"As he struggled to raise himself, a searing shaft of pain stabbed through his skull and set a deep throbbing thrumming in his temples. He was blinded by an angry vivid light though his eyes were closed, lids weighed down by a weariness that reached from the depths of his tortured body."
No, that's not your reviewer after two bottles of Armenian Beaujolais, but the opening words to the 43-page novella that accompanies this three-tape repackaging by Rainbird of the Level 9 Middle Earth trilogy of adventures: Colossal Adventure, Adventure Quest and Dungeon Adventure. Is there anyone out there who doesn't know that these hallowed text-only games are being given a new lease of life with added graphics, enhanced text and Level 9's latest wonder-system?
Is it worth the effort? Well if you haven't got any of the titles in your collection then this handsome packaging ensures you're getting a bargain at only a fiver per brilliant and devious adventure. Even if you already have them, it'll be hard to resist the shiny blue box and tempting art-work - the only people likely to show no interest are the clever-clogs that've solved all three already.
Our old friend, the Lenslok falls out of the box when you open it, but don't give in to the temptation to crunch it underfoot as you'll need it part-way through each adventure and also each time you RESTORE. Other familiar features are the mix of versions on each tape, with 48K graphics or extended text options, while 128K owners get graphics and extended text, though the text didn't seem to have been expanded that much in the locations I looked at. Who needs it, though, as these are already brimming over with that lengthy purple prose.
Unfortunately they're also brimming with Level 9's love of purple graphics, and you might, like me, prefer to imagine rather than see places like the Hall of Mists. No OOPS or RAMSAVE in 48K versions, which is a shame, and I do delight in finding little faults in Level 9's alleged Infocom-busting parser: 'A huge clam is anchored firmly to the floor.' GET CLAM. 'You can't see it.' If you type the command CLIMB UP you get a double-response, such as 'You must be joking!' 'You must be joking!' And after being killed and asked if I wished to be resurrected I typed RAMSAVE (I like being awkward), which produced the 'What now' prompt. LOOK, I typed, to be told 'You are "this is your referee speaking. If you continue east, you will leave the game. OK?'"
Despite little niggles, and I'm a great nit-picker, this is still a lovely package of three excellent and very extensive adventures, with Dungeon Adventure featuring in many people's list of all-time toughies. Never mind the storylines, just get on with bringing back treasures and vanquishing evil. A must for most Christmas lists.