Personal Computer News


C64 Heroic Quests

Author: Bob Chappell
Publisher: Level 9 Computing
Machine: Commodore 64

 
Published in Personal Computer News #041

C64 Heroic Quests

From the depths of space to the heart of a forest, Bob Chappell goes adventuring

More and more games players are turning to adventure as a change from shooting the invading hordes. They offer a more intellectual challenge, so to stimulate your brain cells here is a clutch of the latest for the Commodore 64.

Snowball

Nothing to do with Christmas, Snowball is a space ship near the end of its century-long voyage to Eridani A. But an act of sabotage has altered its course - directly into a star. Of course, with you on board, there's no need to get one's space suit in a twist. But it's not easy. You might shrug dismissively when you hear that the good ship Snowball has rooms to explore, but let's see your eyebrows stay as steady as Spock's when I tell you the ship is five miles long and has 7,000 rooms.

The Ring Of Power

Breathe easy. You can cut down; at best you need only visit 170 or so. While adventuring, you must solve many puzzles. What use are a Maxwell sink, a 101-way ribbon cable, a mempack, and a holowand? Who are Angel and Nightingale? What are eatsuckers and bumble bearings?

With detailed descriptions, plenty of puzzles, an interesting plot and a very fast response to input, this latest adventure from Level 9 continues its high standard and gets my seal of approval.

The Golden Baton

The Golden Baton is the first in the excellent series of Mysterious Adventures, all ten of which are available for the Commodore 64. The adventures are the standard text variety - with added extras.

The Ring Of Power

Each location is attractively presented as a colourful, hi-res picture, but at any time you can switch between graphics/text and text only. The input parser accepts commands that feel more natural than the usual verb-noun type.

The plot concerns the whereabouts of the Golden Baton, a priceless artefact stolen from the palace of King Ferrenuil. Unless your recover it, evil times will come upon your homeland. The adventure has a good collection of puzzles, some fairly easy, some tough.

Clearly much care has gone into the writing of the adventures (and the hint sheets). The programs have strong, tight plots and imaginative settings.

Exploring Adventures

The Ring Of Power

An unusual one, this. Published by Duckworth, an established book publisher, you get three adventures on one tape, and there's a companion book, Exploring Adventures on the C64, also published by Duckworth and costing 6.95.

The three adventures are Castlemaze, Tunnel and Underground. They are straight-forward text only adventures involving a search for treasure or a key through a labyrinth of caves, solving puzzles and dealing with thieves, sorcerers, spiders, snakes, gargoyles and other beasties.

You can buy the book and type them in (the book has a lot more about adventures), save your fingers and buy the tape. Although small and a little lacking in originality, three adventures for 7.95 is good value.

Forestland

p> From Supersoft comes this arboreal text-only adventure. You awake from a dream-troubled sleep to find yourself walking along a shady woodland path. Are you still dreaming or is this really happening to you? If it is real, what on earth are you doing here, and, even more worrying, will you ever find the way back to your warm bed? It's no good reading the cassette inlay for clues - it tells you how to play, not what it's about.

Following the path soon brings you to a tree with a door in it. No prizes for guessing you're going to need a key. And what's this large rabbit-hole? You can bet you're going to need light to peer down there but Forestland doesn't hand one to you on a plate.

The program accepts more complex input than just verb plus noun - commands such as "Put the green apple in the bag" can be used. Responses are instantaneous. The location descriptions are quite detailed and add to the enjoyment (so much better than the bare "You are in a cave. You can go east" type of narrative. Forestland has a "curioser and curioser" feel, but don't let that hole lead you to expect a white rabbit. p> Forestland is an interesting and fairly testing adventure which should appeal to most players.

Goblin Towers

Another one from Supersoft, Goblin Towers is more suitable for the novice adventurer (though an awkward maze and a sedentary giant puzzled me for a while).

The plot is straightforward - enter the ancient castle known as Goblin Towers, get the treasure, and get out. All good, clean fun - but beware the axe-swinging goblin. p> Again, fairly complex sentences can be handled and response is immediate - no twiddling of thumbs waiting to be told "You can't do that".

It's certainly worth a try if you're new to adventuring.

The Ring Of Power

Like The Golden Baton, this offers optional graphics with the text: But there the similarly ends. Each location in Ring of Power is boringly shown as three walls, adding nothing to the game. p> Fortunately, the graphics can be switched off, although the instructions don't tell you how (type PIC or TEXT). Small hi-res pictures of objects appear in both modes - a novel feature.

The vocabulary is limited, the setting (mostly in a house) dull and the text, when not in graphics modes, all lower case even when it shouldn't be, like starting a sentence or using the word I.

Although the program shows promise, it really needs a good overhaul. Its shortcomings detract from its merits and it falls short of Quicksilva's usual standard.

Bob Chappell

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