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Melbourne House
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Here's the one all you villains out there have been waiting for, and I know from my mailbag that lots of you are fans of the Lever-Jones style of adventure writing. I liked Hampstead, but was disappointed by the follow-up, Terrormolinos, so it's good to report that Dodgy Geezers a treat. Must be all those hours I've spent watching Minder, because the lingo in this one is right up Arthur Daley's street, though I'll spare you what every other reviewer will probably do, which is try to cobble together a review full of phrases like 'Leave it out, John', 'Straight up' and 'A nice little earner for Melbourne House.'

You've just done three years at Her Majesty's pleasure and you're back on the loose. Are you still a villain, though? What! Is the Pope a Catholic? The first thing you'll want to do is set up a job, ignoring the advice of BulletProof George who's released the same day as you and tells you to go straight. Go straight to Ron Riggs bookies, more like, or the Korner Kaff to see which of the old gang is still around.

You can find out about the lads, or should that be lags, just by examining the wanted posters that are scattered about the place. Lads like Mr Video, Cracker, Tweedle Dee and even Little Ken. It's hard to rate the graphics in this game, as quality's high but quantity's low, though that doesn't matter too much as there's plenty going on in the text to keep you amused ... and baffled.

My first piece of advice is to make sure you do your map on a big sheet of paper, and spread the locations out because there are plenty of them and my own map soon started to look like the Spaghetti Junction interchange - pretty apt since the job you were put away for was the famous Long Ditton Spaghetti Caper. The WAIT command has been retitled as HANG ABOUT, and make full use of that as this is the type of game where you've got to be in the right place at the right time and slowly piece together what information you can about what's going on and when in your little patch. For instance, go to a builder's yard at night and all you find is a locked hut, but go in the day and you may be able to provide yourself with a pickaxe left lying around by the workmen. Shops, banks and pubs keep to their regular opening hours, and you're given an update on what time and day it is, though the game isn't very accurate as you can stay in a place like the bank overnight, if you like, while the other characters still go about their business.

Most of the business is predictably dodgy - alarms go off and characters run through the streets laden with videos and the like. The aim of the first part of the game is to piece together a gang that you can take into part two and then pull off the crime. Your progress is impeded by a mysterious man in white Gucci shoes who appears after 200 moves and fills your wellies with cement before suggesting a little late-night swimming. You can check how close you are to that midnight dip by typing TURNS, though that command isn't documented.

SAVE regularly, especially when you reach the tunnel that leads to the dog- track. There you're asked for a tip by Tweedle, and he gets right cheesed off and disappears if you don't pick the right doggie from runners like Dagenham Lad and Arthur's Dream. All good dishonest fun, right down to the Chas and Dave records on the juke box in the Frog and Peach. Buy it and make it a nice little earner for Melbourne House. Sorry! I forgot.