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1987
Adventure: Text
£14.95
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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80
Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

This is the one we've all been impatiently waiting for, the game that first appeared on the QL, then staggered everyone with stunning graphics in its Atari ST version. At last it's been squeezed (sadly minus the graphics) into a 128K Spectrum, though who needs graphics when you've got lovely text to read?

The package includes a novella to set the scene and also act as an anti-piracy device, the story being A Tale Of Kerovnia. This is the land where you find yourself one day, having originally set out just to do your supermarket shopping! A mysterious glance from a mysterious stranger, a sudden blow to the back of the neck and there you are waking up in a grassy clearing with nothing but a pair of jeans and a shirt ...and what's this? A silver wristband covering your forearm? That wasn't there before. The aim of the game is to escape from Kerovnia, and removing that mysterious wristband will no doubt have some part to play in this if you read the signs properly.

Apart from the lengthy text, The Pawn has gained its notoriety (and various 'Adventure-of-the-Year' awards) by its complexity, clever interaction between the player and other characters, and its sense of humour. There are many people you'll meet wandering round Kerovnia, such as Honest John (Kerovnia's Arthur Daley), King Erik, Kronos the Magician, an adventurer riding a horse and a guru who's highly amused by something about you. You should soon be able to stop him laughing, though, and when you do you'll be set one of the sub-quests that make up the adventure, which can be played in various ways. Mind you, the quest that Kronos sets you leads to all kinds of trouble, and you'd be advised to ask everyone about everyone to discover who can be trusted and who can't.

One complaint about the game is that some of the problems are devious above and beyond the call of adventuring, while others are blindingly simple, and some machine versions haven't been totally bugless either, though I've yet to encounter one in playing this conversion. Despite a few quibbles, this is the first adventure that'll give Speccy owners a hint of what it's like to play an Infocom game, so buy this.

Here are a few of the people you'll meet around Kerovnia

KRONOS THE MAGICIAN
He offers you a simple task to deliver a sealed note to King Erik of Kerovnia, but if the task's so simple and Kronos is a magician then why is he asking a lost adventurer like you to do it for him?

HONEST JOHN
Kerovnia's travelling salesman, who'll sell you iron rations, whiskey distilled by the Roobikyoub tribe of dwarfs, silver armour, spring water or even a bottle of Farthington's Real Ale.

THE GURU
He is shaven-headed, wears an orange robe and sits cross-legged on the floor of his but at the top of a hill. Unfortunately he can't stop laughing at your wristband!

THE ADVENTURER
He is described as a tall handsome man dressed in gleaming armour and fond of saying things like 'Go north' and 'Unlight lamp'.

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