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8th Day Software
1985
Adventure: Text
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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52,53
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

8TH DAY SOFTWARE received some pretty fine reviews when they began their Games Without Frontiers series almost two years ago. Now these Quilled games are to be re-released for new computer owners, with many additional features which will make these cheapies even better buys. Obvious updates include the inclusion of graphics on some locations, and RAM save and load. Also, there is a text-only version of the game on the flip-side for ascetics who prefer a wordier approach. 8TH DAY are also considering rereleasing some of the other five games from their Games Without Frontiers label. These will be rated for difficulty (Beginner, Standard and Advanced), so a beginner can find a comfortable level from which to progress.

The first of these releases, Four Minutes to Midnight, was inspired by the Stephen King novel, The Stand, and follows you and your fellow survivor's attempts to come to terms with a bacteriological catastrophe which has devastated America, wiping out some 90% of the population. Why the other 10% can shake off the bacteria isn't yet clear, perhaps they're immune to the bug. They form groups to try and re-establish order from the chaos following the outbreak. Journeying across America you must find as many companions as you can, utilising their skills to help you overcome the many problems that litter the road to a more stable society. But there is more on your mind; wouldn't it be a good idea to seize the chance now to rid the menace of nuclear arms, now that the silos lie unguarded. Perhaps with a party of like-minded people, the warheads could be de-activated and a new generation spared another holocaust.

Impressive new features have been grafted onto these old adventures to bring them bang up-to-date. Due to the nature of the game, the command RECRUIT (DAVE) has been included, with PARTY giving the make-up of the team you have built up so far. A member is dropped with LEAVE, while FEED is used to direct food at those members most in need of strength. To help you decide who is most worthy the command, HISTORY gives you the low-down on a character's past, while STATISTICS give you a character's profile with all important technical, engineering, social and strength attributes. However, due to a reluctance of members to divulge their respective pasts, a psychic is needed to release these personal facts.

You kick off on the forecourt of a small gasoline station which is in a terrible, deserted state. But what's this? A car is careering down the road towards the station and if not stopped, will turn the whole scene into a blazing inferno. You're only given a few moves to resolve this situation, so you can see you have a very tough start to this one and the game's tag of Advanced Difficulty makes itself felt right from the off. Finding the members which make up your team isn't a picnic either, although Dave obligingly pops up from within the first few locations. At just about the time when things are beginning to run smoothly, the time element comes into play with the sun deciding its had enough for one day. SLEEP and WAIT are the obvious correctives, although a quick succession of LOOKS (L) does the trick along with just about anything else. Getting the BMX bicycle speeds you on your way, while entering every building or object will see you recruiting another member before your nerves crack.

Four Minutes to Midnight is available by mail-order from 8TH DAY, 18 Flaxhill, Moreton, Wirral L46 7UH. The games were well received on their first release some time ago and now, in their improved format, they represent good value for money. The difficult nature of the adventure, and its sophisticated commands such as RECRUIT, TIME, and HISTORY, should ensure a following amongst adventure buffs.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: not to be taken lightly
Graphics: below average
Presentation: okay
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: fast
General Rating: Classic cheap game.

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