Personal Computer News6th October 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #031
Not being a Western fan I had to look up 'gulch' in the dictionary to find out that it means a ravine, especially with gold deposits. Most greedy prospectors heading out from this town in the search for gold however, will end up spending most of their time wandering aimlessly in the search for gold, however, will end up spending most of their time wandering aimlessly in the desert with not a nugget in sight.
This is a great pity, because "Greedy Gulch with its saloon, stock yard and sheriff's office has all the atmosphere of the Wild West."
You begin in an old ghost mining town which, you are told, contains all the clues to lead you to a lost gold mine. Your first task is to decipher the clues. You must collect the necessary tools to survive in the desert and equip yourself to work the mine.
Finally you have to get the gold nugget back to the sheriff's office, all the while dodging the mysterious strangers who are stealthily following your every move.
The computer responds to commands in single English having a hidden vocabulary of about one hundred words. You score points by collecting the right equipment in the right order and by following an intelligently planned route to the mine.
But be careful - if you ignore veiled warnings you are likely to meet sudden death or slow death from thirst in the desert.
The illustration on the cassette cover sets the mood with a cartoon of an eerie Western frontier town and a revolver in the foreground. Loading the program is easy. Text appears on the screen explaining the object of the game and basic operating instructions.
Some possible courses of action, including commands such as ENTER ASSAY OFFICE or GO NORTH are explained before you start.
It is always possible to recall a "help screen". This has the basic instructions but unfortunately they are of little use when you are trying to do something the least bit complicated, like breach the impenetrable walls of the stockade, for example.
On starting the game you arrive in the middle of the town. Your position is presented in plan from at the top of the screen. A scrolling text beneath asks "What shall I do now?". If you decide to enter one of the buildings a rather diagrammatic 3D colour picture appears of the interior.
In general the graphics are extremely crisp and colourful but come up on screen rather slowly. The most useful information is contained in the text description which appears underneath.
Objects that you can collect are also listed and it rapidly becomes clear that cupboards must be opened and papers inspected. Sometimes the text poses riddles. You are told for instance that you have to work hard to gain a drink of water.
It took many attempts before I realised I must type in USE PUMP three times running in order to obtain a full bottle. Unfortunately the sound on this program is limited to the odd 'beep' and the text alone tells you the pump 'gurgles' and the gun goes 'bang'.
I even shot myself once in desperation.
The program boats a machine-coded English command line scanner for fast word recognition. This produces a satisfactory rapid response to commands, although the replies are generally elementary and humourless.
Finding the right command to deal with each hazard is part of the game and can be enjoyable.
When I came to the ravine I suggested a variety of elaborate bridge techniques, using the carefully collected poles and plank, only to discover, after much investigation, that the successful order was JUMP (plank and all!).
Although seemingly useful gear for the world-be prospector abounds, only six items can be carried at once.
I agonised for quite some time before heading across the desert with miner's lamp but no hat.
Your score can be displayed at any time. As the game is likely to continue to puzzle you for several evenings you have the option to "Quit" or to store your position in the game on tape for reloading at a later date.
Before you quit it is worth trying HINT although the program is sparing with its advice.
Unfortunately the mystery of Greedy Gulch is still a closed cassette to me. I have not yet broken into the stockyard nor discovered the mine. I did spend many boring hours plodding haphazardly around the desert.
The presentation of the desert maze in particular was a little uninspired.
The same picture just keeps coming up wherever you look and you become very familiar with the yellow sand dunes, the shrivelled cactus and the dead steer.
Those who are particularly practised in adventure games may well progress faster than I did. Greedy Gulch should provide an enjoyable challenge for most players.
The game must be considered weak on originality and humour, but it certainly does employ sensible locations and the problems usually require common sense or logic to solve them
Maybe this is why I didn't get very far! I might recommend this game as a good prospect for minors but it certainly is not my pick of the week.