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Central Solutions
M.J. Gearing
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

These games come in the 'dumped in your lap with no documentation now get on with it' category. I get the impression from what little I have that these two games are offered as the one package. Curse of Shaleth is a reasonable jaunt which has you cast as the captive of a collar curse which tightens around your neck as play progresses. Desperado is the type of game where, unlike Shaleth, it is easy to wander about for miles. In terms of difficulty the games compare like chalk and cheese.

Curse of Shaleth proves very difficult beyond the fourth location. I should know because this is how far I could get. The first frame goes like this: 'Evil taints the air as you stand alone in the lair of Shaleth, master sorcerer and mightiest of the Dark Lords. To the north an iron door stands open, the dark passage beyond offering little in the way of escape. The bleak stone walls, unadorned but for the years of dust, surround and seem to imprison you'. Any mistakes in the above can be attributed to the fact that the redesigned character set, though atmospheric, is difficult to read.

In the very first location you meet the body of Shaleth which, when examined, appears unconscious. SEARCH BODY and you discover a silver amulet. As you search, the collar tightens around your neck, an evil laugh fills your mind, and the body of Shaleth decides to disappear. That leaves you with just the globe but at least the program differentiates between SEARCH and EXAM, something I always take as a good sign. Inside the globe is the Eye of the Runes, trapped within the crystal but EXAMining the runes reveals nothing special, while READing the runes gives the abrupt 'You can't do that'. EXAMining the amulet does give 'the amulet is strange, half wolf and half bird. An inscription says, this trinket has power, three times may you spend. Just utter the word but look to the end.' To the north, through an open door, you find a rusty saw which proves useless when trying to saw the barred windows to the east and west. I've given you all the clues, now can you get any further?

Let's have a look at the flipside story. A week ago the sheriff drove out of town with a posse to capture Black Jake and his gang who robbed the Sweetwater Stage for the fifth time. As deputy you are left in sole charge of law and order. You're now getting anxious about the fate of the sheriff maybe it's time you rode out to aid in the capture of that low-down, no-good, two-timing Desperado. The game has a lot of desert, cotton grass flats, and general darkness on the edge of towns. There's the usual Western adornments of Jailhouse, Undertaker, Saloon and Hotel through which you pass looking for the odd stetson, canteen, and the occasional hand of poker. Any problems I did meet were very easy to deal with perhaps deceptively so?


Difficulty: easy
Graphics: passable
Presentation: Okay
Input facility: v/n
Response: fast
General Rating: Not bad.


Screenshot Text

Stumping around outside the town jail in DESPERADO - you're just across the street from the saloon in case thirst overcomes you.