Twice Shy is the title of a book by best-selling thriller author Dick Francis, and is set in the world of horse racing. Ram Jam Corporation have taken the book and turned it into a composite adventure and betting game.
The book is not provided in the package, and you don't need to read the novel before being able to complete the adventure. However, reading it in advance of playing the game will add to your enjoyment - and provide some useful background.
In the adventure game, you play the part of schoolteacher Jonathan Derry. You find yourself in your sitting room with your wife Sarah. The phone is ringing, and Sarah has to leave hurriedly on a mercy mission to Norwich, to help some friends, the Keithlys.
Donna Keithly is in trouble - she has stolen someone's baby.
A look around the house yields all sorts of interesting objects, including a sharp knife, an Enfield rifle and bullets, plus a cheque for £150.
Outside is your dusty if not trusty old Peugeot, and soon your are driving round the M25 near Northolt.
In an adventure which allows travel over long distances, with freedom to choose different routes, and has detailed local scenarios, there is considerable difficulty in providing a realistic mechanism for movement.
Ram Jam achieve this very well, limiting motorway routes by getting your irretrievably lost at interchanges, yet allowing turn-offs where they are relevant.
Petrol can be a problem if you make a mess of the route, but not to worry, a cheery AA man will tow you to a garage. He'll even repair the car for you if you inadvertently try to drive south down the northbound carriageway - for a price!Arriving at the Keithly's, you find Sarah already talking to Donna and her husband Peter. If you are a drinking man, it won't be long before some cassette tapes fall into your hands, in rather worrying circumstances.
There are characters around who would dearly love to get hold of them. And as soon as they realise you have them, they probably will!
Ram Jam has written this game using the latest version of The Biro, and very near it is too. I played the Spectrum version.
The screen is divided into four windows. The text window occupies the bottom half. Conversation with the player takes place here - using a redefined set of 48 characters per line.
Above this is the location description window, again with a new set of characters, but this time slightly bigger.
A fixed graphic 'title' showing a horse's head, rosettes, and horse racing tops the location window, whilst to the left of these windows is the current location graphic.
Although this occupies only about one sixth of the screen, the pictures are extremely effective, and artistically drawn.
The whole presentation is extremely professional, with a colourful and attractive look and feel about it. With all these windows, and a parser that accepts fairly complex commands, including speech, the response time is amazing. A change of location is usually a good test for the longest response, requiring changes in text and graphics. In Twice Shy, the prompt is back in under two seconds!
A completely novel feature of the game, is that when you are at the racecourse, you can type RACE, and move from the adventure into a horse racing simulation.
How much money you have for a flutter is determined by your financial state in the adventure.
An "event" consists of six races, each with four runners. The weather, going, and distance is displayed, and the form of each horse can be called up, before your bets are placed.
At the off, the face is displayed graphically, and if you watch carefully, you'll notice the position of the horses reflects how they are faring. The one nearest the top of the screen is the horse named first in the list of runners.
Twice Shy is an unusual and entertaining package, containing two games for the price of one, or, if you prefer, one big game with a difference!