By Robico
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in Beebug #77

Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, a young hero smuggles himself aborad a cargo freighter heading for adventure and the stars. What a pity he picked the pantry to hide in. By tea-time he was wrapped in chains and waiting for summary execution - that's where you come in!

Escaping from your chains is an easy affair, even crashing the ship onto a nearby planet will present few problems. But how do you now propose to solve the challenge that you've crashed slam-bang into the middle of an ancient, gladiatorial slave fortress? The planet is governed by Baron Knutah (Nutter - geddit?) and the fortress is amid Lotsatrees Forest. Your only avenue of escape appears to be via promotion out of the slave quarters, and into the soldiery of the Baron.

Using fair means and foul (and some pretty hilarious), you can soon be moving freely around the landscape, picking up a seemingly endless supply of bits and pieces. After all my years of adventuring, I still laugh when I visualise my computerised alter-ego climbing the side of a wall; supposedly wearing a gas-mask and carrying 'umpteen' items (including a mattress, axe and a portrait) which I forgot I was still carrying.

Old style adventures tended to be unpopulated places - as handling conversations between the player and computerised characters was too tricky. Gradually, immobile personalities were added to bring extra realism. Current games now tend to include animated characters who must be followed and then bribed, cajoled or thumped into assaulting you. Stranded includes a number of these obstinate personalities. These are the two soldiers Cowmuck and Dunkov, Yarvik the Border Guard, and Vardan the Centurion, all of whose 'hash' you must settle before freedom is gained. Unlike the humble Beeb, the Archimedes version of the game includes graphics screens, but as with all adventures, the game must inevitably live or die by the standard of the writing. Happily this one lives up to the task admirably, with witticisms that are both neat and to the point.


With approximately 140 items of interest, plus 150 meaningful locations (as opposed to the hundreds of dummy locations found in some games), this space romp is a lot of fun and 'cheeky-with-it'. I particularly liked such items as the Acme Box Of Anger which is useful when you want to let off steam.

The problems don't appear to be mind-boggling 0 at least not up to the score of 200/800 where I'm currently thrashing around. So it is Lord Fun, rather than the Dark Lord, who co-rules this crazy planet with Baron Knuttah. The game appears to enjoy watching your attempts to struggle with a problem and pokes fun at your efforts. Successive replies such "No, that's not it", followed by "Neither is that!" lift the level of enjoyment.

Robico Software has a good track-record with BBC adventures, and it's nice to see that it continues to produce worthwhile games. Stranded was written by Tony Heap instead of the eponymous Rob O'Leary, who now manages Robico. I don't believe I've played any other games by Tony, but if this game succeeds as well as it deserves to, then I'm sure we'll be crossing photo-emitters again.


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