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Turtle Software
P.W. Rogers
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Rosetta McLeod
Chris Bourne

This Quilled adventure for children is based on the Jack and the Beanstalk story. At the start the player is told: 'You have been, an idle. lazy boy and your mother was very reluctant to entrust you with so important a task'. The task is to sell off the family cow, which you have to do before you can progress in the adventure. The game is purely textual, and some of the location descriptions are guile lengthy and atmospheric:

'You are inside a dimly lit rent filled with curious bottles and tics. Suddenly there is a bright flash and a very tall, thin man appears from out of nowhere He bows low and then proceeds to examine your cow most carefully. After a few seconds he spins round declaring that it is the finest he has ever seen. 'I must have it!' he cries, 'No matter what the cost.' With a wave of his hand he produces a handful of lustrous glowing pearls worth, he tells you, a king's ransom. He offers there to you in exchange for your cow.

Will you accept his offer?

Occasionally, however, these descriptions scroll up rather quickly before you have had lime to read and absorb all the information (a press ENTER to continue feature would have been useful) although you can press R to have the location redescribed. Jack faces some interesting problems on his travels, and meets or confronts a varied selection of monsters and giants.

Although the age group is specified as 6-12, both Colin and I felt the game would be too easy for many 12 year olds, and that the content would probably not be sophisticated enough for children older than about 9 years Jack in Magicland has a number of features which make is particularly useful for young children: on occasion certain words on the screen are highlighted as a guide to the course of action the player should take; the notes also include the solution to the game which is invaluable for parents and teachers I wish more publishers of educational adventures were prepared to take this step.

In the absence of screen graphics, an attractive booklet of black and white illustrations by Erica Leonard comes with the game, and children might enjoy colouring them in. It is also possible to obtain a free map of Magicland from Turtle.

I can see that this program would have enormous potential in primary schools, and a few ideas for related activities are included In the notes. To sum up, this is one of the best adventures for young children that I have come across. The author, being a teacher himself, obviously realises exactly how adventures like this can be used in the classroom to spark off all kinds of learning activities.


Control Keys: directions can be shortened to N S E W U D, otherwise normal subject-verb input
Keyboard Play: good
Graphics: none on-screen, but there is an accompanying booklet of illustrations
General Rating: Excellent.

Not Rated