Pacific Software
Not Known
1984
Adventure: Text
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

100,102
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

If you take satisfaction in the journalistic expose based upon hours of painstaking investigation and the dogged tracking of hot leads then you will revel in the knowledge that this game, despite some of the more elaborate devices of concealment, can now be exposed as a Quilled game. But let me immediately deflate the impact of the news. Far from hours it really only took me minutes to come to this conclusion and further, although Quilled, this game departs to such a significant degree from earlier Quilled adventures, it would be most unfair to write it off as yet another adventure clone. To make an impact this type of game must offer something new in the way of theme or interest and I think here we have an original work and a consistently well-executed concept.

The story on the cassette inlay is a teeny bit garbled so I think I'll feed it through the journalese machine which crunches up all the words and blends them into a soft gooey sandwich spread sandwich spread (stretching all the facts in the process). The scene of the game is the old abandoned amusement park of Funhouse (abandoned amusement parks, like phone boxes that work, are things which have no parallel in the real world). Now, let's throw in some aliens to spice things up, a sprinkle of zombies, three dollops of green slimy dwarf, mix well and top off with a powerful brain to run it all and if this software takes off perhaps some American Film Financier could use material like this to produce the hit of 86. Herman Hermit must produce the sound track but (like the original?) he is half insane and talks in riddles.

Your quest is to search for and destroy the alien's brain. Two objects are most important to the quest The Golden Mask, said to be in two pieces, which will protect you should you gaze upon the brain. The Golden Key is said to have the power to take the life force from the brain. This adventure will take the utmost care as the green slimy dwarves, or Gromuts, have created traps of the most despicable nature which will often result in an early death.

Let's have a look at how the game plays.

Once you get over the iron gate at the start and illuminate your way with the torch of Herman gives you (it must be night - eerie) you will find a very large adventure just waiting to be explored. The overall layout has been well thought through and the distribution of objects intelligent and logical - searching around the old ticket office turns up a ticket which Proves useful for one of the fairground rides later on. Examine and search are almost always useful to the extent where if an inquiry comes to nought it might well be only the wording which needs refinement to bring some new facts to light. It is worth noting that search is distinct from examine to the extent SEARCH CHAIR brings a less than useful response while EXAMINE CHAIR reveals the goodies. The rest of the vocabulary is friendly and it's worth being persistent as often only the correct (but mostly obvious) word is accepted eg EXIT takes you out of the old ticket office caravan while OUT leaves you flummoxed amongst the litter of old ticket stubs.

The storyline is interesting and most lucid and after much playing threads begin to come together to tie up a coherent plot. For example, what would you make a badly scratched and chewed kennel, a snapped chain and a discarded bone? Almost everything you meet can work or show some animation. The vandalised telephone box responds to ANSWER PHONE and the rust remover does indeed remove rust, but in one instance ends up in one of the many instant deaths where once you realize your fate it is too late. (Incidentally, it's GET RUST REMOVER and not GET REMOVER). One item I couldn't get to work was the brass machine with a handle on one side - a shame since it turned out to be a 'What the butler saw' contraption.

The graphics, where they occur, are simple either using repeated formats or amounting to no more than the odd signpost pointing the way and represent the bare minimum for the generic subscript 'graphic adventure'. Like the rest of the program, the response time for the graphics is very fast and there's very little to prevent you shooting around most of the adventure from the off. Who knows, if you can deal with the malevolent attentions of the three Gromuts, Beltsnog, Ristlig and Talsnig (usually first encountered when you pick up food dropped by Herman) you might have a crack at getting through in one long session. Most though will be defeated by the sheer length of this one.

Funhouse is an aptly named program as it does indeed put some of the fun back into computing, not so much through silly jokes but via a good imaginative plot. The game is quite long with most locations opened up for exploration right from the start, a system which offers the interest of having many problems to solve at any one time. An amusement park is a super setting and you do get the feeling of having the run-around of a park and all that entails. Great fun

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: moderate
Graphics: some primitive illustrations
Presentation: good
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: very fast
General Rating: Quite good and original scenario.

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