Your Sinclair

Kobyashi Naru
By Mastertronic
Spectrum 48K/128K/+2

Published in Your Sinclair #19

Kobyashi Naru

Another interesting budget adventure from Mastertronic, the first challenge being to figure out what the *&#! the title means, though the inlay says it's the final trial for those who would be one with the immortals. Fair enough. This is one of those attempts to produce an icon-driven game that's pretty close to your conventional text adventure, presumably on the grounds that anything you can do, icons do better. I'm not convinced this is a good thing, as what's the point of taking up memory producing pretty little pictures representing GET or DROP when you could just type the thing in at the keyboard?

I'm not knocking the game, though, as I liked it, though that's maybe got a lot to do with its novelty value as well. The game's compatible with the Kempston joystick, or you can use the cursor keys to move around the screen. At the top and sides are 23 icons, and you move the cursor round to choose the one you want. As well as the obvious EXAMINE, GO NORTH, QUIT and so on, there are some like ANALYSE which work in conjunction with the text that appears below the picture in the centre of the screen. Choose ANALYSE and the cursor highlights the first word of the text description. It can then be moved about so that you can analyse whatever's there. In one place, for example, there's "a myriad of tiny creatures scurrying about." Select ANALYSE and move the cursor to highlight 'creatures' and you're told: "Small animals capable of great speed." Other commands include THROW, SWIM, JUMP, USE, PUSH, PULL and so forth.

In the adventure itself you're initially presented with three portals marked WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING, and through each is a quest that has to be fulfilled before you'll be allowed back through the portal - unless you quit, of course. Some people might hate the restriction on the problem solving that an icon-controlled game offers, but to make up for that the problems do seem to be pretty devious! Definitely worth checking out at this price.

Mike Gerrard

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