Good grief! A real, honest to goodness, commercial text/graphics adventure! Hurrah! Who needs those fancy film and arcade licences, eh? Not when you've got Enid Blyton on your side, chaps. Oh, and the Famous Five, of course.
Five on a Treasure Island is an engaging adventure that includes some intriguing character handling, using a system called Worldscape. The game begins when Julian, Anne and Dick travel to Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny's house (what was Enid thinking of when she created these characters?!). This is the very first Five adventure so they've yet to meet George, the tomboy girl, and her dog, Timmy. From there they worm their way onto treasure island, full of stereotyped villains and secret caves.
The game world is dynamic which means events move on while you wait. I'm not a big fan of this type of wandering character system; it doesn't present realism - just an impression of a game full of aimless manic zombies.
You can TELL and SAY things to characters as well as ASKing them ABOUT things. Characters have their own special facets so you can ask a character to perform an action you might not be capable of.
You can also BECOME any of the Famous Five (except the dog). Each character has their own advantages: Julian is strong while George is the best swimmer. You can even split the Five up to explore several directions at once and this is essential to solve some of the problems.
The parser is up to modern standards with linked sentences using AND, THEN and commas. Prepositions can be used to alter the meaning of verbs, and group commands such as ALL and EVERYTHING are included.
During play, the screen is divided into two sections. The upper portion of the screen contains all descriptions, messages and graphics, which pop up for selected locations. They're very well drawn and appear instantly on-screen - pretty good going for graphics of this complexity. The lower section is the text input area.
Highlights and criticisms fall upon the parser. When you can't examine something, the word EXAM is automatically displaced, ready for you to EXAMine something else - very thoughtful and user-friendly. But the parser doesn't understand some basic words included in the location descriptions although memory restrictions may be a factor here.
Criticisms apart, this is a well produced game with lots of imaginative production techniques. Let 's hope there are some more Famous Five games on the way, eh?
Imaginative, well designed but with one or two minor quirks.
We're at the seaside (hurrah!) and we've just punched Dick (double-hurrah! He's an annoying git).