The Mask Of The Sun is a disc-based adventure from Broderbund Software, in which you take the role of Mac Steele, a seasoned archaeologist and treasure hunter. On hearing of the theft of your latest discovery by your not-so-esteemed colleague, Francisco Roboff, you go about seeking it out. During a small fracas, you acquire an amulet found by Roboff on one of his earlier digs. I know - two wrongs and all that - but it does make you feel much better!
After a bit of leg-work back at the University, you discover that the amulet may hold the secret of the whereabouts of that most sought-after of legendary artifacts, The Mask Of The Sun.
Then disaster strikes - poetic justice perhaps! While you are trying to unlock the secrets of the amulet, it releases a strange gas. A few days later you wake up to find yourself in a hospital bed. The doctors tell you that your body is undergoing a rapid degeneration. They have no real cure, but have managed to halt temporarily the degeneration process. Listening to the doctors, you realise that you have but one chance for a cure - to find the Mask which is believed to hold the secret of the cure.
Losing no time, you wire your friend, Professor de Perez at the University of Mexico, who tells you of several Aztec ruins that may be possible resting places for the Mask. With little else to go on, you board a plane for Mexico, hoping that he is right, and that time is on your side.
The strong plot is not the end of the story, for the graphics and animation used in this Adventure are something else! The travel sequences are good examples of this. Should you climb into a motor vehicle to drive to a new location, instead of just displaying a picture of your destination on arrival, you are treated to five or more screens showing you the view as you move. Pretty good, I thought. In fact, playing this adventure is a bit like taking part in an Indiana Jones movie.
With such a good plot and graphics, one would expect the game to have a limited number of locations, but this is not so. Just how big the game is I'm not sure, for I lost count of the number of places I visited when I switched to the fourth disk! Yes, I meant that - this one comes on four disks!
So map-drawing is a must when playing, especially as exits exist in tunnels and passages change in appearance in the same way as they would in real life.
There are two other features about The Mask Of The Sun that enhance the game. As well as the usual type of text input, there are occasions when the speed of your fingers over the keyboard will decide whether you live or die. Second, there are the red herrings. Most adventures, I know, have red herrings - but not like these! I'm not going to spoil the game for you by hinting at what they are, but I will tell you that even the most skilled adventurer could find himself totally misled without even realising it!
The Mask Of The Sun has set a standard that I think will be difficult to equal, let alone better. However, being an adventurer, I should know better than to say this! I look forward to seeing more from Broderbund Software.
The Mask Of The Sun is available for Atari 400/800/XL, Apple II and Commodore 64 for those of you who care to venture forth and grapple with it. Good luck!