Double Package
By Alligata
BBC Model B

Published in Computer & Video Games #39

Double Package

There is one thing that you can be sure of when you pick up an adventure for the BBC Micro - it hasn't been written using The Quill. Whilst that does not necessarily guarantee its quality, it does mean that a great deal more thought has had to be put into it and the authors felt the extra effort worthwhile. Here is a double package, with two games, one on each side of the cassette.

Ebony Tower is a fairly standard text adventure and, whilst it has some annoying qualities, it has a reasonable plot and is quite playable. The text comes in various colours and the response is fast.

Your mission is to kill a dragon but, before achieving that, quite a number of other problems must be solved in order to find out how.

The setting, initially, is a beach and exploration will lead you to swamp, forest and mountains - hopefully to enlist the help of pixies and avoid the orcs. Is there a use for a ripe banana? How do you get the keys from the snake? These are probably the first two problems to focus your mind on.

The annoying features about the game are a rather ignorant "Eh?" when you try to examine something, and a few sudden death actions. The sudden death would not be so bad if it wasn't necessary to reload the data section from tape to restart. However, this is only a short load, taking about half a minute including rewinding the tape.

Xanadu Cottage is written in a completely different style from its tape-mate. Again, it is text-only, but this time rather more neatly formatted and in white only. The response is so fast that it seems to appear before RETURN is fully depressed!

This is a treasure-gathering adventure which always appeals to me, perhaps because one can usually watch the score mounting up as the treasures are being stashed away! The locations are imaginatively described and in places somewhat reminiscent of Zork, although never so verbose.

Moving away from the opening scene, a path down a canyon leads to a fountain, the source of a river and further on the entrance to the caves, where the gatekeeper demands a toll to pass. He will somewhat casually leave behind a lamp for you if you pay your dues - though what good that does is questionable!

Yet another game without the word EXAMINE, but this time the computer will politely but rather firmly announce that "I don't accept the word EXAMINE". By my reckoning, the BBC Micro must have a higher percentage of adventure games with no EXAMINE command than any other!

Overall, the Ebony Tower/Xanadu Cottage cassette offers a couple of entertaining and none-too-easy adventures and represents a good buy.

Keith Campbell

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