Hollywood Hi-Jinx
By Infocom
Commodore 64/128

Published in Computer & Video Games #67

Hollywood Hi-Jinx

This is one of Infocom's best, written by new author 'Hollywood' Dave Anderson, who in 1983 joined Infocom as a tester, and after progressing to manager of testing, became a game writer in 1985.

Your Uncle Buddy Burbank was a Hollywood big-shot in his time. He and his wife Hildegarde were not blessed with children and, as kids, you and your cousins spent many happy holidays at their superb seaside mansion.

Buddy died some years ago, and now, following the recent death of Hildegarde, you are attending the reading of her will.

Hollywood Hi-Jinx

Imagine your amazement when you hear they are leaving their entire estate to you, their favourite nephew! But there is one snag - you must spent a night in the mansion and its grounds and find ten treasures hidden on the premises by morning.

On your arrival, you head to the porch, full of anticipation - and find the door is locked.

But wait, there's a back door, just by the patio. It just couldn't be that easy though, could it? Of course, that door too, is locked. There's not an awful lot more you can do, unless you fancy chancing your arm in the hedge maze - and how well you remember the days when Aunt Hildegarde warned you about going in there without a map!

Hollywood Hi-Jinx

At this point, the game becomes infuriating, but what are adventures about if not the satisfaction gained from finding you are clever enough to solve logical problems? So there must be a way in, and the means is staring you in the face right from the start. When there's nothing left to do, you will turn to it, and, perhaps, it will turn to you! As a puzzle - sheer poetry!

This is a house full of traps and surprises, and just to make you feel uneasy, the sound of nearby footsteps is sometimes heard... Something heavy falls to the floor upstairs... Are you being manipulated? Or is one of your other cousins prowling, trying to prevent you from getting the treasures? There is plenty of food for thought in many of the puzzles in Hollywood Hi-Jinx, meaning that they are the sort you can chew over, and come up with a number of angles of attack.

There is also food for thought in the parser and vocabulary, for Infocom's is now beginning to look a little old in the tooth, when compared with that of Magnetic Scrolls.

A visit to the bedroom you used to sleep in on your holidays, reminds you of the time when you slept in the bottom bunk, and cousin Herman got sick in the top bunk... You got your own back later by sticking honey up his nose, and was soon in trouble for being out of bed with a cold. That is just one small example of the depth of the background theme that runs throughout the game.

An excellent adventure with some difficult but very rewarding puzzles.