The Cornwall Enigma
It's not often you see adventures written specifically for the Commodore these days. As most are conversions from other formats, The Cornwall Enigma is a breath of fresh air - not only is it currently C64 only, but author Lee Morrell coded it without a utility. SAVE and FONT routines were added by John Wells. Amazing!
Set in the quaint old Cornish town of Alesbury, it's really two adventures in one - uncover the town's mysterious secret, then find some means of getting home! You'll get a frosty reception from the 'Hammer and Anvil' heavy drinkers, meet a BR guard who's as competent as Robert Maxwell's swimming instructor, and wonder about the significance of Cunning Harry's monument?
The first thing you notice is the long, flowing location descriptions. They give a real feeling of being there, but I wish the author would learn how to use commas! Breaking up, text with far, too much, punctuation is, very, annoying and makes it lose, its immediacy (if you see what I mean). Despite this, the intriguing, laid-back atmosphere is preserved, playing a bit like a Famous Five book without the tackiness. Much of what's described won't affect the game, but don't let this stop you examining EVERYTHING - its very easy to miss something important!
Overall, presentation's fair, but marred by oversensitive inputting. Response is so damned finicky that unless you type with one finger you'll end up with loads of repeated letters, forcing you to go back and re-type. Inputting the same command three or four times isn't uncommon - it's enough to drive you insane! John's fonts are superb and the inclusion of a ramsave facility is a real boon. White-on-black text reduces eye strain considerably, though highlighting exits in a different colour would've helped.
I couldn't find any bugged responses but there are a couple of spelling mistakes ("feild", the church "alter"). Far more serious is a blinding programming error - at one stage in the game you find a SPEAR HEAD. Fair enough, but GET SPEAR HEAD won't work! Why? Because the program only recognises the object as a SPEARHEAD, even though the message text includes the space! This is a very sloppy piece of programming that could ruin the game for a beginner.
The Cornwall Enigma is good, but by no means great. Its atmosphere and character can't be faulted, with occasional but unobtrusive slices of humour keeping the game flowing. Problems are fair, and there's always something to do. It could be a little more interactive, and when you discover the 'secret' of Alesbury you'll wonder how it stayed a secret for so long. But these are minor moans - it's that bleedin' keyboard catastrophe that kills it off. Think carefully before you buy.