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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.