You may recognise the title 'Twice Shy' - it is the name of the book by Dick Francis, on which this adventure is based. Mosaic, who specialise in 'bookware', commissioned Ram Jam to computerise the story.
The story is based around Jonathan Drew, whose role you play. Friends in Norwich, the Keithlys, are in trouble - Donna has stolen someone's baby, and your wife Susan rushes off to help as the game starts.
Before long, you are following her up there in your dusty Peugeot. You soon become involved in an intrigue concerning some cassette tapes which come into your possession, and lead you into danger. What is on them is up to you to find out, and perhaps you will then have a better idea what to do with them.
Since the scene of the action moves between London suburbia and Norwich, there are considerable distances to travel in your dusty Peugeot. Moving off the local roads, you simply follow the signs round the M25, turn off on to the M11, and make sure you don't get lost on the interchange!
The short distances from room to room, and in the same vicinity, are walkable. Thus, there are places you cannot go on foot, and places you cannot take the car, and the two are merged together quite realistically - quite an achievement, as you will already know if you have tried writing an adventure with that sort of scenario!
In Twice Shy, you even have to get out of the car to buy petrol. If you then try to start it up, forgetting you haven't got back in, the Ram Jam humour shows through with a 'Just how long do you think your arms are?' message!
It pays to have a fair bit of cash on you, for there is the inevitable AA man, who, after you've tried driving up the wrong carriageway, will gladly repair your car - for an arm and a leg! If you can't pay, he will move off, "...leaving you to QUIT", as the message says. And it meant it!
The book has a horse-racing theme, and of course, Newmarket is en route to Norwich. This is where Twice Shy departs from the ordinary run-of-the-mill adventure. If you get to the racecourse at the right time, you can go racing, which involves loading in the game on the reverse side of the tape. Here you will find six events on which you can gamble - and it is said that some of the horses' names provide clues to the adventure. But, more than that, the money you have in your adventure inventory, can be used for betting, and your winnings (if any!) can be taken back with you when you quit the races.
Four runners compete in each case, and their odds are displayed. Before placing a bet, you can call up a separate screen showing the form of each mount, for a better informed gamble. When bets are placed, the race is shown in animated graphics.
For non-adventure fans who like a flutter, the racing can also be played as a stand-alone game.
Ram Jam have developed their own very sophisticated Adventure System, which they call the 'Biro'. Twice Shy is the second game they have produced with it, and the first to reach the C64. Very impressive it is too.
The screen is split into three windows, plus an attractive graphic horsey logo at the top. A fairly small window displays the location graphics, but the picture within is surprisingly effective, and instantaneous to display. There is also a location text window, whilst the lower half of the screen carries the conversation between player and computer.
All the windows are edged with a yellow border, and the whole screen has a most attractive and colourful look about it. Even on moving location, when there are changes occuring in all three windows, the response time is extremely fast - in the order of a couple of seconds.
Mosaic stress that it is not intended that you should have read the book to be able to play the game. However, it might make for a more interesting session on the computer, and give you a few pointers as to what to do next.
Twice Shy cleverly combines two games of a very different nature into one, providing good entertainment value with a professional finish.