Acorn User1st September 1988
Published in Acorn User #074
Although it's a division of Telecomsoft, Rainbird is a little-known in the BBC games field - they don't actually sell any BBC games! But its four Magnetic Scrolls adventures do work under the Archimedes IBM PC emulator. The only hurdle is that they come on 5.25" discs. So you need to use a 5.25" external drive interface (from CJE Micros, Watford or Beebug) or get access to an IBM machine with both flavours of drive and back the game up to 3.5". Rainbird do allow you to make backup copies for personal use.
Once in the appropriate format, the games are started with a simple command. You'll be presented with a brief introduction to the adventure, followed by the description of the first location.
If you've seen these adventures on an ST or Amiga, then this may be a bit of a disappointment. My version of the PC emulator can't cope with the 320 x 200 pixel 16-colour graphics. But the descriptions are colourful enough. In my opinion, the most important part of an adventure is how good the parser is. The better it is, the easier it is to tell the computer to do something, and the Rainbird parser is extensive and easy to use. It allows you to use complex sentences including words like 'all' and 'except', pronouns such as 'it' and 'him' and adverbs such as 'quickly' and 'quietly'. The parser is certainly more sophisticated than any adventures produced for the Model B.
Screen layout is simple. A main text area plus a single status bar at the top showing your score, number of moves and a two or three-word description of your location is very useful for mapping.
The Pawn is the most conventional of the four I tried; the world you explore, Kerovnia, consists of the typical plethora of caves, castles and caverns, with the old forest and lava river. The aim is to remove the magical arm-band that you are wearing, but before this can be achieved you must commune with mystic gurus, rescue princesses and even go to hell!
The Guild Of Thieves again places you in Kerovnia, but this time you must collect or steal as much loot as you can, and return to the master spy. Armed only with What Burglar? magazine, you must penetrate the castle, grab what you can, then enter the caves and maybe the weird temple. Again, this is a fairly conventional adventure, although the scenario does make more sense than The Pawn - you don't suddenly find houses down coal mines!
Jinxter is my current favourite, mainly because of its humour. You have been given the task of assembling the Lost Doodah of Thingy (as your Guardian Len Wossname would put it). Apparently, it's been nicked by Ms Jannedor Nasty, who's going to use it for some illicit purpose. How do you finish the game? Werl, don't wanna give nuffin away so you better find out yourself, narmean?
Finally, the newest of the four, Corruption, is bang up to date. Set in modern-day London, the aim is to stay alive in the corrupt world of big money. I got 'done' by the serious fraud squad within three hours (game time) - I don't think I'm really cut out for this lark. My advice is to watch the film 'Wall Street' first. The instructions come ready-punched with six holes for your personal organiser.
These adventures are of a very high quality - a lot of thought has gone into the plots, puzzles and even the packaging. If you like a good adventure and have the cash, then I can't recommend any of them highly enough. I'm going to have another go at Corruption, and see if I can get anywhere in my BMW...