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The Edge
1986
Adventure: Graphic
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

44
Tommy Nash
Chris Bourne

And behold, it came to pass in the land of Fairlight that a darkness descended over all who lived there. (There'd been a sort of mystical power cut.) And Isvar entered the land to seek the Book of Light that would restore the kingdom to its former glory. And as it is foretold, he uncovered the book in the secret sections of Castle Avars. But lo, he then plonked it on a platter to the wrong person. Forsooth Isvar, thou art a proper nelly!

At this point, the first game in the Fairlight trilogy comes to an abrupt end. If you completed the opening part, you'll know that Isvar's been hanging around outside the gates of Castle Avars longer than the wait for the 73 bus on a Saturday night.

But now the wait is over. It's a good year since Isvar dumped the Book of Light right into the lap of the Lord Of Darkness and legged it. Fairlight II: Trail Of Darkness takes over on the very next screen.

So, what's it like in this brave new world then? Well, a bit like it was in the old world really, only green. Bo Jangeborg's turned over a new leaf and filled the land of Fairlight with trees. And the woods alive with weird wolves. Another couple of screens further on and you're on the beach and aaaargh! I s'pose whoever put that cliff there thought it was very funny - a sort of Bo jest!

You'll discover caves and craggy outcrops; there's a large annexe to the castle to explore plus you'll find a pirate ship.

On a bog-standard Speccy the game comes in two parts: you have to load the second one as soon as you've completed the first part. State-of-the-art Speccy owners got the lot in one go on a separate 128 version.

Of course, the two big questions are, how does Fairlight II differ from the original and does it match up? At first sight, the differences are very subtle - a few cosmetic changes to the screen border and that's about it. Then you start playing and you'll notice the big change. There's no longer a black-out as you move from screen to screen. Instead, Isvar beeps and stands still until the next screen is drawn. Okay, you get used to it, but it is a bit of a cop-out. We've seen much quicker methods of tackling the same problem in other games over the last year.

And this is the nub of the problem with Fairlight II. A lot of code's gone under the keyboard in the last year and Fairlight doesn't seem so revolutionary any more.

So much for the gripes, what are the good things? Well, the graphics are great - those wolves will have you howling! The puzzles are as complex as ever, or at least they seem so to someone who's yet to complete any of them. And mapping's going to be a nightmare. Try this for size - go out of one door, then back in again immediately. Yep, a different room!

Fairlight II: Trail Of Darkness may not come as quite such a shock as the first time you loaded its predecessor but it's still just as much a megagame. Now quick, before the lights go out completely in Fairlight...

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His bite's worse than his bark - but then what would you expect with the sound on the Speccy. Fortunately, the wolves aren't too tricky to dodge as they have a tendency to get stuck behind the vegetation.

Leave no stone unturned - you never know what you'll find hidden under them. And anyway, the stones can always come in useful when you need a quick leg up onto something.

One small problem is that Isvar slows down to a snail's pace whenever there's anything else on the screen. So, even if there's a hidden wolf prowling unde the poplars, you're given the due warning to watch out! But why wasn't an average speed chosen for all the screens and stuck to?

Yo ho ho. The pirates are proper little pieces of hate. In the original Fairlight you could kill a soldier and transport his helmet to a safe place. That's all changed now. The pirates vanish completely only to return when you re-enter a room. Pretty rum, eh?

May the force be with you - if it's not, you can wave goodbye to the rest of your quest. Starting at the top and counting down you lose a point every time you're touched by one of the nasties. And watch out for bubbles - they'll cost you ten energy points.

You gotta pick a pocket or two... or five. Isvar can carry up to five objects at one time but only if they're fairly light. One barrel and that's him just about done in. You just have to highlight the pocket you want to place an object in.

Where am I! What's happening? Looks like we've wandered into Batman. This really is a tricky puzzle - you have to alter the sequence of three platforms by standing in front of them and then jumping on them in order.

Roll out the barrel - you'll need to jump on the barrels to reach some of the hidden rooms.