Your Uncle Buddy Burbank and your Aunt Hildegarde have passed away. As they had no children of their own and you were their favourite nephew, the estate is due to pass to you. Knowing what sort of people they were, you suspect that getting your hands on the money is not going to be straightforward. Your suspicions are confirmed when the lawyer hands you a letter from your Aunt.
Between then, your Aunt and Uncle built up one of the largest and wackiest film companies in the history of Hollywood. Specialising in B-movies with such unforgettable titles as Vampire Penguins, Meltdown on Elm Street and a whole series about an all-American mailman, their business concerns spread over into their private lives. Their beachside mansion is full of props from old movies, practical jokes set up by your uncle and the general trivia normally associated with a movie existence.
Your Aunt's letter is, in fact, a copy of the Will. As they made their fortune from nothing, you are expected to put in a bit of work before you inherit the estate. Hidden somewhere within the mansion and grounds are ten treasures and you have just one night to collect them all. Fail, and another of your cousins gets the chance. Your only clue is a poem on the back of a postcard from your Uncle that might as well have been written in Greek for all the sense it makes.
You start off outside the house and a cursory examination soon reveals that all the doors are locked. There is a statue of Buck Palace, the all-American mailman. He is armed to the teeth with bazooka, machine guns, ammunition belts, rifles and bayonets, all the paraphernalia a postman needs to fend of irate dogs. And, of course, his mailbag. A sort of cross between Postman Pat and Rambo. More sinister perhaps is the fact that the statue rotates to point his bazooka in different directions.
As you wander round the grounds, you discover the rose bud includes one sickly rose bush where you threw up as a child after smoking one of your uncle's cigars. Your Aunt was most fastidious about her garden so presumably there is some special significance attached to the bush. There is the entrance to the maze, nor the traditional adventure type maze of twisty little passages all alike, but one edged with thick hedges and a warning not to enter without a map.
A staircase leads down to the beach but it is broken and you cannot get across. There is a ladder down the cliff near a cannon that may be of use, if you can find a way of carrying it. All these problems and you are still no nearer to getting into the house.
As with all Infocom's games, there is a wealth of text at every location. Descriptions must be read carefully as you attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is no real hardship as one of Infocom's specialities is to ensure that you get sensible answers to impractical ideas whenever possible. This makes the game so much more enjoyable than a typical page of "you can't do that" responses.
The parser, once the envy of the adventure writing world is now beginning to look a little dated. Some of the commands that I tried to use, especially multiple commands just didn't work. There was also the slightly annoying feature of not being able to enquire about items that have just been described in the text. For example, examining the mailbag on the statue of Buck Palace elicited the response "you can't see a mailbag here". This is no doubt because there is another mailbag somewhere else in the game but this is not the sort of thing that Infocom usually let through.
As usual, the game's packaging is superb. As well as copies of the letter from your Aunt and postcard from your Uncle, there is a copy of the magazine Tinsel World. This is a beautiful spoof on all those 'secrets of the stars' magazines with such features as a man being savaged by a psychotic gerbil, and a three-headed boy who had just been signed up for a huge fee. Then of course there are all those wonderful adverts: send a nail clipping plus $12.00 and I will send you your lucky numbers, fat-melting chewing gum and a swizzle stick that is guaranteed to bring you instant wealth. So convinced are Infocom that this article is genuine, they have even included a free one in your packaging.
Of course, all these bits and pieces do have an ulterior motive as there are several clues hidden within the text that are essential if you want to get anywhere within the game. It is, by far, the best way of combating piracy.
Hollywood Hijinx takes an excellent swipe at the movie industry and will be loved by film buffs everywhere, plus, of course, anyone else who enjoys state of the art adventuring. Who needs pictures? [Try telling that to the chain stores! - Ed]