Mastertronic doesn't publish adventures written with utilities, so I was eager to get Rigel's Revenge up and running. Sure enough, even the loading screen was pretty slick, with a designed look and a cleverly waxing and waning title. There's also a couple of pages of prose to set you off armed with the most recent news, some of which bears directly upon your first puzzles.
The story centres on two cop-sounding chaps, Harper and Elliot, who are in fact investigative journalists. But this is way in the future, the 22nd century to be exact, and their coverage of the Re-unification War must have been good stuff as it was carried by every major Federation comm-network. Their story told how the Fleet troops had brought the insurgent colonies back into the Federation's grip.
Success, however, has gone to Elliot's head, and he has persuaded Harper to join him as an agent for the Alterian Corps - not a Christmas food-hamper group, alas, but an influential bunch of dedicated peace-lovers. In return for Harper and Elliot's sterling work the Corps will guarantee scoop after scoop.
Their first mission is to go to Rigel V, where one region still holds out against the conquering Federation troops. The recalcitrant rebels claim to have a Doomsday Machine and will wreak the ultimate revenge if the Federation refuses to withdraw from the planet. Elliot has been smuggled into Rigel V by the Alterian Corps as a Rigellian trooper; his mission is to discover the whereabouts of the Doomsday Machine and report to Harper, who lands on Rigel V a week later. Harper's instructions are to meet Elliot at night in a back street in the occupied sector of town.
The game begins as Harper arrives on Rigel V, freshly alighted from the scoutship which now zooms off from above the darkened streets. With his light-intensifying goggles every detail is clear. All of a sudden an explosion from an adjacent alley tears the goggles from his face. He escapes serious injury but a low moan to the east emanates from his partner Elliot, who hasn't been so lucky...
Rigel's Revenge is a really interesting adventure with a sophisticated, yet still very friendly, vocabulary. The redesigned character set is most pleasing; the occasional pictures, with clues actually within them, are detailed and effective; and the scenes are atmospheric, with finely written pieces ('skeletal remains of the geodesic dome that once covered the town', 'huge shards of plastiglass towered overhead'). The slick feel and look are typified by the 'Anykey' at the bottom - short and to the point.
And though this game is no pushover, some parts being quite intricate (for instance, PULL BAR HARD is needed to do the trick when PULL BAR fails to achieve much after its first use), there's some humour, such as when you're examining the certificate early on: 'The Desert Scene Cert 18. British Bored of Censors. Signed Funny Squiggle.'
Incidentally, Smart Egg Software is best known for The Serf's Tail, which I haven 't come across yet (probably because it's not been released on the Spectrum).
DIFFICULTY: some very tricky bits
GRAPHICS: few, but good
PRESENTATION: smart, if a touch plain
INPUT FACILITY: basically verb/ noun, with some additions
RESPONSE: very fast
Slick presentation and involving gameplay in Mastertronic's Rigel's Revenge.