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Melbourne House
1986
Adventure: Graphic
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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33
Gary Rook
Chris Bourne

Redhawk is the first adventure from Melbourne House since Lord of the Rings.

If you're looking for more of the same then you're in for a disappointment. Redhawk draws on elements from Mugsy to produce a kind of adventure cartoon strip. The action takes place in three 'boxes' across the screen with text appearing as 'bubbles' above each character.

You are Kevin Oliver, amnesiac and possessor of amazing powers. All you have to do is say the word 'Kwah!' and you become Redhawk, the superhero, dressed in a very natty little cape and with a head-dress reminiscent of Horus, the Hawk God of Ancient Egypt. Must have been bitten by a scarab...

Below the strip cartoon style graphics window is a text input area used for communication with the program, and two status indicators, one showing your current energy level, and the other your current popularity rating. There's also a little picture showing just who you are at the moment - useful when you have a case of split personality.

Below the text window, there's a line of 10 functions - these are command words which you can access just by hitting symbol shift and the right number - so symbol shift 3, 4 means you have input 'Say "Kwah"', which is the magic word to toggle from Kevin to Redhawk and vice versa.

Above the graphics window, there's just enough space for a line of text, which is one of the two ways the program communicates with you. If you've input something it doesn't understand, then it flashes up 'Redhawk is confused'. It can also give you further information about your status or the location you are in.

The other way the game talks to you is via speech bubbles which form themselves just above the characters' heads. Whatever you say to someone appears in one of these balloons, and what they say to you does likewise.

So much for the mechanics of the game. What's it like?

When the game begins, you find yourself standing outside a hospital. You remember nothing except the magic word. The first thing is to establish yourself as a respectable superhero, so the police will stop laughing at you when you turn up at the cop shop in your halloween costume. Then get a decent job - you know, like the one Clark Kent has? - so that you can barge in places where you're not usually welcome and can afford to take taxis around the city.

Begin by travelling south-east from the hospital. You'll find yourself in a shameful and smelly location. Somewhere here you'll find something that will make somebody hire you on the spot - it must be a sign. When he asks you what you want, be negative and snap at him.

From there, go to the wide open green spaces, and hang around looking for the sort of person who could easily help you meet the boys in blue. Get him to accompany you, and don't forget the mugshot.

When the city's finest have done congratulating you, they should give you something that crackles, and I don't mean rice crispies. Don't forget to do your job properly and your new employer will also give you something that crackles - only this time it's green and folds, and I don't mean lettuce.

Redhawk has all the Melbourne House hallmarks: the game style is highly original and the presentation is slick and its all cleverly programmed.

A game of the Sherlock class it certainly isn't, however. Seasoned adventurers will find the going quite easy.

But it is an excellent introductory adventure.

Next time, though, I'm putting on thermal underwear - these body-stockings may look fancy, but they're just a bit too cold around the pin feathers.

Gary Rook

Publisher: Melbourne House
Price: £8.95

****

4/5