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(c) 2000 James Burrows

  Preview and
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!

The Big Sleaze
1987 Piranha/Macmillan Ltd.
By Fergus McNeill

Most text of the present article comes from the preview published in the twenty sixth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: May 14th, 1987) and the review published in the twenty seventh issue (street date: June 11th, 1987).

Do you have a version with the loading screen?


Piranha, 9.95 cassette only


et another incomplete game lands on the Wiz's doorstep, this time from those Piranha people who seem to have struck up a very close friendship with Fergus 'The Boggit' McNeill.

By now just about everybody who plays adventures must have heard of Fergus McNeill, founding father (I believe) of Delta 4 software, who made their name with a whole string of Quillustrated, irreverent spoofs. From Bored Of The Rings onwards, Delta 4 seem to have taken a tilt at most available targets, with varying success.

Despite the enjoyment the Wiz got out of some of their earlier games, I think they may be on to a rather tougher assignment with The Big Sleaze than hitherto. First, any take-off of Mickey Spillane/Damon Runyon-type gangsterism has to compete with other games on the same theme (Bugsy and Borrowed Time to name just two). Second, unlike some of Delta 4's earlier targets, in the case of American crime fiction the originals are just so damn good!

Perhaps it was because of my respect for pulpy American fiction that I didn't find the humour in The Big Sleaze nearly as refreshing as other Delta 4 releases -- on the other hand I did find the detail of the game very thought out and vividly written. As Sam Spillade, private eye, you must wade your way through a number of cases that come and go throughout a three-part loader (typical Delta 4 format) ingeniously put together with the Quillustrator ensemble.

The graphics are great and the vocabulary has been very well thought out -- in fact I'd go so far as to say that what's there is the best of Delta 4's programming efforts to date. It's just that after Bugsy and Borrowed Time, the Wiz is getting a bit tired of being a private eye.

Piranha, 9.95 cass


he Wiz gave this a brief preview last month. Now the finished version has popped onto his desk and has revealed its secrets.

As with previous Fergus McNeil games (The Boggit, Bored of the Rings and so on) this is a three-part/load Quillustrated game with a sharp sense of parody. As Private Eye Spillade your job is to solve a number of crimes or mysteries, banking your clients cheques as you attempt to avoid both bankruptcy and the numerous threats of death and destruction that you encounter.

The graphics are excellent (although there aren't an enormous number of them), and combined with the copious and well-written text they give the game a very attractive feel.

There are a couple of things about this game that left the Wiz slightly less impresses than he might have been. Mr McNeil writes some pretty good prose when he relies on taking the mickey out of the American detective story. However, when he drops in one of his many risque jokes (about private 'dicks', or shoving dynamite up a pig's backside) things seem to start going downhill a bit.

Now, don't think I'm being prudish (perhaps I am), because we're not talking about anything particularly rude. It's just that it seems so easy to make people laugh by mentioning private dicks, or whatever. Okay, 'so what's wrong with that', I hear you cry -- if people laugh, then it must be funny. Perhaps it is -- but only for the first time you read it, whereas the pleasure the player gets from a well written, witty take-off of Mickey Spillane tough-guy prose is more enduring. Luckily there's a lot of the latter, but I do wish there was less of the former.

The other thing that annoyed me was the way the vocabulary had been set up. I suspect that there was a memory problem or something, because many of the essential actions in the game do not have enough synonyms. For example, when you find your car in the street, you might quite naturally enter ENTER CAR. Unfortunately, 'You can't'. That's a little misleading, since of course you can -- but only by typing GET INTO CAR.

Similarly, when you blow up the pig with the dynamite, you might type LIGHT DYNAMITE, but again you can't -- you must LIGHT FUSE. The latter case seems even more unfair, because a close examination of the dynamite doesn't reveal a fuse to light.

All this is really as much of a reflection on the system that Fergus McNeill uses to write his games. They're good games and give a reasonable return for your investment, but perhaps it's time Fergus chose another system.

Atmosphere 75%
Interaction 60%
Lasting Interest 68%





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 (25 Jun 2005)

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