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(c) 2000 James Burrows

   
 
   
  Review by
Phil King
(Norman Nutz)

 

 
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!

James Clavell's Shogun
1988 Infocom
By Dave Lebling, Tim Anderson, Duncan Blanchard,
J.D. Arnold, Scott Fray & Stu Galley

 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the fifty first issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: June 15th, 1989).
 

Form 2-19
Rorschach
Scientific Stationary

THE LAB REPORT

RESEARCH PROJECT: Binary code addiction as a means of controlling the world.
HEAD SCIENTIST: Prof NORMAN NUTZ Phd, Bsc, KP.
RESEARCH EQUIPMENT: C64, Amiga A500, Cray-2.
LAB ASSISTANT: The Geek

THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NORMAN NUTZ
(AGE 113 3/4)

Ach, who would've thought it'd be so easy to dispose of that idiot goat-gobbler? I'd been planning the muscle-bound oaf's demise for months until I, inevitably, came up with the perfect weapon: 30 sticks of gelignite strapped to a fat billy-goat with a 20 gigabyte surveillance system to blow it up when Chuck came within 15.549 metres (the radius of the maximum lethality circle). Designing a system intelligent enough to recognize Chuck Vomit rather than any other troll, was a challenge that would have defeated the world's greatest minds, all exept me -- PROFESSOR NORMAN NUTZ, the Einstein of the 21st century. Sadly, my assistant The GEEK (the result of a failed experiment to create the perfect games reviewer) forgot to put the battery in. Nevertheless, failure turned to success when the half-blind Troll ate the bomb! Heh, heh!

Now I'm here (in the dingy basement of ZZAP! Towers), I'll reveal exclusively to ZZAP! readers the results of my most recent tests. During the experimentation process I've taken a bath in front of old ladies in Japan, gone digging for gold in California and learnt to control a giant mechanical monster.
.

 

 

SHOGUN
Infocom, Amiga 29.99

 

h so, as 'Kendo' Fish would say. Remember old Richard Chamberlain (housewives faint all over the country) in the epic TV drama where he sailed a ship to Japan and got involved with the war between two leaders lo rule the country? Well, this game is based on the same book (by James Clavell) as the TV series.

As John Blackthorne (Richard Chamberlain), you are the Pilot-Major of a Dutch trading ship, the Erasmus. In the year 1600 the Pacific Ocean is dominated by Spain and Portugal. Their knowledge of the Asian seaways is top secret information, but you have a stolen Portuguese rutter which has helped make you the first Englishman to successfully sail through the Straits of Magellan into the Pacific. But the journey has cost many lives already. The surviving crew are starving and Captain Spillbergen is dying. Worse still, after sailing for weeks without sight of land, the ship is caught in a terrible storm. The first task is to steer the Erasmus safely through dangerous reefs and tidal waves to try and reach Japan.

The ship is rocked by a violent storm

But if you thought life on the ocean waves was hazardous, as a European in Japan your life is permanently hanging by the thinnest of threads. You see, these Japs are strange folk with an odd sense of honour. Like if a chap loses a game of ping-pong he's likely to impale himself! And their only punishment is death, usually by an extremely painful method like being boiled alive. They have weird customs as well -- a samurai told me off for having barbaric manners and then urinated over me! Then he ordered me to take a bath -- in public!

Still, if you win their respect (bowing to every samurai is a good idea), they let you wear a silk kimono. But even then, without warning, you can he chucked into the slammer for an indefinite period without any clothes. Somehow, you must try simply to survive as you become involved in the tussle of two great lords (Ishido and Toranaga) to rule Japan -- the emperor has died, leaving a seven-year-old heir. Your one asset is your ship -- much better than the Spanish and Portuguese ones -- which could enable one of the lords to vanquish the other. But your main enemies are the Catholic priests -- don't forget, this is the time of the Spanish Inquisition and worst luck you're a Protestant!

The crew are starving, but worse still they smell!

Occasional but beautifully-drawn pictures add to the engrossing atmosphere created by the detailed text -- much of it (including some strong language) taken straight from James Clavell's great novel. The story is a wonderful yarn about the clash of two totally different cultures. And the interaction between the English hero and his strange new world suits the adventure genre well. If Japanese objects and customs seem totally alien to the adventure player, this is exactly how they would seem to John Blackthorne.

The parser is very flexible, comprehending many variations of syntax. However, understanding samurai honour is impossible and progress is made mostly through trial and error. If you do get stuck, the game has a useful (but far too tempting) inbuilt hints facility. As this is 'interactive fiction', the problems are essentially linear. Various sections must be completed in order, just like the chapters of the book. Shogun is more of an adapted novel than a true adventure. But if atmosphere is what you really want, this is your game.

 
Atmosphere 93%
Puzzle Factor 65%
Interaction 70%
Lastability 76%

Overall

74%
 


If you want 8-bit walkthroughs, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Shogun Complete Artwork Gallery!

Total Pictures Count: [28]

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (13 Oct 2007)

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