Amstrad Computer User

Not A Penny More Not A Penny Less

Author: Bill Brock
Publisher: Domark
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #45

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less

I am a great fan of Jeffrey Archer and having got the Amstrad CPC version of Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, I was really looking forward to playing the game. Sadly I have found it one of the most frustrating I have ever played on the Amstrad.

The computer game follows the general plot of the novel. A young American academic working at Oxford University finds he has been swindled out of $250,000. He then finds three other people who have suffered the same fate. One man, Harvey Metcalfe, was responsible for the financial disaster that affected all of them. The four men decide to put together an elaborate scheme to regain their lost money - not a penny more, not a penny less.

You play the American, Stephen Bradley. The game starts in his room at Magdalen College Oxford, with Stephen looking at a folder that will eventually contain information on the other three who have been swindled, together with what he can find out about Harvey. Each time you learn a relevant fact, it will be recorded in the dossiers in the folder.

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less

The folder also contains some useful telephone numbers, which I had the very devil of a job trying to read. The instructions do warn you that, like a book, you will be guided through the plot, with no real freedom of action. You must solve the present puzzle before you can move on to the next. Certain actions will be accepted at one point but not at another.

Having looked around the room, I tried to examine the telephone numbers. No luck. I tried reading them. Again no joy. I spent a good half hour trying to get those numbers, as I knew it was possible. Eventually I quit the game and started again. This time I tried for the numbers as soon as I started. Bingo, three valuable telephone numbers! What makes the situation somewhat worse is that you must type the word in full - no shortened forms are accepted. Even movement requires GO NORTHEAST in full.

So what stopped me getting those numbers the first time round? Was it just a mini bug, or did I do something in the wrong order? Whatever the answer, it does not give me a sense of well being. What other crucial information can be mislaid in the same fashion?

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less

I have managed to get to other locations, but that feeling of uncertainty is never far away and it has quite spoiled what I had expected to be a great game.

The graphics are simple, but take a long time to draw. There are some reasonable puzzles but it is not always possible to be sure what you have done or what you have got.

There does not appear to be any form of inventory and if you open the cupboards in Stephen's room there is no apparent way of checking the contents again unless you close and re-open them. Then you find the same objects are there, even though you picked up one of them the first time round!!

The plot is, as you would expect, very clever, but the implementation of the game is one of the most confused and frustrating I have ever come across. Although I have only spent a few hours on it, I would still like to get further, but I think I shall start running up the walls before I reach the end.

Bill Brock

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