Melbourne House
John Jones-Steele
1985
Adventure: Text
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

92,93
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

The cassette inlay proclaims 'The Classic Adventure continues'. And so it does, as not only is this offering from the same author as Melbourne House's Classic Adventure (based almost entirely on the famous mainframe program) but it marks a return to traditional values in adventuring - puzzles galore, text compression to ensure a worthy length and the complete absence of pictures that might otherwise use up precious memory.

You wouldn't need a marketing executive to tell you that the best way to spruce up a text adventure is to redesign the character set and that's what we have here. Further, 40 characters a line, justified for a square, neat look, and a dash of attractive colouring convince the player someone has taken the time to get the appearance just right. As for the substance, here again, there is much to admire. The location descriptions are long, detailed and well-written. The plot is entertaining and each part of the story is interesting and imaginative. Offering six lives to save the player starting all over again each time a life is lost is a super idea.

Your quest is awe inspiring enough, to save the universe, and this is achieved by recovering the lost components of an immortality machine. The machine's owner is Mordon, the Ancient One, who appears before you early on, shrouded in light. Finding Mordon while you play is not so easy and needs a little wandering before he finally reveals himself. The exit from the curiously familiar house in which you find yourself leads into a mist-filled jungle where you encounter quicksand and many other sticky situations. You finally stumble into the ruins of an ancient city which conceals many old relics beneath its dust, such as pieces of machinery and old coins. These spare parts and treasures are very significant as your SCORE is comprised of these alongside the number of turns taken so far. On through caves, tunnels and jungles and seemingly thousands of years pass with each step as you are transported into a fantastic future world of perspex domes, flashing lights and ambient music.

The nuts and bolts of this adventure are on the whole encouraging, with the text compression allowing long narratives - the speech of Mordon lasts two full pages. Take this first location description for example. 'You are in the master bedroom, despite the richness of the bed and the oriental carpet underfoot, the room is sparsely decorated. An indefinable atmosphere permeates the room, as if some great tragedy once occurred here. Tall sash windows face north and west. Large double doors open to the south'.

However, some aspects are unusual or perhaps even disappointing. I have previously stated an opinion on non-standard vocabulary so no two guesses for what I think about a game which chooses to use WHERE for LOOK when trying to redescribe a location or to see the result of some action, like switching on a torch. The EXAMINE command does not prove as useful as it might, and what is more, it is not error checked so EXAMINE X)0( and EXAMINE TRANSPORTER both throw up 'You can see nothing special'. Most problems are logical but the first, which leads to the apparition of Mordon, is illogical and arbitrary.

There are many humorous interludes to your deadly serious quest of saving the known universe. I'll leave it to you to discover the consequences of EXAMINE ASHES or KILLing the carnivorous PLANT. More fun can be had in the cannibal's hut while you desperately try to find a way out.

Mordon's Quest is a traditional adventure and is in many ways an updated supplement to Classic Adventure from the same author. Due to extensive text compression the game is -long - over 150 locations with a vocabulary of over 400 words. After playing many much more fanciful efforts this summer I very much enjoyed this game as it has long, atmospheric descriptions and the puzzles have been ingeniously interwoven into a fascinating fabric of clues and apparent dead ends. If you enjoyed Classic Adventure you'll like this one.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: moderate
Graphics: none
Presentation: reasonably neat and readable, uses 40 characters per row
Input facility: accepts sentences
Response: very fast
General Rating: Very good; a long, atmosphereic game.

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