The Great Peepingham Train Robbery
Flukeit's the name, and detecting crime is my game, with a little help from my clumsy assistant Blunders. I'm not one of your amateur sleuths though: I get paid for my extensive deductive powers. I've already earned enough from previous cases to afford a nice little office in Scunsdale where I can take a leisurely nap, dreaming of even bigger cases... until the phone wakes me. Inspector Hoaden is on the line to inform me about a train robbery at nearby Peepingham yesterday.
After searching out some vital info on Peepingham at my local library, I return home to find Hoaden's limousine parked outside my front door. He gives me the low-down on the robbery. Apparently the train's cargo included a top secret device, being delivered to a Professor Mundle - the fellow paying my extortionate investigation expenses. He wants me to find the thief and recover the device. Piece of cake, I think to myself as I climb into the limo.
Hoaden drives me to the hospital to collect Blunders, who has had another of his little accidents. He's currently recovering in the Oops-a-daisy ward, taking foul-tasting medicine. He pleads with me to help him escape, but the doctor and matron don't seem to like releasing their patients. A little cunning is needed to get Blunders out. But being a super sleuth, I find a way, and we're soon on our way to the sleepy village of Peepingham.
In the village square Blunders and I part company with Header. We soon find a pub by following our noses: The Dirty Duck it's called, where the local scrumpy cider is sold. I try some, although Blunders refrains - being so clumsy he falls over enough without getting legless. Downing a pint in one go, I soon wish I hadn't - I continue to burp for the next half an hour. Between burps I book a room for the night (with twin beds of course - we're not married).
The room's okay, but it's too early to go to bed so we set off to explore the village. All the usual shops are here, while further afield are the railway station where the crime occurred and a lake with a monk-inhabited island in the middle. The folks round here seem quite friendly- perhaps they'll tell me something about the robbery. Ambling down the high street, Blunders bumps into my old rival, Sam Shovel. He's on the same case and reckons he'll have it sussed by midnight on Sunday. Somehow Blunders and I must beat him to it.
The Peepingham adventure is presented via two windows, the top and largest shows graphics plus all the text, apart from input which appears in a small window below. The simple but colourful graphics only appear on 128K machines, and brighten up the general presentation, although they must scroll up to reveal the rest of location descriptions.
Although the game has quite a limited vocabulary, communication with other characters is possible via SAY, ASK, TELL. Realistically other people won't always do what you tell them, but apparently all characters can perform any actions Flukeit can do himself. This is due to the use of the author's own 'Worldscape' system (no utilities have been used), allowing non-player characters to lead independent lives. Unfortunately, the response to input is slow, although not too irritating when you become accustomed to it. However, the ability to repeat or edit the previous command is useful.
Problems are complicated, and some have very obscure solutions. Add to this the fact that the game is played in real time and you have one very challenging adventure. The inclusion of a RAMSAVE command helps, but sadly this feature is not included in the 48K version. Still, there are plenty of quaint locations to visit and people to meet in a very entertaining, humorous adventure -great value at only three quid.
Author Colin Jordan also wrote Inspector Flukeit (70%, Issue 43), featuring Flukeit and Blunders. The Great Peepingham Train Robbery was originally to be released by Top Ten software, but sadly they do not now publish adventures. The good news is that it can be bought direct from the author at Axxent Software, `Shirwedean', Sandyhill Road, Saundersfoot, Dyfed SA69 9HN.