Brides and the Quill have together produced some
rather original titles during their association. The
Secret of St Brides was quite novel as you wrestled
with time-distortion and mesmerism in St Brides School.
The Snow Queen was a wonderfully romantic idea
that, in my view, should never have been released as
a commercial proposition, but was still rather 'nice'
in a quaint way.
Very Big Cave Adventure, however, showed a developing
sense of what was commercially, rather than artistically,
desirable and finally Bugsy makes an even better
bid for mass sales, featuring guns, gangsters, and a
lot of good ol' murder and mayhem.
its Phillip Marlow/US Gangster images, the result might
have been something like that excellent game Borrowed
Time from Activision, were it not for the fact that
(a) the hero is a rabbit and (b) the shortcomings of
the Quill system. The first point injects a reasonable
amount of humour into the project, the second robs it
of any chance to shine technically or to compete with
more state-of-the-art adventures that have powerful
parsers and gi-normous vocabularies.
fact is that St Brides now have the design ideas to
produce some really good games, but the Quill isn't
able to provide a powerful enough framework for those
ideas. The standardised display, poor parser, small
space for vocabulary and lack of true interactive character
handling, all limit a good game.
was a time when I praised the Quill for bringing
out the adventurer in us all. It was indeed an excellent
tool for bringing adventuring to the masses, and it
will remain an excellent tool for home use. But commercially,
I feel, the tide has turned and from now on I reckon
that this traditional adventure style is stifling us
writers, not supporting us.
I only got a demo of Bugsy I can't really give
you a full review. The descriptions are amusing, the
plot twists that I saw original, and the game idea well-worn
but still quite exciting. But after playing games like
Borrowed Time and Leather Goddesses, I
felt that I had been thrown back two years. The pictures
are pretty but they don't draw instantly, the screen
format is sufficient but not excitingly different, the
parser is highly competent but not stunning. The game,
in other words, although brand new, is looking as old
as the system that was used to write it.
Brides should either get themselves a professional programming
team to devise a system that can so justice to their
originality, or be resigned to dwindling sales and popularity
in the face of newer, more powerful programs. Meanwhile
if Bugsy goes far, it will be on the strength
of CRL's marketing and not much else.
Enough of this! The game is packaged in a medium format
cassette case and is reasonably presented. It's Quilled
with graphics taking up the top third of the screen.
However, game appeal is heightened somewhat by a modification
of the system that allows conversations to be carried
out between yourself and various other characters. 'Speak
to . . . ' gives you access to a menu of vocal options,
each obtainable by a single keypress. The options vary
from sweet talking lines to outright threats. The ensuing
conversations is displayed in the area below.
process is limited of course, with no depth to the exchanges
but at least you can do more than say 'Hello'. But the
conversations do release the player from the all too
familiar restrictions of the utility from time to time.
Unfortunately, this feature -- coupled with the 'death'
routine -- strives to make an otherwise average game
something more. The game itself is always on the verge
of becoming really good, but never quite makes it. And
for the first time in quite a while, I think the faults
can largely be blamed on The Quill itself.
game begins in a small network of streets in downtown
Chicago. Each street has at least one accessible location,
the puzzle is to visit the right locations at the right
time. That way money, hoods and other useful tools can
be acquired in order to progress your career. Status
is as important as anything else in a life of crime,
so putting wealth and power to decadent use is also
a vital part of the game. Being a rabbit does have its
disadvantages though; not least of which is prejudice.
atmospheric feature that serves the game well is the
narrative. The whole of the adventure is described from
Bugsy's point of view and in his accent. The result
is a conversational and often funny style that clearly
spells out the off-beat nature of the game. Otherwise
the plot is very linear and appears to offer little
to those who might want to stray from the main plotline
for a while.
game is multi-load format so there's likely to be an
expanse I haven't yet seen. There don't appear to be
any bugs worth mentioning either. Despite that, the
game lacks something. Excitement. Funny, yes. Compelling?
Not really. After a while, the laughter fades to a smile
and then the smile fades . . . The price it a bit steep
as well. Eight pounds is definitely the most you could
ask for the game. I think it would fare far better as
a budget game. A shame, but then you can't win all the