Your Sinclair1st April 1990
Published in Your Sinclair #52
An obvious title for an adventure, and a bit of an obvious adventure too, but still quite fun for all that. There's a nice loading screen, which always gets a game off to a good start for me. It shows a half-finished jigsaw puzzle with the sign of the quaintly-named Dog And Rat pub flashing at you (so to speak). Ah-ha, then when the credits come up you see why it's good - it's by Shaun McClure, whose work always stands out from the crowd.
The game itself is a first attempt by Tony Marsh and Jackie Skinner, a text-only Quill'd effort that, to be honest, could have been written any time in the last six years with its two-word inputs. You know the style - GET KEY, EXAMINE KEY, UNLOCK DOOR, OPEN DOOR, WEST.
"I've just had a terrible nightmare? It begins. Nope, it's not that you've missed an issue of YS, just that you've been dreaming of a huge jigsaw puzzle with six pieces missing, and the only way to escape the nightmare is, of course, to find those pieces and unlock the jigsaw's secret. If the secret is the opening hours of the Dog And Rat then I'm all in favour. So you start by getting out of your sweat-drenched bed and discover that you're wearing a watch and a pair of wet jim-jams. Let's hope it's just sweat. The hands on the watch aren't moving, so time is standing still, which makes a pleasant change in an adventure game.
Before leaving the bedroom you must look everywhere, even under objects that aren't mentioned in the description but you might expect to find in a bedroom. Sneaky. There's a letter that tells you your cashcard number, and you're then advised to destroy the letter. Righty-ho, DESTROY LETTER. Nope, you can't do that. TEAR LETTER? RIP LETTER? EAT LETTER? Nope, non comprendez. CUT LETTER? "With what?" Ah-ha!
There are a few other tiny parsing faults, like when you find 'a piece of jigsaw' and you can't GET PIECE but must GET JIGSAW, that type of thing. Still, when you do find a piece there's a little trill from your Spectrum and 15% on your score. The first two bits are fairly easy to find, and it's a game best suited to beginners. I like the dream-like nature of it all - you can take an elevator to heaven or suddenly find a cash dispenser at the end of a narrow chamber hidden somewhere in your house.
If you're the type who's played a few dozen adventures you should have no trouble polishing off Puzzled! over the course of an evening or two - and enjoying it. Newcomers should like it even more, but remember that the order in which you do things is important, so roam around a bit first, make a map, find all the objects you can but don't carry them with you, just make a note of where they are. Then you should be able to start to piece together where the puzzles are, and which objects might help you solve them. End of tips for beginners.
If you like your adventures to be state-of-the-art then this ain't that, but it's still well put together and entertains while it lasts. Worth your attention, munchkins.