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Willysoft UK
Ian Williams
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Gary Rook
Chris Bourne

The Realm would have been an easy program to review, if it hadn't been for the letter from the author which accompanied it. In said letter, said author explained his philosophy of adventure writing: as he sees it, the main problem with most adventures is that they make what in the real world are simple actions, like entering a house, into complex problems the solution of which depends on performing a number of different separate actions. This, he suggests, is frustrating, and he has avoided using such 'problems'.

With all that build up, I was expecting something rather special once I'd loaded up the actual program, which, like so many independent adventures, was written using The Quill, Patch or Illustrator - but, no...

Although the game has over 50 locations, all of which feature split screen illustrations, the game is a bit dull, with a plot that tends to be a trifle on the simplistic side and graphics that look a bit crude. This is all a bit unfortunate, as I suspect that quite a lot of effort has gone into writing the adventure.

Wandering through the wilderness north of Thryll Town, the cassette insert tells you, you find yourselves in some wild woods, populated with the usual assortment of adventuring stereotypes - the wizard, the minstrel, the old crone and so on.

One of the main problems with it is that you are so limited in what you can do. A quick glance at the cassette inlay will show you that there are only 36 possible commands which you can use, apart from the magic words which you can pick up during the adventure. Eight of these are compass directions, and up, down, in and out make up another four. Five are program commands, like Save or Load. That only leaves 19 different words with which to solve all the problems of a 50 location adventure!

It's a bit annoying to find a house very close to the start location, and to have problems trying to get in! It's all very well to burble on about making things simple for people, but you can't get much more simple that Enter - and to constantly get the reply hocus pocus is a bit discombobulating. Actually, you can get simpler - the correct command is In.

Similarly, if you want to get a room description again, then the standard L or Look are completely useless; only R - short for redescribe - will work.

The Realm is a decent, if unexciting, adventure program which is unlikely to appeal to experienced adventurers.

Either way I'm less than enthusiastic about the program on side two of the tape, Boxing Manager. If you like these management type games, then you might enjoy Boxing Manager - for a couple of hours. But there isn't really much to attract either serious sports fans or anyone looking for a challenging strategy game. You start with a boxer, who has ratings for strength, stamina and skill; you can hire a trainer to increase these ratings; the more a trainer can teach your lad, the more he costs to hire; you get more money by entering your fighter in contests which he wins; and that's it.

Label: Willsoft, 36 Walton Avenue, Windmill Lane, Sneinton, Nottingham NG3 2BS
Author: In-house
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K
Reviewer: Gary Rook

Decent if simplistic adventure with a very basic sports strategy game on the flip side.