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Macbeth
By Creative Sparks
Commodore 64

 
Published in Personal Computer News #088

Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth are in residence at Cawdor Castle. Bob Chappell enjoys some superb adventures with the doomed pair.

Big Mac Rules Ok

Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth are in residence at Cawdor Castle. Bob Chappell enjoys some superb adventures with the doomed pair

Double, double toil and trouble - is this a dagger I see before me? No, 'tis an adventure. But is't done well? Aye, cousin, and that right so.

Sorry about that, but I am well and truly absorbed in Macbeth, a superb new adventure for the Commodore 64 from Creative Sparks (0252-54333). Macbeth oozes atmosphere and is so totally enthralling that you can't help talking like a cream-faced loon.

Based on Shakespeare's play, the entire package is the work of Oxford Digital Enterprises. The Macbeth package is handsomely boxed and includes two cassettes containing four separate, differently-styled yet connected adventures, an instruction bookley and a full scholarly edition of the play (edited from the 1623 original text) complete with notes and sundry essays.

As well as all this, the cassettes also contain four 'psychoanalysis' programs. I'll come back to these later, but you can see that for 14.95, you are getting a whole heap of material for your money - and it's all high quality, make no mistake.

Scots Wha' Hae'

The title sequence of the first adventure is most impressive. To start, you hear a chorus of Amazing Grace - played on the bagpipes. Cawdor Castle appears, lightning playing around the ramparts.

> Then cut to the blasted heath where, with the wind howling and moaning, the three witches (sorry, Will, weird sisters) huddle and converse before chaning into their familiar (animals to you). All that, and the adventure proper hasn't even loaded yet.

Don't that these adventures are just for serious minded Shakespeare buffs. While they contain plenty of educationally sound material, there is also some delicious tongue-in-cheek humour. Early in the adventure you'll find a newspaper - it turns out to be the first edition of The Scotsman dated April, 1040. The newspaper is simply a device for giving you updated progress reports. You can play any of the adventures in any order but you'll need to succeed at the first three to reach the final denouement in part four.

Adventure one is a mixture of text and graphics, the latter being most impressive and faithful to the atmosphere of the play. Sound effects (the creak of a trapdoor, the croak of a toad) add to the enjoyment. As Macbeth, you must soil your hands with the blood of the enemy. You must outwit or slay your adversaries and then discover a letter which is coded in 11th century runic script.

Take One Gall Of Goat

> Part two has you undergoing a swift sex change - you are now Lady Macbeth. In text only, you must masterind the murder of the King. The play itself holds many clues. What weapons and route will you choose? Can you persuade Macbeth to do the dirty deed? You have one hour to accomplish your fiendish plan.

You'll love reading Lady Macbeth's cook-book - actually her Theatrum Botanicum written by the King's Herbalift. An extract on the herb Camomill: "Haf many small trayling branches, set with very five leaves. A decoctation taketh away all paines and stitches in the sides'. Beats deadly nightshade in your soup!

Adventure three is all graphics, though responses and commands are given textually in a small window. The stunning pictures hold all the information and clues. You must find and collect the ten ingredients mentioned in the final incarnation of scene 18 (you know, charming things like eye of newt and toe of frog).

> The final part is text only and has you trying to defend beleaguered Dunsinane Castle. If the castle falls, escape is still possible. Can a final challenge from Macduff, who has the light of vengeance in his eyes, be averted? Provided you complete the first thre parts successfully, you're promised a final treat when emerging victorious from part four.

Help is on hand throughout the adventures, either in the form of riddles (and there's plenty of these) or be referring you to an appropriate scene in the play.

A Light Mac

And so to the 'analysis' programs which parallel the four adventures. These are interesting, educational and often downright hilarious. The idea is that, lying down on a motheaten couch in Cawdor Castle, you submit yourself to the analysis of Sigmund, Scotia's top alchemist and psychiatrist. Sigmund analyses and prompts, you answer as requested. The analysis will take different courses, depending on your answers. As well as being extremely funny in places, these programs enable you to gain valuable insights into the characters in the play. I can see English Literature teachers and students falling over themselves to get their hands on these - they are superb.

> Macbeth breaks new ground by combining adventure, scholarship and entertainment in one brilliant package. I cannot praise it too highly. Macbeth is the adventure of the year.

Dungeonaid

All prisoners in Phipps' Colditz - Achtung! You sink you haf ways of making me talk, Britisher pigdogs? So, you cannot find ze grate leading to ze sewer, nein? Ha! Vell, I varn you, it is not, repeat not, absolutely not, vizzin ein thousant miles of ze crypt coffin, and ze scribblings below are nussink but ze mere demented ravings of ein lunatic. Iz zat clear? (rabw orch tiw) DILR EVEL (revi rdwe rcsh tiw) ETAR GWER CSNU.

Mike Gerrard

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