David W. Harper
1985
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

147,148
Chris Bourne

This is Electric Dreams' first release (that's Electric Dreams as in Rod Cousens, not the other one) and features a brand new, up-and-coming star in the form of Trunkie the Manelephant. Trunkie has decided to set off on an expedition to find the legendary Great Golden God Gregogo. Who? Ah 'Tis he who is as yet unseen.

Riddler's Den forms the first part of Trunkie's quest and is an arcade adventure in which he searches the Riddler's Den for a Golden Tusk and the exit. Oh, and while he's wandering around the Den, Trunkie wants to collect and bank some treasure to fund his next jaunt.

Once found, the tusk has to be taken to the Final Room, which is in fact the room you start in! This isn't so easy since there are many nasty creatures blocking some of the entrances to parts of the den and thus further progress. A spider, gargoyle and three dragons are just some of the deadly denizens that need to be negotiated. So how do you pass them? By solving riddles and using objects correctly, that's how.

The chambers in the Den are shown from above while all characters are shown from the side similar to Sabre Wulf if you like. Scattered about the Den there are numerous weird objects that Trunkie can pick up and store in one of his four pockets. Some things can be USEd to good effect when placed in the fourth pocket, such as a pillow that allows you to rest and gain extra energy. Others should be dropped at the appropriate place and time to give the required result. To pick up an object you need to manoeuvre Trunkie up against it and press the key which controls an empty pocket. The object will be transferred to Trunkie's collection. Objects can only be USE'd if they are in Pocket 4 and sometimes an object in Pocket 4 can be used on or with an object in one of the other pockets.

Objects which Trunkie has picked up are displayed at the top of the screen, next to a counter which keeps track of how much of the quest you have solved. A flask indicates how much energy Trunkie has remaining, and a digital clock running in game time ticks off the hours . . . and you have a limited number of days in which to complete the tasks allotted.

Most of the chambers in theDen contain mobile nasties goblin like creatures which materialise shortly after Trunkie enters and dodge around the floorspace. Larger ogre creatures live in some rooms and contact with ogres or goblins saps Trunkie's energy some of them are quite intelligent and home in on you, while others manage to block your path very effectively.

If you spend too long in a room, a homing plant will turn up at the entrance Trunkie used and send out a spore, which bounces round in the room, sapping energy on contact. This is the Bloodhound Trap which gets very nasty if you are in a room with one of the three dragons that feature in the game.

Careful reading of the rhymes on the inlay will give some clues to the puzzles that have to be solved in the game, and a penchant for puns and lateral thinking will also come in handy. Some of the twists and turns in the game are cunning, others corny and all of the riddles in the game will no doubt seem obvious once they are solved.

CRITICISM

'You can't really say that this is a completely original game but there are some aspects of it that are quite strange. 'Pyjamarama-ites' will probably like this one as there are a lot of problems to be solved in a medium sized playing area. Graphically I would rate this game as above average. The characters are well animated and nicely drawn; sound is poorly used there are only a few spot effects here and there. Generally I enjoyed playing Riddlers Den but I couldn't see myself playing it next month.'

'There are a large number of arcade adventures available on the Spectrum, with even more being released each week. Riddler's Den isn't one of the most impressive of this genre to appear, but then it's not exactly one of the worst. It might have been a better game were it not for the fact that the riddles are a little too obscure at times. They're not in any great abundance either, but I suppose their complexity makes up for this. Other than the riddles there isn't much to keep one enthralled for long, there being little in the any of real action. I find it hard to become stimulated for any great length of time on the strength of solving a few, occasionally illogical, puzzles and I feel that something more is needed to make the game worthy of an honest recommendation.'

'Personally, I like the way that Electric Dreams have gone for the idea behind the game rather than revolutionary programming techniques with this one. The graphics are as good as in earlier Ultimate games and some of the puzzles reveal a great sense of humour - bereft in other companies' more recent attempts. Some people may dislike this apparent 'throwback' to the early days, but if they bother to give the game the benefit of the doubt and actually play it for a while, they could find themselves becoming addicted. Lots of lateral thinking puzzles to keep you busy on winter evenings!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Protek and cursor
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: bright and cheerful
Graphics: colourful, and tidily done
Sound: spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 49
General Rating: A puzzling game. Easy to get addicted to...

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