Finally this month the White Wizard waves his wand over another disk-only game. Seriously, tape users, how much longer can you go on before you start saving up for a disk drive? Read on, and eat your hearts out...
Most C64 owners will have heard of Infocom, and most disk drive owners will have cottoned on to the fact that although Infocom games change hands at more than £30 a time, Commodore have started releasing them at an earth-shattering £11.99. You can already get hold of the Zork Trilogy, which was the series originally responsible for forging Infocom's world-leading reputation, and recently Deadline, Starcross and Suspended have been added to the list. I will be looking at some of these next month, but this month we'll splash out on a fully-priced Infocom game - Sorceror. Can it really be worth paying over £45 for an adventure?
Whether or not you've braved the earlier Infocom titles and defeated the infamous Krill, you'll find Sorceror a tremendous challenge and full of surprises. The game comes excellently packaged with a copy of the Enchanter's Gazette and an Infotater.
The gazette is really only there to add a bit of variety to the package, but the Infotater is essential to playing the game since it contains various code patterns that you will need to refer to during the game.
The plot is simple. Belboz, master enchanter, has disappeared. There is every indication that something is seriously wrong and as a young enchanter of reknown you must sally forth, locate the errant wizard, and set the world to rights.
Like all Infocom games, Sorceror is text-only, but don't let that put you off. The vocabulary is enormous and the program can understand extremely complex inputs. Even if it can't give you a direct response, it will often suggest a way of finding out what you want to know, although there are limits to what you can find out by asking questions directly (as indeed there should be). For example, entering Where is Belboz? will get the reply: You last saw Belboz a few days ago. You can't begin to guess where he is now.
The game features numerous spells, including the notorious Meef spell (causes plants to wilt), not to mention the Gaspar Spell, the Izyuk Spell, and many others, all of which can be experimented with, often with hilarious effects. Even if you use a spell in circumstances which are not appropriate you will often be treated to some highly original sequences for example, trying to dry up a moat (thereby stranding the horrible creatures that inhabit it) doesn't help much, but does reveal details of the moat's automatic refilling system!
Sorceror is not one of Infocom's best known titles, and at £45.30 a throw it's certainly not cheap. However, if you have an unexpected windfall you can be sure of a tremendous game, with lengthy location descriptions, great atmosphere and highly addictive qualities.
You'll meet a number of quirky characters, face some extremely tricky (but entirely logical) puzzles, wander through locations that are so well described they could almost be real, and have tremendous fun, whether you decide to look for Belboz, or simply want to wander around exploring.
Nevertheless, the White Wizard has to say that £45 seems a very high price to pay. The sad truth is that, although many disk-based games offer a great deal, they do more than extract their pound of flesh for the privilege.