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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!
Time Search
1985 Duckworth
By ?
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the second issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (June 1985).
Duckworth, 7.95 cass

he name Duckworth should ring a few bells for most adventurers. They publish a comprehensive series of adventure books, including 'Exploring Adventures on the Commodore 64' and 'The Adventurer's Notebook.' Recently, however, they've been branching out into games' software and have released a number of titles, each of which uses the techniques propounded by Peter Gerrard in the Exploring Adventures series.

There are now three new titles on the market, Colossal Cave (yet another version of the old favourite, to join those by Melbourne House/Abersoft and Level 9), Time Search by John Ryan, and Castle Dracula by Ray Davies. The White Wizard had every intention of giving you the low-down on Colossal Cave this month, but his copy was stolen by a mutant troll so instead I'll tickle your fancies with details of Time Search and Castle Dracula.

Well, I'll TRY to tickle your fancies, but somehow I don't think you're going to end up shrieking with delight. Let's face it, neither of these two text-only games is exactly state-of-the-art. Time Search gives you the chance of owning your own time machine, but you have to find it first. The game starts off by warning you that if during play you need to restart a game, you will have to reload some of the program data first. It suggests that when the message 'Loading Data' flashes onto the screen you should set the tape counter on your cassette unit to zero, so that you will have no difficulty locating the correct position.

Unfortunately this means that you have to watch the screen like a hawk while the program loads, because the message 'Loading Data' flashes onto the screen for approximately 0.25 seconds. Now the White Wizard is the most patient of souls, but this sort of user unfriendliness didn't exactly endear me to the prospect of playing the game itself.

My fears were justified -- I'm afraid I found myself rather shocked by the quality of what followed. There was a time when all text-adventures were two-word input only and had pretty limited vocabularies. Only problem is, that time is long past and those of you used to games like Castle of Terror and Sherlock are going to find Duckworth's offering very primitive.

The program, for example, understands 'Get', but not 'Take' and scans only the first three letters of each word. Sometimes this can lead to some very obscure results -- 'Shine Torch' is interpreted as . . . well, perhaps I'd better not say as this is a polite publication, but suffice it to say that when I tried to 'Shine Torch' I received a very severe ticking off.

Apart from the small vocabulary and minimal location descriptions, I was also rather disappointed to see that the player's inputs scrolled the rest of the display (including the location description) off the screen. A number of games nowadays use windows for input and output to prevent this happening, and I was sorry to see that I was expected to type 'Look' every time I wanted to recall a location description (not that there was much to recall).

Some of the puzzles in Time Search are genuinely original, but then most games have at least some touch of originality so I'm not inclined to award any extra marks for this redeeming feature. There were some nice touches of humour -- I found a map in the second location, but when I tried to read it I was told 'Fill this in as you go along!' -- no shortcuts there! I do feel, however, that a game of this calibre belongs in the history books or in the 2.50 price bracket, and certainly not on the shelves today for 7.95.

Atmosphere 20%
Interaction 22%
Lasting Interest 35%

Value for Money


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

Note: Use an emulator where the 'true 1541 emulation' can be turned off (e.g. VICE, PC64, C64S), as in CCS64 you'll wait 5 minutes for the game to load.

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (6 September 2001)
There was no screenshot in the original review.

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