroll routines, but the music is excellent. My only gripe was that it didn't vary sufficiently throughout the game.

Unfortunately the program isn't very kind to the player if he/she enters an inappropriate command, responding with "I can't" to everything it doesn't understand. Another drawback is that there aren't a huge number of locations to explore since the graphics are pretty greedy on memory space.

Traditional adventurers will probably throw up their hands in horror at the sight of Grand Larceny (and rightly so!), but I reckon that some younger players will enjoy it.

The White Wizard

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