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Delta 4 Software
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Richard Price
Chris Bourne

This month is not the Delta 4 Benefit Month and it is pure coincidence that another of its games has turned up in my in-tray.

Return of the Joystick: is the sequel to The Quest for the Holy Joystick. I have never seen the first game but I presume the aim is the same. Like Bored this adventure is written with the Quill and Illustrator and features the same quirky sense of humour.

The game begins outside Alexandra Palace where one of the many ZX Microfairs is about to open. You are a typical computer punter on the lookout for cheap games and equipment. Little do you know that your simple needs will lead you into the search for the Holy Joystick: which is secreted somewhere within the several reality layers of the game.

From the bus stop at Ally Pally you can wander around London and its suburbs. Various well known computing firms can be visited and, in the offices of a nameless publishing company, you will encounter T*ny Br*dge and other agents of darkness.

Large numbers of computer games can also be found there - such as Chublock and Sabre Wilf - and you can enter those games to find vital objects.

There's an element of satire and large numbers of gratuitous tricks - I stepped off the path at Ally Pally only to be devoured by a Bengal tiger and told: 'Gosh, that was unfair wasn't it? Another feeble attempt?'

Reality shifts between the ordinary world and the strange environments of the games. Occasionally you will step into a new location only to find yourself in the USSR or the mystic territory of Delta Tower.

Every entry counts as a minute in the game world and some things will only happen at particular times - if you're in the wrong place that's tough. Starting time is 9am and you must finish by 10pm. The game gives very little help and it is easy to waste time.

Return of the Joystick: is not as compulsive as Bored but it is equally well put together and does have the virtue of not being an orc-basher game. Some of the humour relies upon in-jokes and you may find that some of the characters are unknown to you - the world of computing companies and magazines may seem big to those in it but to outsiders it may not have the same appeal.

Publisher: Delta 4
Memory: 48K
Price: £4.95 (£6.95 Microdrive)