1985
Adventure: Text
£9.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

112
Richard Price
Chris Bourne

IF YOU are like me, it may take something more than an electric cattle prod to get you to a movie about little furry creatures, however lovable or terrifying they may be. That being the case, I approached Gremlins with trepidation, a large bucketful of salt and a lack of any knowledge of the story behind the title.

It came as a surprise to find that those wee beasties were every bit as fearsome as the meanest orc or ill-tempered dragon. They make East End football supporters look like choirboys.

The game comes from the Adventure International stables and is a text adventure with graphics. The plot probably makes more sense if you saw the film but in essence it is simple - which is more than can be said for the solution.

The all-American township of Kingston Falls is bedevilled by a plague of gremlins, furballs gone bad. Led by Stripe, arch-apostle of ultra-violence, they threaten to overwhelm the town and destroy civilisation as Ronald McDonald knows it. All in all, the classic transatlantic fear of the 'other'.

You take the part of Billy, hero of the film, and must do your darnedest to save the town and neutralise the evil hordes. Gizmo the Mogwai - I presume he is a good form of gremlin - will assist you once you manage to find him.

The game operates on the standard verb noun format and has a fast and friendly interpreter. You may even get free hints if you labour too long over a particular task - helpful if you are not over-familiar with aspects of day-to-day reality in the US.

Finding myself in a kitchen fill of appliances I could not get any to work. After I had dithered for a while the computer suggested I 'press button'. Enlightenment came to me as I realised that the Peltzer remote control I had picked up ran the kitchen as well as TV. Have you heard of a Peltzer? I always thought they were dogs.

The pictures in Gremlins are not only pretty; they interact with the play and will show you the actions you have carried out if they affect your visible environment. Some are even partially animated. Once I had discovered the joys of the Peltzer I was soon watching a gremlin whizzing around in the blender.

Time is important to the play and you will have to flash around town to avoid roving gremlins. Leisurely exploration is not on - so, besides the need to solve problems you must always keep one eye open. That adds considerably to the excitement and urgency of your task and gives a feel of ever-present danger.

That combination makes for a classy and tense game, well made and full of action. Despite being repeatedly killed by Stripe's hooligans I enjoyed Gremlins a lot. My only criticism is that £9.95 is a high price to pay.

Publisher: Adventure International
Memory: 48K
Price: £9.95

***

3/5