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Mike Young
Mike Young
1990
Adventure: Text
£2.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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63
Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

"See the pyramids across the Nile..." Ah, they don't write songs like that anymore. But enough of this reminiscing, here's a two-part text-only PAW'd adventure, though that versatile utility hasn't been employed to the full. The author's certainly used his imagination however, as he's set this game in ancient Egypt and filled it full of convincing background detail.

A bit more thought should have gone into the packaging, as there's nothing other than loading instructions, although the VOCAB command within the game gives you a list of verbs you might try. I'd have liked to know, for example, what the format of the TALK TO command was, and also whether there was a RAM SAVE feature. The various inputs I tried only produced a save-to-tape.

The game itself takes about 40 days and 40 nights to load, but when it does you find yourself staring at one of those hard-to-read olde worlde fonts. You also discover that you're floating on the River Nile in a basket, and you're a baby. Goo-goo. Oops, one intro screen later and you've grown up to become an Egyptian prince - trouble is you decide you're not cut out for the job. That reminds me of a joke but we'd better not repeat it here.

Into the game proper and you're standing on the river bank. Fine, I always fancied visiting Egypt, but what am I meant to be doing? Never mind, adventures are where you find it, so let's go look for some. First we find that the vocabulary's a bit limited. You've an ID card in your pocket (in ancient Egypt?), but you can't read it or examine it. You can't EXAMINE NOTICE BOARD or READ BOARD, you can only READ NOTICE BOARD, that kind of thing.

The Plagues Of Egypt is not the type of game in which you move two locations in any direction and come across a problem. You can wander around a great deal at the start, but eventually you should get back to your own room in the palace and discover just what the adventure's all about. And, lo and behold, you realise that you're not a true Egyptian at all, but "part of the Hebrew nation chosen by God to perform a special mission. You feel that you have some part in freeing them from their present hideous existence".

That existence is all around you, everywhere you look, and the author misses no opportunity to spell it out - "You are at the southern edge of the main Egyptian town of Memphis. There are many exciting shops here full of luxury items which most Egyptians can afford to buy as a result of profits made from the exploitation of the Hebrew people." If you get across the River Nile on the regular ferry service you see more exploitation, as the Hebrew slaves are badly mistreated while forced to build yet more Egyptian temples.

The atmosphere's good, you really feel you're there, and you also get quite involved in the plight of the downtrodden people. It's refreshing to find an adventure that attempts to deal with a real problem rather than just let you amass treasure or commit GBH on dragons.

The trouble is the adventure itself isn't very well designed. You spend far too long looking for something to do, and then when you do you have to trek back and forth across vast distances to try to sort things out. It's like finding a bronze key and consulting your map to discover that the bronze door is 837 locations away.

With a bit of play-testing by avid adventurers, this could have turned into a terrific little game. I wanted to like it more (honest), and it's still better than a bite on the bum from a plague of locusts, but basically a standard no-frills and few-thrills game.

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