DK'Tronics Ltd
1985
Strategy: Management
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

13,14
Chris Bourne

For many of you the all too brief appearance of Terry and Arthur once a week is simply not enough, perhaps DK'Tronics has the solution, now you can idle away the time waiting for the next programme playing this program. Minder is a trading game played in true Arthur Daley style, if you feel sure that you can double deal, short change and generally put one over your fellow humans then you should have few problems. As with any trading game the object is to buy and sell goods to make a profit. Of course the goods dealt with in Minder tend to register on the upper band of the temperature scale.

At the start of the game you have two thousand notes and a variety of goods, these will vary every time you start a game but 5 home computers at E47 (they must have been Commodore 16's) and 10 bags of mushroom compost at 6 quid a bag would be typical. You can take stock by selecting 'I' for inventory and you will also be reminded of any goods that you should deliver or collect. To sell goods you'll need some victims and Minder offers a choice of locations where they may be found, the prime one being the Winchester club. Travelling from one location to the next is simplicity itself, selecting 'G' offers a sub-menu with a choice of locations. You can go to your home, the 'lock-up'. Terry's flat, the Winchester club or any one of eight dealers. Arriving at a location, you will be confronted with a set of windows. If they are empty then no one's in, otherwise there will be pictures of the various characters present. To talk to a character, simply enter appropriate the frame number.

On entering the Winchester any hesitation in 'selecting a person to talk to will result in one of the many rogues attempting to force dubious merchandise on you. These people can be a real pain but you might be missing a good deal and being rude will only cause a scene. The picture of the person you are talking to appears alongside the input/output area and since each character always identifies himself the player soon learns the useful contacts and the not so.

The Winchester club is a less than ideal sales patch as the characters prefer drinking to doing business. When you want to unload some goods it is far better to pay a visit to one of the dealers at their own premises but there your problems begin. The dealers spend most of their time away from their places of business, so you can decide to wait or try another dealer. To play the game well you will have to and learn the various characters' lifestyles so you will know where to go when you want them.

The work really begins with selling. This is hard work! You can begin the banter with Phrases such as 'ARE YOU INTERESTED IN ... ' or 'I'VE GOT SOME ... ' The next stage is to fix the price you want the highest price, he wants the lowest with luck you may agree in the middle. You will find yourself bickering in the same way over the quantity of the order but after an agreement has been reached your customer will confirm the agreement and give you date by which he wants them delivered. You can sell goods that you haven 't got but if you fail to deliver them on time the buyer will be more difficult in the future. Delivering goods is a major part of the game, and having clinched the deal Terry will have to be found and asked to deliver them it helps to remember the customer's name so Terry knows where to go. After the delivery Terry deducts his cut and hands the balance over when you have found him again.

The Daley slog, then, consists of trips to and from dealers, chasing Terry and trying to find the best deals. The game lasts for 15 days (not real-time) and time-wasting must be avoided whenever possible. The game introduces a lot of complications, the most important being good old Sgt. Chisholme, a man constantly on the prowl. Dealers won't discuss business with him around and should he find his way to your 'lock-up ' then you could end up with some gear confiscated and wasted time in jail. Terry's role is not as important as in the series, although he does act as your minder. Unlike the TV series Terry does rather well, dictating fees which you just have to pay.

The accepted vocabulary helps re-create the series ' atmosphere with phrases like 'I'M ASKING A PONY' (a request for C25 rather than an attempt to converse with an equine quadruped). It's important to remember that the characters have memories, they will not forget you if you mess them about. Time is against you it's lost waiting for dealers, an hour goes on each journey, conversations also cost an hour, and just to make matters worse 'Her indoors' will not allow you to stay up later than 3pm so there ' s no chance of doing a 24hr stint to conclude a deal. The final score for the game is the amount of 'folding' that you hold, and on the fifteenth day unsold stock will not count as part of your profit, so get rid of it!.

CRITICISM

'Minder is a sod of trading simulation game not unlike the TV series. The game follows the same buying and selling routine with dodgy faces and skirmishes with the 'old bill'. A point that I would like to make is that if the game existed without the TV tie-in it would not really rank as anything special. Don't accuse me of being anti-TV variant as I'm great fan of 'Minder' and I think the game is a very good idea. It really could have been expanded upon to make it more interesting and variable but it's still amusing and challenging and it improves with play. All right my son I'

'I am a great fan of the TV series so I expected a great deal from this program. In some respects I was disappointed. I found it difficult to get on with. Finding characters is time consuming and annoying. At times I felt that I had little control over my role in the affair. Deals are very hard - upsetting the characters resulting in discussions being peremptorily concluded. Nor could I try and bluff a dealer; often both parties' prices would be very close but attempting to call the deal off in the hope that he would go for a slightly higher price rather than not at all, more often than not would result in the dealer saying, 'SHAME...' and trotting off. The police presence is rather heavy. Chisholme must be able to mind read because on the days he was about he was at every dealers' premises before I even arrived. One other point is that you cannot treat Terry as shabbily as the real Arthur does. To play, I find Minder as annoying as it is intriguing. On the plus side while the dealing may be fiddly it is also a lot of fun especially when you have learned where to find people and how to talk the language. The characters' presentation works well and throughout the game you can identify people by spotting their face in a window, rather like spotting a friend at a parry. There is a great deal to this game, a lot must be learnt about the 'Manor' and the characters within if you are to have a hope of making b crust. 'Hey guv, a tenner's a bit steep ain't it?'

COMMENTS
Control keys: respond to prompts
Joystick: N/A
Keyboard play: input a bit slow
Use of colour: not a great deal needed
Graphics: characters recognisable
Sound: good Minder tune
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 1
Screens: many different location
General Rating: An interesting and absorbing game.

75%
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65%
75%
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75%

Screenshot Text

A selection of tasy characters spend their day at the Winchester swapping drinks, jokes and goods.