Stainless Steel Rat
By Mosaic
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Computer & Video Games #39

Stainless Steel Rat

Before you attempt to play Stainless Steel Rat (Saves The World), you should read the book. I say that without hesitation for, although being fairly well-read in science fiction, I had not sampled the works of Harry Harrison. My first attempt at the game drew a zero all round, so much so that I felt there had to be more here or otherwise why the game?

So I read the book which I thoroughly enjoyed - it is amongst the most readable of science fiction and I found I could not put it down until finished. I then sat down to have another crack at the game, being now familiar with the world of Jim di Griz.

This time I was much more in sympathy with the game - but I'm afraid I still ended up none the wiser, despite continual perseverence.

The opening sequences nicely simulate the frantic opening of the story - you must act quickly or all is lost! In fact, I would say that almost certainly you will have to restart after a very short while when you first start to play.

The problems then begin to appear. Your pace is held back by the method of text display of the location descriptions. This unfolds letter by letter at a pre-ordained reading speed, followed by timed messages (if any) before the prompt appears. The time delay for any command that doesn't change the location is a yawn. In particular, I for inventory causes a timed item-by-item list to be displayed, when just a quick glance at a list is all that is needed.

In Stainless Steel Rat which can go wrong for the Adventurer many a time, this is a tedious business indeed. It's not the graphics that slow down the action - they are good and instantaneous.

The other problem is that, although now familiar with the book and with my objective in mind, I can go plenty of places but not where I want! I discovered early on that it's no good trying to make a two-dimensional map - another method is needed to map time. My inability to move around at will all boiled down to inadequate knowledge of time-helix operation. I can't operate one, at least, not very efficiently.

Keith Campbell

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