Commodore User1st September 1986
Published in Commodore User #36
Hunchback: The Adventure
If you played The Neverending Story, you'll be familiar with the format of Hunchback. First you load the program, and then the data for part one. There are three parts in all, and each set of data is loaded into the resident program when required.
The game starts loading to a couple of catchy pieces of music, and then you start getting problems. A strip across the top of the screen displays a quite effective picture. This remains on the screen, whilst cameos of objects carried, and a mini location picture are superimposed upon it. The problem is that it is almost impossible to distinguish the cameos against the background, and the whole thing becomes a mess.
The text, blue on grey, is in an attractive gothic character set - attractive until you try to read it, when certain letters prove difficult to distinguish.
As Quasimodo, your task is to escapade from inside Notre Dame cathedral, challenge and beat the evil cardinal, and rescue the fair Esmerelda (she must have a lot of patience) whom he has imprisoned.
In your exploration of the cathedral, you are hindered by many guards, placed in position by the bishop, lackey of the cardinal. A lot of HIT GUARD entries are required, and eventually the guard will die, allowing you to pass. All this is accompanied by a commentary, and some biff thud graphics.
Unfortunately, sometimes the commentary gets screwed up, and you are treated to such gems as: "Your attack fails. You have killed the guard." Nice one.
Much of the text is humorous, and this comes over well. It is so easy to be corny in an adventure of this sort, but many of the descriptions and objects bring a definite smile, such as a book entitled "Bell Ringing for the Deaf". A pity, then, that it's not possible to read any of the various books that are lying around, for this would add a further dimension of humour to the game.
On the theme of bell-ringing, I come to my major gripe about the game - its vocabulary, or rather, lack of it. It is very limited, to say the least. A list of acceptable verbs is printed in the open-out cassette inlay. Admittedly they are described as 'verbs' in quotes, but the list includes directions. This is OK if you accept that entering a direction causes an action, as explained in the inlay, although it seems an unnecessary approach.
However, if you type a verb that isn't in the list, such as the command RING BELL, the response is: "There is no verb in that sentence." That is unforgivable.
Other key verbs that are missing, are KNELL, PRAY, PULL and EXAMINE. So it mainly appears to be a case of wandering around and doing what comes more or less naturally.
You'd better get it right though - becausue there is no "save".
Entertaining stuff if you fancy a light-hearted laugh at the expensive of a one-eyed hunchback, but not for me, I'm afraid.