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Adventure: Graphic
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

Foresaking Arthurian England, Hewson has turned to high adventure heroics in the Amazon basin as Daphne Pemberton-Smythe leads an oddly assorted team, including her high-flying boyfriend Professor Kite, drunken reporter Legless O'Donnell and Frozbie the dog, in search of her missing father.

His last known location was the tomb of Xipe Totec and so the adventure begins, outside the portals of the ancient Sinu City, and almost immediately it's time to dodge a Headless Guardian, who's far from 'armless.

Pyracurse is very much in the Avalon style, seen from a high viewpoint over a smoothly scrolling two colour 3D landscape. It's by a new writing team made up of Mark Goodall and Keith Prosser who've devised some superb graphics for the tomb and the characters, who are in perfect proportion.

If anything it's more difficult than the Dark Age adventures because the city Is open plan and even with last month's map you'll have trouble sorting out where to go to unlock the doors between the levels and discover the terrible secret of the fate of Sir Pericles Pemberton-Smythe.

Goodall and Prosser have populated the ruins with a collection of monsters which would have Indiana Jones running for cover. From the topless mummies, who add a whole new meaning to losing your head. to the giant scorpions who home in on our heroes, there's a menace for every occasion. But none worse than the skulls, which are harmless until you bump into them when they follow, and unlike the other monsters, you can't out-run these gnashing death dealers with their flaming eyes.

If and when you get caught, which is very likely in the early stages, you'll need the help of one of the other characters to sprinkle your remains with a resurrection enzyme (I could with some of that. Ed). Make sure each character has a pot of this which will remain near his or her ashes on demise - you'll need the whole team to complete the adventure.

Actually you'll spend a lot of time switching from O'Donnell, who's useful when brute force is called for, to the Professor who, being a brainy sort, can solve the problem of unlocking secret doors. Don't neglect Daphne's eye for detail work though, or Frozbie's propensity for digging up useful objects!

Hewson has come up with another goodie, though one word of warning; the memory is so packed there's not enough room for a reset game option. The death of all the characters results in a reload but there is the possibility of saving your position so do it at frequent intervals, especially before attempting something dangerous.

It's a tricky game but there's really very little to curse about Pyracurse.


Screenshot Text

A tongue of fire! Must be O'Donnell's boozy breath. No, it's the prof's remaining life force.

A little pot always helps. One of these contains a key, the other some resurrection powder, but breaking them sets off the scorpion alert.

When it's time to 'flea', it's every man for himself, every woman for herself and dogs life for Frozbie, but at times of safety choose Lead to collar some followers.

The problem with professors is they stumble into the most unacademic situations - like being surrounded by scorpions and animated Aztecs.

If you can't read, here's a pictorial reminder of your current character. Fire brings up a scrolling menu in the central window.

By choosing inventory the hitting fire the hi-lighted object appears under your control and can be steered around while in cursor mode.

Getting in was easy - just a game of dodge the mummy - but when Legless broke the jar to free the key this psychotic skull appeared.

Here's a Sinu Yale key which Roger Kite, the right man for such brainy work, is waving around in front of a stone lock. 'Stone me,' exclaims O'Donnell.

Once the Prof has puzzled out that security system, the exit will slide into the ground and out they go.

An important change in this window as it indicates what your current chosen object is. Useful when you pick things up.