The adventure takes place on Discworld. Sounds like a groovy record shop down the high street, eh? Well, you're wrong. Discworld is a world very similar to our own, except that it's almost completely different. It's actually the shape of a disc for one thing (Flat Earth Society, eh?) and it rotates, though whether at 33 or 45 rpm I don't know. It does mean. though, that directions for travel are rather unusual, being Hubward, Rimward, Turnwise and Widdershins, or H. R. T and W for short. Discworld is supported by four gargantuan elephants who're hitching a ride through the infinite vastness of space on the back of a turtle named Great A'Tuin. The academic theory is that Great A'Tuin has come from nowhere and will spend the rest of infinity going there. An alternative theory is that A'Tuin and all the other stars in the skies (also all on the backs of giant turtles) are crawling from The Birthplace to The Time of Mating, where much passion will occur in creating new turtles to carry new worlds. This is known as the Big Bang Theory!
Rincewind, the hero, is a wizard, and an unlucky one at that. He can't learn any new spells because when he began his training one of the eight spells of The Octavo became hopelessly lodged in his brain, leaving no room for any more. If he lived in another book he would undoubtedly be thought to have a Babel Fish in his ear as well, as he's an excellent translator, and another virtue is his virtual indestructibility. He lives in the city of Ankh Morpork on Discworld.
This four-part adventure begins with Rincewind sitting in a dark corner of the Broken Drum (the pub you can't beat). Rincewind's flat broke and the beer's just flat. Enter Blind Hugh followed by a four-eyed creature, which in turn is followed by a wooden chest trotting in on hundreds of tiny feet. The creature is Twoflower, a tourist, and the chest is his luggage. A certain confusion arises when Twoflower tries to speak, his language being straight out of a phrasebook. Naturally you step in and offer your services, though the landlord tells you the Discworld equivalent of 'Bog off!' Persevere, though, adventure players, as this is where the story really starts.
As this adaptation of Terry Pratchett's fantasy novel has been done for Piranha! Macmillan by Delta 4, you can imagine the results. The combination of Judith Child, Fergus McNeill and Colin Buckett has come up with an adventure that's probably one of the closest I've seen to being truly interactive fiction rather than just problem-solving. I admit to disliking the game the first time I played it, as nothing much seemed to happen, although it did give me a chance to map out Ankh Morpork. On loading it up a second time, however, the story really began to take off. All you know to begin with is that you're acting as a tourist guide to Twoflower - unless you've read the book, of course.
While acting as guide, you get confronted by one of the Ankh Morpork rushes, who kidnaps Twoflower, and it's up to you to get him back. Questioning someone provides you with some information, and after a rescue operation in which the luggage proves that it's not just along for the walk, you go on to discover that the landlord seems to be about to set fire to the Broken Drum.
You can load up the later three parts whenever you like, but you'll need a previously saved game in each case, and if you haven't progressed far enough you might find yourself in fairly unusual and useless circumstances later on. Part Two dumps you in an Ankh Morpork that's seemingly being burnt to the ground looks like there's a lot of arson about.
Lots of the Delta 4 humour comes through, and I'd be interested to see how much is from the original book and how much invention for the adventure. There are the usual screenloads of text that we've come to expect, and the game definitely has a Boggit/Bored feel to it. Graphics are reasonably good when they appear, and you can switch them off as well as use the welcome RAM SAVE option. Most important of all, though, is that you do get drawn into the story and involved with the characters - I really found myself looking at my map of Ankh Morpork and thinking 'Now where can I take Twoflower next?' I was most upset when he got kidnapped, and was determined to get him back.
By the time I'd finished my third session with the game, I'd managed to improve my rating to a reasonably pleasing 'Dire', though that's certainly not my verdict on the adventure. Put it to the top of your shopping list now!