Amstrad Action

Magnetic Moon

Author: The Balrog
Publisher: FSF Adventures
Machine: Amstrad 6128/PCW

Published in Amstrad Action #72

Magnetic Moon

I've been eagerly awaiting Magnetic Moon for some time now. Originally written on the Electron, then converted to the BBC and then to the Spectrum (each conversion an improvement on the previous version), Magnetic Moon has been anticipated on the Amstrad for quite a while, but finally it's here - and the wait's been worth it!

The storyline is hardly original, but then it has been some years since it was first conceived! The date is 9th June 2153AD and you are Sub-Lieutenant Mike Erlin, assistant Astro navigation officer on board the Survey Spaceship Stellar Queen. While on patrol, you lose all contact with your scoutship, the Pathfinder. On arriving at the last known position of the scoutship, the Queen is nearly wrecked as a powerful tractor beam drags it down onto the surface of a nearby moon.

Fortunately, the ship sustains little damage, but the sensors show that a powerful magnetic field is preventing the Stellar Queen from escaping. The source of this magnetic field is found to be a huge underground installation, generating vast amounts of energy.

You, as ever the eager adventurer, volunteer to join the search party, but your Captain says you must stay on board to help supervise repairs! After nearly two years of routine survey work, the chance to get in on some *real* action is just too good to miss. So you decide to disobey the captain by jumping ship and searching for the underground installation on your own...

This is where part one of Magnetic Moon starts - on the bridge of the Stellar Queen with Captain Rumsey, Commander Adams and Lieutenant Rodders busying themselves for departure. (If you recognise any of the previous names, you might also recognise Midshipman Grue, Chief Engineer Bond and Lieutenant Whyte!)

Part one is meant to be an introduction to the rest of the game. Nearly everything can be examined and there's lots of things to do - just don't expect the puzzles to be introductory because they're not!

The first major problem you are faced with is escaping from the Stellar Queen. Not easy when the main airlock is peopled by the search party (who certainly won't let you escape) and Midshipman Grue is on guard duty.

Directions on the ship are in naval form (port, forward, etc) and, although I personally prefer normal compass directions, these terms add to the ship atmosphere.

On board the Stellar Queen, you'll find a whole plethora of objects that can be taken. Unfortunately, you can't carry them all, so you must choose! The rest of part one is on the surface of the moon itself, navigating derelict freighters in the search for the installation. The puzzles don't get any easier after leaving the Stellar Queen, either - good luck supporting those loose plates!

Part two is set inside the mystery installation and features a well thought out maze inhabited by the cute cleaning robot Jojo and loads of verbose text and clever puzzles. The installation is inhabited (I'm not saying who by, as I don't want to give too much away!), and there is always a constant fear of being discovered. I was biting my claws all the way through - a testament to the game's atmospheric descriptions.

Part three has even more puzzles and great text but I won't say anything more. Suffice to say, if you enjoyed the game as much as I did, you'll be itching to play Starship Quest!

Larry Horsfield, the author, is a perfectionist when writing adventures and Magnetic Moon shows this. Larry has spent much time and effort listening to playtesters' comments and has created a game with oodles of text, loads of brilliant puzzles and an atmosphere of - dare I say it - early Infocom standards.

Parser-wise, there are numerous ways of manipulating objects and looking in places. You can look around, look over, look under, look in and you can also look in various directions! You can also search and examine various objects and places. Larry uses adverbs in some puzzles as well, adding to the difficulty.

Magnetic Moon is a massive game. There's so much in it that it'll take you a long time to complete. In my opinion, it's the best game of the year!

The Balrog

Other Amstrad 6128/PCW Game Reviews By The Balrog

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