Long ago, when the world of adventure games was young, there was a trilogy of adventures called the Ket Trilogy.
And lo, Incentive Software did promise great rewards to the first being to solve all three: many tried, but none didst succeed, and there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. Until, from the frozen lands to the north there came a hero, Tom Frost by name, who didst vanquish the trials of Ket: and he didst bear away the sacred video recorder unto his homeland...
And if you think that little excursion into the mists of history isn't relevant, yah boo sucks to you because it is. The two adventures reviewed here - Castle Eerie and Shipwreck - both on one tape - have been written by that same Tom Frost and, judging from what I've been able to see of them so far that wily Scot hasn't lost the touch that made him arguably one of the country's greatest adventurers.
Both programs were written with the Quill, Patch and Illustrator, which Tom acknowledges, and the package is priced accordingly.
Castle Eerie casts you as a sort of James Bond. Your task: to penetrate the defences of the aptly named Castle Eerie, somewhere in the wilds of Scotland, find out who is causing strange lights and noises, escape with whatever evidence you can find, and get back to civilisation and call in the police sort out the villains.
You begin outside the castle door. It's locked, so you have to find an alternative way in.
Once inside, be careful. There are various nasty little traps which will bring armed guards down upon you like the proverbial Assyrians, and that will be the end of your investigative career. Don't open the door unless you've done something about the alarm; and don't fiddle around with the grandfather clock.
Apart from that, you have other problems facing you, some more difficult than others, but all challenging and interesting.
In Shipwreck, you have a rather different plot. You've saved all your money and sent yourself for a nice long restful South Pacific cruise. It's a beautiful sunny day and the small fire in the engine room is absolutely nothing to worry about... or is it?
Well, yes, it is actually. And if you don't work out what to do pretty soon, you're going to find yourself doing the dog paddle in a shark infested ocean.
You can't get into the life boat. You can't get hold of a life belt. You can't go on to the bridge without a signed permit, and where can you get one of those? The ship's shop sells maps, but you don't have any money, which means that you can't have a stiff one at the bar either. And for some reason, the steward refuses to let you into the lounge or the dining room. Perhaps you're not a first class passenger? Or - horrors - maybe you need a tie. Watch out for the swimming pool - otherwise you hit your head and end up in the sick bay; not the right place to be if the ship is about to go down. Then again, perhaps it is - what could that nurse do for you?
Both programs are excellent examples of good old fashioned adventure writing. No frills, just solid problems tied together with a decent plot. The graphics are more than adequate, although I got a bit tired of the deck scenes in Shipwreck - one promenade deck looks very much like another.
Label: Tartan Soft, 61 Barlie Norrie Crescent, Montrose, Angus, DD10 9DT
Author: Tom Frost
Reviewer: Gary Rook
Two very decent adventures at a bargain basement price. Budget programs at their best - mail-order only, though.