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  Review by
Steve Cooke
(The White Wizard)

 

 
Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Questprobe 3 - Fantastic Four
1985 Adventure International
By Scott Adams
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the fifteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: June 12th, 1986).
 
 

QUESTPROBE III --
THE FANTASTIC FOUR

US Gold, 9.95 cassette, 14.95 disk
 

his is the latest in the long line of Scott Adams games, and the third in the Questprobe series featuring the Marvel heroes. Number three introduces the Thing and the Human Torch, either of whom you can 'become' during the game.


The White Wizard has had occasion to be rather less than complimentary about certain aspects of Scott Adams' games in the past. In this particular instance he ended up feeling positively bloody-minded since US Gold didn't supply him with a hint sheet. This is a favourable pastime with adventure software houses, who arrogantly assume that you're prepared to spend days on end reviewing their games and cracking their frequently illogical puzzles in return for a reviewer's pittance. I certainly don't rely on hint sheets to review games, but sometimes (and especially with Scott Adams titles) they're essential to get far enough into a game to really get the feel of it in the time available.

Scott Adams has a habit of putting you in at the deep-end in his games. They aren't really 'exploration' games at all, which is just as well because most of them don't have that many locations. Instead, they're what the Wiz thinks of as 'puzzle' games -- in other words, their chief attraction is the number of particularly tricky problems that you have to solve, sometimes by inspired lateral thinking and sometimes, it must be said, by sheer luck.

The Wiz received the disc version of Questprobe III which offers some excellent graphics and a vocabulary slightly larger than previous Questprobe titles. However, that is where the love affair ends. The game is in fact grossly dated by today's adventure standards, and doesn't rise much higher than a Quill release in terms of programming.

First, the speed of the thing. If you select the graphics option you have to wait for the disc to dump a new picture on the screen every time you change location. This takes a long time. Even if you don't select graphics, you find that the program takes an absurd amount of time to process your inputs.

And it's not as if it does much with them either. Examining items that aren't present results in the message 'You see nothing special', which gives rise to confusion where you're not sure what an object depicted on screen is. For example, there's a chimney stack that looks promising, but the program apparently doesn't understand 'chimney' -- however, it does understand 'shaft'. Entering 'Examine shaft' gets you the aforementioned response, and simply leads one to wonder whether one has actually examined something or not.

There is no RAM SAVE or RESTORE option, so saving a game involves the usual absurd palaver of swapping discs, formatting special SAVE discs and so on. This is particularly annoying in Questprobe III since there's a puzzle at the beginning of the game that results in your rapid death unless you solve it ASAP. That means frequent RESTOREing each time you die until you get it right -- all very time consuming.

The whole user interface on the program is also pretty below average. Text is entered at the bottom of the screen in a small window. Once you've pressed RETURN, the screen flashes white and your input disappears. There's then a pause while the program processes your input, followed by a response. There's then another pause and the window flashes yellow. At that point you can hit RETURN again and the window clears to white and awaits another input. If you can think of a more time-consuming and absurd system then let me know -- I can't.

As with all Scott's games, the location descriptions are extremely brief, though in this case the graphics are of such a high quality that the atmosphere of the game isn't seriously affected by this. Nevertheless, this is definitely not a game for text-only fanatics.

Nor is it a game for those who like lots of places to explore without having to crack endless, tricky puzzles, or for those who like a game that can move along at a cracking pace, or for those who want a game with a helpful parser. I leave you, members of the Magic Circle, to draw your own conclusions.

 
Atmosphere 75%
Interaction 59%
Lasting Interest 75%

Value for Money

58%

Overall

62%
 


The single-load tape version is also worthy of your attention!

If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (8 Sep 2004)

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