Amstrad Computer User

Black Fountain/Sharpe's Deeds

Author: Bill Brock
Publisher: Incentive
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #35

Black Fountain/Sharpe's Deeds

Last month we looked at Incentive's first Double Gold package - The Mountains Of Ket and Top Secret. This month we can go further along this golden trail with the second release: Black Fountain and Sharpe's Deeds. Both are written by Linda Wright, a new name in the field of adventures. From these initial offerings, we can only hope she grows like the proverbial acorn and becomes a regular and worthy purveyor of what we like. Both games are fairly logical, not too difficult and should give both newcomers and more experienced players a good run for their money.

Black Fountain is in two parts, each with over 50 locations and a host of items to examine, pick up and use. The action takes place on another world that has a less involved way of life than our own. The level of technology is probably equivalent to our middle ages, and magic still has many years to go before cynicism and science will overcome its potency. The kingdoms are loosely ruled by High Chancellors. They respond to potential threats by acting on information from their Chief Officials, who are scattered about their lands. Aguna is the High Chancellor in the city of Loesp in the kingdom of Espadis. Under Aguna's rule is a Chief Official called Istanus, who is forever calling for help. Just like the little boy who cried Wolf too often, Istanus' pleas for help are not always treated with the seriousness they deserve.

You play the part of Shardor, a minor official in the Court of Loesp. Your three older brothers have been sent to Istanus to investigate rumours of contamination of the river 1st. It is thought that this is caused by Abhaldos, an evil eccentric, who lives in the far north of the realm, Nothing more is heard of your brothers and the situation is forgotten - until one day an urgent message arrives from Istanus...

Now is the chance you have been waiting for, the stage is set, the die is cast etc. etc. You offer your services to Aguna, and to your surprise they are accepted. Your quest for Abhaldos, his evil Black Fountain and your missing brothers has begun!

Normal Verb/Noun inputs will suffice for most of your journey, but more complex or specific commands (such as HIT DOOR WITH STAFF) may be required on occasion. You may use IT to refer to the last noun used and multiple inputs are accepted if they are separated by AND, THEN, a comma or a full stop. Sadly the interpreter will not recognise ALL (as in DROP ALL).

There is plenty to find and a recurrent type of puzzle in Black Fountain is finding the right object to give to the right character. Fortunately you can carry quite a number of items, so the red herrings will not cause you too much trouble. Likewise there is plenty to examine, so keep your eyes peeled and check everything carefully. You can interact with most of the people you meet - try the messenger in scene one for starters. At first, many of them just shrug their shoulders and say nothing. But, if you have some money and something they need, they become more than helpful.

There are several actions you can take that lead to an untimely demise, so a regular saving is the order of the day. Make sure though that you only try and load back in data from the appropriate part - otherwise you may find yourself carrying some strange things and the program may crash.

To move on to the second part you need to learn the passwords given as you open a door hidden behind a cuddly bear in a cave in the Norst Mountains. To succeed in part two, five objects are needed from part one (in addition to clothing). As you will not be given the passwords unless you have the correct items make a note of where everything is - at least that makes it easier to go back to the missing odds and ends.

The second part follows the pattern of the first - having the right things at the right time with death always just around the corner. Stay alert, examine everything and I'm sure you will succeed where your brothers failed.

Last Will And...

Sharpe's Deeds is not a particularly novel plot, but the story hangs together well. And, like the Black Fountain. there are plenty of places to explore and interesting objects to find. You play the part of a great nephew (or niece) of recently deceased Ferdinand Sharpe. You are named in the will as the sole beneficiary to his estate, but of course there is a catch. You must first find a dozen special treasures and Great Uncle Ferdy's Deeds before you may inherit the rest.

The action all takes place in and around a village in Somerset. There is the village pub, the village pond and the village green. If the locals talk to you, they use that quaint "Err, Arr” dialect that really only seems to be found on postcards and the telly. There are angry swans and bulls, and several devious puzzles that may require a bit of word searching to find the right action verb to bring about the desired result.

It's a shorter adventure than the Black Fountain, but constructed with the same command interpreter: Both have been written using Incentive's Graphic Adventure Creator, The problems you will meet are slightly more tricky and if in real trouble, Incentive will send you a hint sheet on receipt of an sae. If you do resort to this - get someone else to read the clues for you. They are rather explicit and could well tell you things that would spoil the rest of the game.

Let's hope Linda can keep up with the need for good adventures and give us a few more in the future. I wonder if her style will change? So far the watchwords must be - examine everything and be generous to those you meet.

Bill Brock

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