Personal Computer News

Game Of Three

Author: Mike Gerrard
Publisher: Richard Shepherd
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Personal Computer News #097

Bob Chappell makes a flying visit to Upper Gumtree, the setting of Richard Shepherd Software's latest adventure, to explore quirky goings-on in the capital of Wallydom.

Gang Of Three

Bob Chappell makes a flying visit to Upper Gumtree, the setting of Richard Shepherd Software's latest adventure, to explore quirky goings-on in the capital of Wallydom

If you thought life was bad as an urban upstart in Scarthorpe, wait till you visit Upper Gumtree. At least there was a bit of action in grimy old Scarthorpe, with its friendly football muggers and vigilant police, but action in Upper Gumtree means beans on toast for tea or taking the dog for a walk.

Yes, it's a quiet place all right. Or it was till Professor Blowitovitz moved in. So what's wrong with the Prof? Well, this is an adventure game so he can't be sane, can he? He has to be a mad professor. He causes strange events to start happening, like making people's noses glow in the dark and causing Tuesdays to disappear completely.

Aliard's Tome

His ultimate aim, naturally, is total world domination. Your ultimate aim, naturally, is to stop him... well, you and Emma and Wally, the gang of three.

If you sampled Urban Upstart, and lots of people did, you'll know author Peter Cooke has a marvellous sense of humour, and Upper Gumtree is a similarly styled follow-up, allowing for the quick visit he made to Dante's Inferno in between.

While down there he seems to have been won over to the Commodore 64, as Upper Gumtree is only available for that machine (from February 20) at £6.50 from Richard Shepherd Software (06286-63531). A disk version is on its way, for £9.50. The company sent me an early disk copy of the adventure for PCN, though playing without instructions didn't make things any easier.


Aliard's Tome

Those have now arrived though, so let's look at features first, then try taking Gumtree by storm. If you don't like the text colours then the F1 key will run through a variety of options till you find one that suits you, while F7 can be used to repeat your last command.

Inputs can also be linked together using AND, THEN or +, they can be printed out at fast, medium or slow speeds, and you can also have graphics on or graphics off.

If your picture starts to look a little funny, don't worry, it's probably only night falling. Gumtree is played in real time, and the events reflect this... no good battering on the pub door in the middle of the night, it's closed. Though why you should want to in view of what happens when you go there during the day, I don't know.

Aliard's Tome

You can also hold the game, to prevent time marching on and Emma getting impatient, and talk to the other two main characters by saying WALLY DROP GLOVES. Wally will probably tell you to naff off, but never mind, that's just another hurdle to overcome.

I found Gumtree's hurdles generally tougher than those of Urban Upstart, and the adventure a lot more interesting because more is going on. The humour this time round was little less sparkling - probably because Scarthorpe offers more scope than the town and country mix of Upper Gumtree does.

But there are still lots of laughs to be had. I loved the local bobby PC Plod, who has a tendency to fall off his bicycle and pops up to interrogate you when you take something you shouldn't. Be careful what you say to him - remember he's not the Brain of Britain. He's not even the Brain of Upper Gumtree.

Below The Belt

You begin, though, in a quiet country lane, a typical rural scene: bees buzzing, birds singing and a Ford Anglia quietly rusting by the roadside. You're also accompanied by Emma and Wally, Emma being by far the more co-operative of the two.

She's not that co-operative, though. Try getting too friendly and you're reminded that she has a judo black belt. She also has a pair of scissors, and will carry things when your arms are full, but she won't give them back to you till you've carried out a particular task.

She wanders around, usually close at hand, though Wally initially remains immobile for reasons not unconnected with the above-mentioned Ford Anglia and gloves. I haven't figured out how to get the badly-needed gloves off Wally, but this adventure is planned so that there's lots of roaming about you can do without getting held up by a particular problem.

It helps considerably, however, if you can figure out how to stop the bull chasing you when you find yourself outside its field... unfortunately, the bull's outside the field, too. I was gored to death a few times before figuring it out, not to mention being pitchforked to death by Farmer Giles till I discovered something that took his fancy. I was also lured into blowing myself up, so I recommend making full use of the save feature.

The Score command gives you a percentage, as well as telling you what time and day it is, and after a few hours of compulsive playing I'd managed 46 per cent, with the problems at that stage getting tougher and tougher.

I enjoyed my wanders round Upper Gumtree, despite the hazards on the golf course, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the railway station sports a sign saying it's the Best Kept Station of the Year. Closer inspection reveals that the year was 1923. Oh well. But the game will be getting closer inspection from me, and I recommend you give it one too. Highly enjoyable.

Tome Stone

There's just room to mention one of Romik's new titles, Alliard's Tome, also for the C64. Romik has released two text-only adventures, but Animal Magic I found silly and sloppily laid out on the screen.

Aliards Tome, though, was an excellent atmospheric romp round underground caverns... not that I romped very far. Just enough to discover ten chests, then a sleeping orc holding a bunch of keys. EXAMINE KEYS. There are ten of them - I might have known. But the orc wakes up ever time I make a move. Drat. And the giant's no use, he just sits round moping, even after I'd gone to the trouble of finding his belt for him.

Alliard's Tome I'd recommend, but you should certainly get Upper Gumtree first - and don't blame me if you can't get down again.

Mike Gerrard

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