After a whole host of similar Tolkien-inspired, fantasy scenarios, Quest For The Poorly Snail is a refreshing, home-grown spoof of both the King Arthur myth (the title is a vague pun on Quest For The Holy Grail) and general adventure clichés.
The 'square' (his nickname as a Knight of the Square Table) hero's quest begins in the dark confines of a prison cell inside the evil Doctor ' s castle This is where you have been rotting for umpteen years till your friend, Snail, decided to help you escape. A note he's left in your cell reveals that he is sending his Ear Ro Plane (groan) to come and rescue you. But first you must poison the prison guard to get out.
Soon after leaving the cell you'll probably encounter a friendly dwarf, who insists on singing (shades of The Hobbit here) awful songs about the ZX81! An elephantman can also be found, although he doesn't like to be examined (well who would?).
Should you complete the first section of the adventure, data is saved to allow you access to the next section (there arc three in all). Scattered throughout the sections are relatively few pictures and surprisingly, considering the adventure was written using the PAW, not much use has been made of that utility's excellent presentation options - the fairly lengthy descriptions are written on an unchanging black background. Nevertheless the text is written well enough to make up for these superficial deficiencies.
Section two has yet more Sinclair jokes with Sir Clive showing off his new white steed - the C5! In fact, as the adventure progresses the jokes get even more zany, up to the point of the completely insane banana skin-inhabited hole. Although most of the problems encountered are pretty straightforward, there are exceptions. For example a major problem is caused by a large bird which carts the helpless adventurer off to its nest high above the ground. This situation can easily be overcome, using a rope, but after flying off the bird seems to return, with lethal effect, at a completely random time - sometimes so quickly that you cannot possibly escape.
However, once this problem is solved, there are few obstacles to successfully progressing to the third section, which is occupied by, among other things, a mad carrot. It was at this point that I wondered how the author, Matthew Wilson, could have typed in all these weird jokes while wearing a straitjacket!
Although several solutions are possible to each of the three sections, the problems are simple and the plot is still quite linear - take away the many jokes and not much remains. Even so, Quest For The Poorly Snail offers some whacky amusement for all but the most serious adventure fans- just try typing WAIT for a laugh.
You can obtain your copy of Quest For The Poorly Snail for the paltry price of [2.50, direct from Futuresoft at 75 Ben Rhydding Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 SRN. And if you should get stuck, just send an SAE to Matthew Wilson at the same address stating the nature of the problem and he'll provide hints, the complete solution, or even a map.