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

98,100
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

If I remember rightly, Gremlins was a box office smash sometime around Christmas, and chose to bring to life on film the little devils who get into the works of TV Newsrooms to give us all a laugh. I never thought I'd be sitting here (I always sit on the same seat when I write the column I call it the woolsack) wishing I had seen some hyped up piece of celluloid, but it would certainly have helped me get into what makes these Gremlins tick.

Perhaps I'm getting old but I was surprised at having to kill Gremlins in this game I thought they looked rather cute on the film trailers. Well, enough of the sweatshirts and car-stickers and on to this here adventure, and, all I can say really is it's just what you'd expect a Brian Howarth conversion which features some of the best graphics seen on a microcomputer, and the emptiness of a hollow beans tin when it comes to character interaction, supporting literature or innovative features. That said, I quite enjoyed playing it as the graphics provide compensation in full.

Further, it is easy to play, if a touch unfriendly in which words it will or will not accept. To sum up, if you are not an adventure virtuoso, more an occasional dabbler, this game may well prove a worthy digression from the apoplexy of arcade.

Here is the storyline, which will probably only make sense if you have seen the film.

Kingston Falls is in danger of being overrun with Gremlins. Billy has been tricked by Gizmo's offspring into feeding them after midnight. As with most things which might cause a mishap there are rules concerning how best to handle Gremlins. Keep them out of light, don't get them wet and never ever feed them after midnight (if any parent of budding programming talent is looking in on the column I would also proffer this advice, especially the last which, when not strictly adhered to, provides the ritual of washing up before breakfast). Nocturnal meals are not advised as the Mo9wai pupate and turn into the evil Gremlins, and led by Stripe, the evillest of them all, cause chaos all over town. Taking the part of Billy, you take on the most perilous of missions. Aided by Gizmo you endeavour to save Kingston Falls from being overrun by Gremlins.

If you don't want to know the solution to this adventure, then look away from the next two paragraphs. No really, only joking (mostly!). The first few frames (must switch this snooker off) in this adventure have you pitched against the cuddly meanies who have just popped out from their pods. In the very first frame a Gremlin is standing in the doorway hurling darts at you. This is the first of quite a number of two-stage animations (ie the meanie swings his darts arm to and fro) which liven up graphics that are so good they hardly need any livening up. Herein lies this game's strength as a piece of entertainment; if you are in to superlative graphics then you must check out this one, the pictures are truly state of the art. Stunning, no less.

You'll kick yourself on finding the solution when you lose two or three lives in the first location. Descent to the living room and another Gremlin bars your progress. Commendably your salvation lies in the graphic. Clues within pictures are not radically new, but when they are displayed with such clarity it must be worth a mention. A niggle you will soon notice is the way in which the text scrolls. On occasions you look up to find the first letter of your input lost as it was taken as the prompt to complete the scroll. Leaving the house and travelling the streets you see the skill of the computer artist extends to street vistas as well as house interiors.

Finding the garage you will have great difficulty starting the snowplough as I myself struggled for some time to no avail. If Fm not supposed to drive it away, then surely the door should be locked or the starter key missing. Simply not understanding ENTER PLOUGH etc just doesn't seem good enough. Now I've mentioned vocabulary, why doesn't the program understand PULL, HIT or even HELP when these words are listed under 'some helpful words'? I could supply many more examples of both weak, linear plot and poor vocabulary but suffice to say that a high price in computer memory has been paid in order to serve up the definitive graphics. The main problem is the limitation imposed by there being only one set path toward the final solution. With little effort expended diversifying responses to attempted problem solving or to EXAMINE Although I haven't mentioned this kind of thing for some time the BBC and Electron versions do not feature graphics, while the Spectrum holds its own with the likes of the C64 and the newest big boy, the Amstrad.

Gremlins is a highly entertaining game with some of the best graphics you will see on a microcomputer. The plot hasn't got all the permutations it might, but what can you expect with such brilliant graphics stored in memory to flash on the screen in an instant. Don't be put off by the mark which must compare this adventure to all others, some of which have intricate plots and lengthy character interaction this game is one of the best from Adventure International. It is such a jolly piece of software that if you don't normally play adventures you could do a lot worse than checking it out, the graphics will impress if nothing else. Overall I really rather enjoyed it and found the theme interesting, so much so, I think I might look up the film next time it comes round (though I draw the line at buying the tee-shirt).

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: moderate
Graphics: on most locations and very good with some semi-animated Gremlins
Input: full sentences
Response: instantaneous
General Rating: Excellent graphics, but lacks intelligent responses.

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