Amstrad Action1st April 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #7
There are already a number of budget adventures on the market - most notably the "Quilled" series of games from Eighth Day that were reviewed a couple of months back. Now a company called Central Solutions has joined the fray with a whole bevy of games retailing for £1.99.
The first thing about these games is that they are not "Quilled" games, but (I reckon) BASIC efforts. I've only seen one so far, Mansion, and believe me, "basic" is the word that springs to mind.
First, the plot. In Mansion's case, this is pretty basic - you must recover a large jewel from a stately home. Very original, I must say. I can remember at least one other game with an identical theme.
Next, the vocabulary. This is also of the basic variety - basically, you get very few words that you would expect and welcome. Words like "LOOK" are not understood, nor is "EXAMINE". You can get things, of course, and even perform one or two other unusual commands, but don't expect much help from the vocabulary.
The program itself is also, well, basic. You get a room description at the top of the screen, and right down the bottom you get a prompt for your input. Each time you hit the ENTER key, the program BEEPs importantly and flashes up its response. The response is usually one of the following:
Eh? I THINK you're talking a load of rubbish What are you on about?
And so on. There are other messages of incomprehension to be had, and believe me, after a few minutes, you'll have had them all. Understanding your inputs is not this program's strong point. It certainly doesn't get as far as telling you which word it doesn't understand, but since it falls over LOOK, EXAMINE, and other common commands, the chances are that it may not have understood anything!
So does this little gem have anything at all to recommend it? Well, the first thing is that there are enough locations to give a reasonable scenario upon which the action can take place. Unfortunately, there isn't that much action, but you can't have everything, can you? There are a couple of nice touches - the room descriptions will occasionally vary according to where you've come from. Enter the corridor from a bedroom and the program will tell you that 'You leave the room to find yourself in the corridor...', whereas if you move from one section of the corridor to another, it will say 'You continue along the corridor'. Let's face it, these are not the sort of things that best-selling games are made of.
And what do I make of all this? Well, on balance, I'm inclined to think that, at £1.99, these games are seriously over-priced...