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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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