versions available for other machines, Commodore actually
manufacture Infocom games under licence in the UK, and
this enables them to keep the price down. You pay considerably
less than you would otherwise, you get less fancy packaging
for your disk, and the map necessary for play is printed
in black and white as opposed to colour. Not a bad compromise
for economy's sake, and something to set an old wizard's
wallet at rest! The packaging of Infocom games is normally
very important, as certain miscellaneous items that
come with the game contain information necessary for
successful play. This is an interesting and viable way
of protecting a game, as a back-up copy can still he
made to protect your investment from the dreaded cold
starts from which the 1541 sometimes suffers. Anyway,
back to game itself.
you have been given a description of a particular 'unknown
mass' and you have cross-referenced it with the map,
you are on your way.
game seems to have been inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's
Rendezvous with Rama, a novel which describes
the discovery of a derelict alien vessel by inquisitive
human explorers. The vessel was cylindrical in form
and rotated about its axis to provide an internal gravity
via centripetal force. Of course a company of Infocom's
integrity don't copy other peoples material, and the
only idea of Clarke's they do actually use is that of
the design and nature of the ship itself (and even then
a few small details are changed). The rest of the game
is pure, first rate adventuring.
vessel is vast, as are the problems set before you,
but then this is supposed to be the hardest of all Infocom
adventures! The ship is in a terrible state and what's
left of the crew has degenerated into barbarism on the
apparently centuries-long voyage. Initially there is
a time limit set by the fact that the vessel's atmosphere
is running out. Once that has been solved there are
many more difficult puzzles awaiting your attention.
Some of these require interaction with various aliens
(native and otherwise) and ardent fans of the Zork
trilogy may well meet up with old adversaries.
degree of imagination necessary to solve the game's
almost incomprehensible tasks does justice to Infocom's
hard-earned reputation as the ultimate adventure game
designers. However, there is one factor about the game
which seems a little unfair. One of the major repairs
cannot be successfully done without either repeated
trial and error or an active interest in chemistry.
(A clue: the dot-pictures in the repair bay represent
atomic structures). The overall impression is of pure
science fiction with some humour as light relief, but
to have included a problem which required specific academic
knowledge was just going a bit too far. One other very
minor complaint is that with this being one of the company's
earlier games, it does not understand some of the abbreviations
used in later versions of Infologic. This will only
cause bother if you are used to Infocom, anyway, and
interaction with the computer is still a million miles
above anybody else's games.
ending is really excellent however. After repairing
the ship and finding out how to reach this ship's equivalent
of a pilot's console, you have to set a course back
to Earth. Fine if you know what you're doing, but you
only get one chance . . .
are times when you think you are incredibly close to
finishing the game but don't be lured into a false sense
of security. Some of the most deceptive adventure techniques
outside The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
are used to good effect in this game. One piece of advice:
save the game frequently. You will be surprised at how
far you are allowed to get even though you may (and
most probably will) be on me wrong track. This really
is the best example of a superlative science fiction
game for the C64.