Mindfighter (Activision) Review | Amstrad Computer User - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Computer User

By Activision
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #46


The latest CPC/PCW adventure to reach us from Activision is the long awaited Mindfighter. It has been written by Anna Popkess and programmed by Fergus O'Neill of Delta 4 Software and Abstract Concepts fame. Past adventures from the same team have all been hits, and have had their own brand of humour stamped firmly on the final product.

Mindfighter (the computer game) comes with the book of the same name and is a departure from their previous style, both in the method of programming and in the approach to the story content.

This adventure is the first to be written using their new operating system, Swan (System Without A Name). As the game has appeared across so many formats, it would suggest that the core of Swan is machine independent, an important advantage for programmers and distributors in today's hectic rush to meet launch dates.

Fergus' previous hits include The Boggit, Colour of Magic and Bored of the Rings. All have had very successful satirical story lines that have brought a very special brand of humour to the adventure scene.

Mindfighter is completely different. The story takes place in Southampton in 1987. The main character is Robin, a 14-year-old boy who has paranormal powers. He is one of four students whose extra sensory abilities are being studied by an old professor.

While suffering from a series of traumatic events, Robin tries to look forward in time to see the results of his forthcoming exams. To his horror he awakens in 1988 (the book says 1969, oops!) to find that Southampton has been devastated by nuclear war.

In addition to the horrors of rotting bodies, starvation and the effects of radiation sickness, there is also the presence of The System - Chinese instigated bully boys who are using the survivors as slaves.

His friends back in 1987 manage to make contact and help him plan the defeat of The System and the freeing of their slaves. Having achieved this immediate objective, Robin returns to 1987 and the group sets about altering events to prevent the war ever starting.

Breaking The Rules

I found Mindfighter a difficult game to come to grips with. Any adventure must have a plot that fits a set of rules. Those rules and the logic that goes with them are defined by the writer.

They may put you on a spaceship of the far future, among a magical world of swords and sorcery or playing Sherlock Holmes in a London of the hansom cab, but whatever the situation, a plot stands or falls on the interpretation and consistency of its own rules. If magic exists and trolls are always evil, casting a fireball at a group of trolls is an accepted action.

Mindfighter is very much a story that could happen today. It could well be viewed as a cry from the heart for a more sane approach to humanity's present problems. There is a 150 page book that develops these problems and the efforts of a small group to put them to rights.

The preface of this book attempts to justify civil disobedience with a quotation by Albert Einstein. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a view held by many people today. But the inconsistency of this becomes all too clear when you learn that the hero of the piece, Robin, killed both his parents, killed the father of one of his friends and ultimately forms a group that will kill the ruler of Iran.

Whatever the justification for these actions, it is not following the theme of civil disobedience but that of anarchy. However much one wants to believe in the power of the mind and the right of the individual to take direct action, the setting is not an alternative universe, but here and now - in Southampton.

Without the book to back up the adventure I'm sure I would not have had these misgivings. The discrepancies derive from the book and not the computer game, but reading the book appears necessary to learn what the game is all about.

The parser accepts complex commands, and there is some interaction with several indepen- dent characters. Five letters need to be entered before a word is recognised, and responses to commands not acticMed could be a little better than "That wasn't possible" and "I didn't understand that". Graphics accompany each location, but the same small group of pictures is used repeatedly. Nevertheless they are well drawn and fully support the story's atmosphere. The descriptive text pictures the stark reality of post nuclear desolation and although not for the squeamish, it does set the scene for Robin's adventure very dramatically.

Mapping is very important: Mindfighter is one of those adventures that is totally illogical with regards to movement between locations. Some have exits or entrances that are only accessible in one direction. In some places you travel east to go west. And most confusing of all is when you go south, turn round and go north to another location altogether. Although I do not approve of this confusion for confusion's sake, it certainly adds another aspect to the normal business of mapping.

Pressing Return without having entered any command brings up the icon display. By using the arrow keys this allows you to choose a number of standard options including ram, disc or cassette save/load of the game position and sending the descriptive text to a printer.

Altogether, I think that Mindfighter is an interesting exercise in computer adventures. The game is good, if a little difficult, but it is let down by the book.

Bill Brock

Other Amstrad CPC464 Game Reviews By Bill Brock

  • Dark Sceptre Front Cover
    Dark Sceptre
  • Life-Term Front Cover
  • Double Gold: Black Fountain Plus Sharpe's Deeds Front Cover
    Double Gold: Black Fountain Plus Sharpe's Deeds
  • Necris Dome Front Cover
    Necris Dome
  • Gnome Ranger Front Cover
    Gnome Ranger
  • Werewolf Simulator Front Cover
    Werewolf Simulator
  • Smashed Front Cover
  • The Bard's Tale Front Cover
    The Bard's Tale
  • The Quest For The Golden Eggcup Front Cover
    The Quest For The Golden Eggcup
  • Stationfall Front Cover