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"Games of the Week!"

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(c) 2000 James Burrows

  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!
Hunchback -- The Adventure
1986 Ocean
By Ian Weatherburn
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the seventeenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: July 21st, 1986).

Hail fellow members of the Guild of Wondrous Wand Wielders! In this month's magical missive the Bearded One humps it in HUNCHBACK, relieves himself in Bimbo the Boggit's toiler, and bites his lip in THE HULK. Plus a review of JEWELS OF DARKNESS from Rainbird/Level 9, your letters, your cries for help, and a dire warning to the Clever Contacts!


Ocean, 9.95 cassette

his game gives me the Hump. It looks beautiful, it plays well, it has some nicely programmed features, but it seems to be so short on puzzle-power that I find myself wondering just how much gaming you're going to get for your money.

The packaging certainly looks promising. You get two cassettes neatly slotted into one of the new-style double cassette boxes, together with an attractively designed foldout leaflet with instructions on how to play the game. One thing that slightly annoyed me is that the screenshot on the inlay looks as if it must be the one you are greeted with when you've completed the game -- pity they couldn't have saved the surprise for the end of the adventure.

The instructions are pretty brief -- the vocabulary is miniscule (only about 25 verbs and not including direction commands) and the plot is pretty simple -- rescue Esmeralda from the wicked Cardinal or remain forever single. The word EXAMINE is absent and during the game I found the gameplay rather restricted as a result of this and other omissions.

However, it sure LOOKS good. Like it's predecessor, Never Ending Story, Hunchback has an attention-grabbing backdrop across the top half of the screen, showing a suitably grandiose specimen of gothic architecture and an attractively redesigned character set scrolling below. The location descriptions are quite lengthy and to my mind a definite improvement on NES, where they were often rather too skimpy for my liking.

Hunchback is split into three separate parts (again like NES) and the first part, in the Cathedral, generates a considerable sense of atmosphere from the descriptions alone. Atmosphere, however, isn't everything. The Wiz was dismayed to find himself entering Part 2 after only a few minutes of play. There is in fact only one real puzzle in part one and it isn't exactly tough to figure out. There are other distractions -- fighting with guards, for example; but even when I was equipped with just my bare hands I found them easy prey.

Throughout the game the graphics continue to impress. The backdrop doesn't change, but each time you pick something up a small icon depicting the object is pasted onto the display. On the left of the screen at the top there is a constant procession of changing cameos, showing either a glimpse of your current location or some aspect of it -- a guard, perhaps, or a snapshot of your ugly mug.

Hunchback is a very attractive game, no doubt about it. The features -- attacking guards, helpful parser telling you which words it doesn't understand, pretty pictures and text -- all bear the hallmarks of professional programming at its best.

Unfortunately, as an adventure, it doesn't challenge the player sufficiently to warrant its price tag. Three separate loads and 100K of program may sound like a lot, but too much has gone into the presentation and too little into the game. Things get a little harder later on, but even in the second part I found little opposition, and by the time I'd reached the Cardinal's mansion I was already thinking about what to play next. For children and inexperienced adventurers this would make a beautiful present, but if you're accustomed to the likes of Level 9 and Infocom it's not going to keep you busy for long.

Atmosphere 76%
Interaction 55%
Lasting Interest 58%

Value for Money




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 (26 Nov 2004)

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