Database1st July 1984
Published in Apple User Volume 4 Number 7
The Coveted Mirror
They say that broken mirrors are bad luck, but if someone gives you a copy of The Coveted Mirror it's your lucky day. Penguin's latest adventure game is a real beauty!
The mirror is indeed broken, and King Voar the Vermin has four of the five pieces. You are a prisoner in Voar's castle, but security is lax so you can slip out for a while by bribing the guard. However, he only allows you a certain length of time, after which you are whisked back to face Voar's wrath.
Of course, if you return in time, you can offer another bribe. The hourglass at the side of the screen shows you how long you can stay out and how much time you've used up. The task, then, is to stay out for long enough to tackle most of the adventure. This means collecting the relevant information, solving the puzzles, and all the things you expect from an adventure game.
In the last stage of the game you go beyond Voar's long arm, so you don't have to worry about the time then. In true Penguin tradition, The Coveted Mirror contains a few bits that make it different from other games. For example, most of the frames contain some animation. While this may only be a smile flickering across a face, the overall effect is to further enhance the graphics.
Another difference is that within the adventure game are a few sections which require arcade-type skills. You've got to complete these if you're to succeed in your search, and to make matters worse they are time-driven. If you don't finish them in time, it's back to Voar for another verbal lashing.
This raises another difference in that you don't get killed in The Coveted Mirror. Voar is a cruel man, but his natural arrogance makes him over-confident.
He'll allow you 25 transgressions, but I can't tell you what happens if you exceed this number because I completed the game before I had to find out. There are also a couple of "quiz" sections which may test your knowledge and powers of recognition. Again, you'll have to complete them if you are to succeed.
One difference which I *really* appreciated was the save facility. The game is saed to the actual game disc, so there's none of the usual wrist-wrenching disc-swapping. Up to seven games can be saved and restored, which is plenty. By the time you reach the seventh, you are usually ready to over-write the first because you're well past the stage at which you first saved the game.
The game occupies both sides of the disc, but there's very little switching between sides during play. The main reason to turn the disc over is to load one of the arcade sections. Even given this, it's a fair-sized adventure.
There's quite a bit of humour too. The people you meet have wonderful names, and their responses to offers are in keeping with their character. This means that some thought has gone into the text handling over and above the usual "I don't remember", including the response to profanity! If you're a Penguin fan, you'll no doubt spot the adverts too.
As a straightforward adventure game, The Coveted Mirror is maybe a little (but not much) harder than average. However, when you add in all the extras, the result is thoroughly enjoyable.
Given Penguin's pricing policy, it's real value for money too. Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Penguin's the fairest of them all!