I know what you're thinking: how does Mike manage to review his own game without giving it at least twelve out of ten in every category? Well it's something I've been worrying about too! I obviously couldn't do it myself, and even if I asked someone else to do it, then it wouldn't be easy for them, knowing I'd be reading the review before it was printed. So bugger it, I thought, when a hairy little Balrog offered to do the review for me - I've got to print something. I've not let him give it any marks (in case the suspicious amongst you should suspect him of bias) but other than that, over to you, hairy little Balrog...
With his feet firmly planted on the kitchen table and a steaming mug of coffee in his hand, Balrog was attempting to remove a large wad of bluish-grey fluff from the depths of his bellybutton with the aid of the bread-knife. The rattle of the letter-box shattered the early morning silence, startling the Balrog, causing him to swing the knife downwards. Luckily for him it caught the safety-pin that was holding his flies together and glanced off to one side.
"Whoops," he cried, "that was a close escape. Mrs Balrog would never have forgiven me if I'd spilt blood on the carpet."
Shuffling towards the open door, he went to see what great joys awaited him on the mat beneath the letterbox. He noticed a large pile of assorted envelopes, and right in the middle was a small jiffy bag.
Deftly tearing open the package, the Balrog was surprised to see that it was a copy of One of Our Wombats is Missing, a game often talked about in quiet whispers and hushed tones, but never before seen in real life. "Hey, this is the game that old Ekim has been blabbing about in the pages of Your Unfair for the past decade or so! He must have finally finished writing it." With that, the Balrog shuffled upstairs to try out the tape.
As the tape-deck whirred and Balrog's battered telly flashed and hissed (much as the Balrog himself used to do in the olddays), he sat and read the leaflet that came with the game:
"You play the part of a young apprentice zoo-keeper, who is sent out one day to ensure that all the animals have been safely locked up in their cages, and that all the visitors have gone home. However, to the young apprentice's surprise one of the cage doors is ajar and the cage totally empty. Your task is to discover what's missing and, if possible, return it to the cage."
"Sounds a simple enough task to me," grunted Balrog, switching off the tape-deck and adjusting his underpants into a position more comfortable for a lengthy spell of adventure-playing. "Now which animal is missing," the Balrog wondered, quite oblivious to the subtle clue in the title of the game.
For the next hour or so silence reigned in the Balrog abode, with only the odd cry of "Where is that bleedin' wombat?!" or "Well, which key does unlock that soddin' door then?" as he attempted to probe the inner workings of the game. He spent ages chasing a small cockroach, and met a very talkative bird, referred to as a 'manic mynah'. ("Hmm," thought the Balrog, "Old Ekim must be even older than he looks. Some of his jokes certainly are!")
Despite having come across a multitude of locked doors and red herrings, Balrog was thoroughly engrossed in the game. It wasn't until he heard the cry of "You lazy old sod! What have you been doing all day?" that he realised just what time it was, and he slowly trundled downstairs to be met by an irate Mrs Balrog.
"Damn good job there's a SAVE routine in that game," he thought. "I can get back to playing it when the old battleaxe goes out to her W.I. meeting tonight. After all, it's a great little game and well worth playing through to the end. It's not too big but still hard enough and different enough to refresh those parts that the others don't always reach. Mmm, that reminds me of something but I can't quite think what."
Balrogian Rating: "More enjoyable than a green cheese sandwich."
Hmm. A bit suspicious that 'what looks to be from this side' bit, isn't it? What could it really be? A large stone wall? A sleeping dragon? (Who can tell?)