QUESTION: name one of the earliest non-arcade games for the home micro? Answer: the quiz. Simple!
Question: why do software houses carry on producing quiz programs? Answer: ahh... uhhh... Pass!
And I suspect that will be the reaction to Quiz Quest - the general public will pass it by. To be fair though, it does have several things going for it. One problem with computer quizzes, is typing in answers. Quiz Quest overcomes this by opting for multiple choice.
The other pleasing aspect is the game format and presentation. Questions appear letter by letter, teleprinter style, and for each one you answer, a block turns red at the top of the screen. Eight blocks and the moment of truth: if you've got them all right you'll probably find fame in the high score table, but even one error calls for a retake, and immediately you're transferred back to the first wrong answer to have another go.
Now comes the first puzzle concerning the program. Why, if you're racing against time, doesn't the time seem to matter in the Hall of Fame which is arranged solely by fewest errors?
Don't ponder that too long. The biggest brainteaser comes with the loading procedure. As with many quizzes, the questions load separately from the control program, allowing for data on several subjects. Included are questions on sport, TV, pop and general knowledge sections, and Alligata promises a second tape with over 2000 questions on ten new topics for only £4.99. Unless you look at the tape labels, though, you're unlikely to realise that all these blocks of code are on the B-side.
So what's all that program following the main program, which you've been cursing as it refused to load? Quiz Quest loads in three main parts, the final one on the first side being a data preparation routine. Eventually, with some trial and error, you'll discover where everything is on the tape.
The data preparation section lets you create your own questions, up to 60 characters long, with three answers of, at the most, 25 characters. It's very easy to use and the editor facility allows you to correct errors. A pity then that a couple of spelling mistakes have crept through into the databases provided.
As to difficulty, it's subjective and the mix of questions seems quite good, though topics like TV and pop questions might soon be outdated.
A final question: is Quiz Quest worth buying? Answer: while it's a reasonable quiz game and the price is most definitely right, I can't see it raising much enthusiasm.
Programmers: Tom Goldsmith, Michael Kindred, Malcolm Goldsmith