Central Solutions
Not Known
1986
Compilation
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Undetermined

65,66
Richard Price
Chris Bourne

THE VAST BOX of games from Central Solutions held a number of adventures written on the Quill, some with graphics and some without.

You'll pay £1.99 for single graphic games but they're also available in twin packs at £2.99. Take care, because some of these adventures are back-to-back with arcade games, so check before you buy.

The plain text games were originally marketed under the Pocket Money Software label at 99p each, and it seems as if some of these have also been put back-to back to create the Double Play adventure label. If you want further details it's probably best to drop Central Solutions a line. Central Solutions operates from 500 Chesham House, 150 Regent Street, London W1R 5FA.

Out of this bumper bundle I chose one of the £2.99 double adventure packs, one graphic, one plain text. The dramatic cover of Father of Darkness portrays Adolf Hitler in characteristic strutting pose before his occult symbol of destruction, the swastika. The loading screen shows a lurid picture of graffiti daubed on a wall urging 'Death to Nazis'. From this I was expecting a sort of Quilled War Picture Library game full of machine guns and SS officers. Not at all the case in reality.

The background and storyline is actually more mystic than macho and you find yourself in the role of Art, a young lad undergoing training from his Druidic master at Glastonbury in the depths of the dark ages. Art of course is Arthur and his master, Merlin.

Merlin explains that the great sword of power, Excalibur, has been stolen by the Father of Darkness. This foul being has pulled the sword through time and now uses its magic to subjugate all the peoples of Europe beneath his heel.

Because of the theft of the sword, Art's land is withering and the other future world is dying. Merlin stresses the urgency for some hero to journey through time to recover the weapon and thus free the two worlds from the curse. He asks Art to accept and takes him into the night. There he leaves him in a gloomy cave.

Asking for help here results in finding a bicycle lamp on the floor. Switch on and a door will be revealed which takes you out into a terrifying new world - "There is so much noise. I can see metallic monsters rushing up and down. I see the people streaming towards a temple. It is a dangerous and strange world."

By following the people into the 'temple' you'll realise that you've really entered a cinema in wartime London. "All the people are sitting in an almost reverent manner watching a bright and flickering large window at the far end. In the window is a view of daylight showing great metal monsters standing on iron belts, with flashes and smoke pouring from tubes set in their tops."

This is only part of one of the longer descriptions which have a significant effect in scene-setting. Using Look will often provide more detail. Make sure you make good use of the Help facility - it not only offers advice but, on occasion, makes things happen. If you use it in the cinema someone will drop a box which you may well need later in the game. You'll have to examine it before you can pick it up.

You will encounter Merlin again within a short time. He will act as a spiritual guide through the two parts of the game and his advice should be heeded. He tends to disappear when things start getting rough but, once you've accomplished a task, he'll come back to take you through the next portion.

The graphics are drawn on the Illustrator without the Patch - most of these games are pre-Patch. As such they can be slow but there are a limited number of pictures which cuts down on the time-wasting. In general, the two parts of Father of Darkness are well-presented on screen, with an effective use of colour labelling, flash and so on.

In the first part you must find your way from London into occupied Europe and then, in the second, track down Hitler in his Eagle's Lair. It's an intelligent, well written game.

On the other side of the tape is Murder a standard detective game set in a hotel. There's the usual Agatha Christie cast and you are equipped with four specific questions you can use to interrogate suspects. Only the murderer will lie to you, so your main aim is to catch someone out about their alibis or motives. It has a Cluedo feel to it but isn't bad as such games go - I confess to not being a great fan of detective stories of this type. If you're keener than I am you'll probably get something out of it.

Whatever the case, with one two-part program and another entirely different game on the other side, you're not doing badly for £2.99. Father of Darkness alone will cost only £1.99. The rating reflects those bargain prices.

Richard Price

Father of Darkness/Murder
Publisher: Central Solutions
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K

****

4/5

Screenshot Text

Father of Darkness

Father of Darkness