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Compass Software
Jon R. Lemmon
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

How good to see a homegrown product that's a cut above the average. And it's a pretty good advert for Spectrum utilities too, as it makes use of The Quill, The Illustrator, The Patch, The Music Box, and The Art Studio. The author obviously hopes to sell a few copies just to pay for that little lot!

And sell a few he deserves to, though I wasn't won over by the storyline. It begins like five million others: "Long ago, in the first age of the Ring Master, a Falcon staff fell into the hands of Drakon, the wizard of Valonia." Yes, well, never mind all that tosh, what do you want me to do? Get back the staff? Fair enough, squire, and shut up that reader who said 'You can't get the staff these days.'

'Beware the raven,' you're warned before you begin, and as well as the usual Quill commands you're told you can type VOCAB to see the words at your disposal. Within the memory limits set, the author's done his best to produce some reasonably lengthy text. And the graphics aren't too bad either; some of them have moving elements as well. I shall ignore the spelling mistakes and concentrate on the wealth of options in the first few locations. My map's already a maze of lines and a mass of notes and I've only just started. Should I do a running repair on the statue first and cause the cave to collapse, why have the dead body and arrow disappeared at the edge of the giant lake, and do I use the Life Spell to restore the dead rat in the pit or maybe try it on the body?

Spells are a feature of the game; the Life Spell is the first you find, and examination of this shows you that it can bring the dead back to life, except for Dragons. What about Orics, we wonder. The problem of the pit is quite neat. The walls close in on you and you only have a plank of wood that can prop them apart.

This'll only work when the walls are close enough together, and even then it won't hold them for long! I didn't care for the Shadow Demon bumping me off unannounced, not without a RAM SAVE feature anyway, though clearly a source of light will sort him out when I find it. I think. What I don't think is that this adventure will keep the experts puzzling for too long, but a lot of thought has gone into it and it's definitely worth the price of admission.