A&B Computing1st October 1985
Published in A&B Computing 2.10
Graphic adventures for the BBC Micro (unless using the underrated Mode 7 graphics) suffer from two problems: precious memory is taken away from the test for the graphics screen, and if Mode 5 is used for colour then the pictures must alternate with text to avoid the horrible 20 column print. Perhaps the BBC Plus or other shadow RAM cards will be exploited by the likes of Level 9.
Emerald Isle does suffer from the problems mentioned, though these have been offset to some extent by the master programmers at Level 9. The pictures use only the centre part of the Mode 5 screen which allows them to be drawn, by some clever programming, whilst the test is being read in Mode 7. One must, however, toggle back and forth between text and graphics screens using the TAB key, which I kept forgetting to do.
The usual elaborated text of Level 9 games has also been drastically abbreviated, effectively to give single line descriptions of locations. This has been cunningly disguised by the addition of descriptions of all adjoining locations - "exits are west to a windy plain" etc, and Level 9 have still managed to create considerable atmosphere in the game by excellent construction.
The game itself seems as huge as one would normally expect and has a large range of puzzles to solve. It's one of those games where one can wander around for a long time without getting killed but also without making too much visible progress. I am beginning to regard the search through Level 9's clue sheets as an intrinsic part of playing their games, which can be almost as baffling as the program!
In summary, a well-constructed and enjoyable adventure, but I would really have preferred to have had the usual detail in the text as I found the graphics added very little to my enjoyment of the game.