Let's first of all take these lads to task for a bit of crude humour. Okay, so they've given themselves a clever name and they think that gives them the right to take the mickey out of Third World countries. We're told the price of Frightened Fantasy in Australia is two cans of Fosters, and in Zambia it's two 'gumbo beads'.
Now come on, lads, this is 1987, Channel Four, left-handed opossums' civil rights and all that. All right, settle down - it's just that reading the info with this game, and playing it a while, has given me a fit of giggles. You see, these guys have a certain humorous way about them and I think if enough people find them amusing, who knows, we might find these chaps vying with that famous funny, Fergus McNeil.
This effort is brought to you courtesy of the Graphic Adventure Creator, and that utility's drawbacks may account for its lack of tempo. However, the conspicuous lack of grammatical accuracy must be put directly at Dented's door, so come on, lads, pawn the old Beano annuals and get yourselves a weighty dictionary to sort the text out before packing the products off to the eager chuckletums waiting for this one.
But the other drawbacks aren't that serious-the biggest problem is the program's insistence on stopping dead instead of scrolling on. This means the first key depression of any input following a long location description is taken as a sign to scroll, much as in The Hobbit.
The large picture leaves little room for the location description below, which leads to information scrolling off quickly; regular readers will recognise this as a GAC characteristic.
But leaving aside any shortcomings of GAC, Frightened Fantasy shows the utility used to good effect with good pictures, a pleasant redesigned, readable character set, and colour changes between location descriptions.
Playing the game is easy, allowing the player to meet the full force of fun on offer in a short time. The humour often works on a discordant juxtaposition of the fantasy and the real in a very funny way.
Hence we have a happy hour in the Nobody's Inn where the beer is free (though drinking it is a bit of a trap), a weapon found lying around turns out to be a 'Soviet SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle. Gas operation, range 900m, Vel 830 m/s and totally useless without its trigger', and elsewhere 'Ores, Elves and the odd Japanese Goblin tourist rush to and fro'.
In a similar vein, there's a talisman to teleport you home to Milton Keynes.
But there is some method to the madness, and beneath it all are some real tasks. Quests are given out by just about everyone you meet: Groaner of the Inn wants you to brave the swamp and bring back Basil, the Seven Dwarves want to feel happy but Happy has lost his chainsaw, and Kevin in the Inn is obviously quite happy himself when he comes out with 'Hic, I'm Ferg... er ... Kevin and I need a weapon to kill the wimp Davis in Orcbusters', Orcbusters being a future release planned by Dented.
Humour oozes from this game, with random messages popping up like this: 'A boy with brown National Health glasses and a jetpac zooms past you and disappears', and location descriptions like this one: 'You are in the messy dining room. By the look of the place some ores have eaten here, as the furniture is reduced to bits and there are some hobbit remains.'
The credibility of the plot obviously isn't so important in a funny game, and though the talisman found just lying in the forest shortly after the off isn't stunningly imaginative, the gold scattered round the cashpoint of the bank is typically humorous.
Frightened Fantasy is supposedly a spoof of the Fighting Fantasy games, though I'm not sure which game it's based on. But this adventure IS very amusing and a much better effort than Dented Designs's Don't Panic - Panic Now, reviewed last month, even if here you are likely to end up with a score which reads like this: 'You scraped up 0 copies of Orcbusters and you have taken 43 puny attempts at this awesome quest.'
Frightened Fantasy is available on mail order from 134 Coleraine Road, Portstewart, Co Londonderry, Northern Ireland.