Full marks to Magus, authors of the interesting Village Of Lost Souls for the Beeb. They have sent in their two new offerings, What's Eeyore's and Locks Of Luck, on one special reviewer's disc accompanied by full clue sheets. These games are completely different in style from Village and form part of their new "Nursery Crhyme" series, intended "as light relief for seasoned adventurers".
If you enjoyed Level 9's Return To Eden, where an object could transform itself with the aid of an excruciating pun into something entirely different, you'll love What's Eeyore's. Magus has turned Mother Goose inside out in search of double meanings, and spread their net further afield to drag in, among other things, Fawlty Towers and higher mathematics. For instance, a fast food stand turns out to be "Ma Hubbard's free food, binomials here". And of course you discover a crusty meat pie with, guess what, 22/7 cut into it.
If that's your kind of humour, then this adventure will probably give you a lot of fun, but unless you have the tortuous mind of the Magus you'll certainly need the hint sheet. There's a SAVE facility, which we failed to discover for a while because you need to type *SAVE, but it's not as vital as in most adventures because you never get killed. If you're wondering about the title - the object of the game is to find Eeyore's lost tail and fix it back on. And the answer to "What's Eeyore's?" Yes, you guessed it, it's "Thanks, I'll have a pint!"
Having praised Magus for sending clue sheets, we must now admit that even with the totally unbridled and unscrupulous use of the one provided for Locks Of Luck, we were unable to get halfway through this game! The problem was either that there were no clues for some sticking point or else that there were clues but with pretty unhelpful answers.
The game itself has the rather silly theme of requiring the player to identify and retrieve a king's missing lock of hair. It has a rather more orthodox and grown-up feel to it than What's Eeyore's, however, and seems rather bigger - judging from the number of clues to things we never reached! However, it has a number of features in common with the other game, including awful puns, treasure collection and needing means of transport for moving through parts of the game. Like Village Of The Lost Souls, a source of difficulty is the very large number of objects that can be found and carried around and whose function is generally far from obvious.
The new Magus games are unfortunately marred by having a number of quite arbitrary puzzles which we were only able to solve by use of the hint sheets and to which there seemed to be no basis on which we could have reasoned out the answers. This brings us to a theme discussed in earlier articles - the dubious practice of making a game last by the use of obscure puzzles. Personally, we get very frustrated by games that we cannot make progress with. An ideal game allows frequent problem-solving and lasts a long time! Of course, the normal memory constraints of the Beeb make this ideal tricky to achieve. The best solution that we have seen so far is that offered by Robico's Enthar Seven which combines Robico's usual fair and logical puzzles with the huge dimensions permitted by a combination of disc access and text compression.