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Silversoft Ltd
1985
Adventure: Text
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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75,76
Richard Price
Chris Bourne

Well, here it is... the next delightfully demented offering from the fervid and fertile imaginings of Fergus McNeill and Co, only begetters of the already justly infamous Bored of the Rings.

First take Sherlock Holmes, dress him in Lincoln green and plonk him down in Sherwood forest with a cordless phone, a plastic bow and a long dark sword called Albino. Then take liberal helpings of stubble-chinned transvestite nuns, mafiosi Smurphs, Merry Men, the Three Bears in a hanging mood, the Wizard of Oz and assorted cabbies and villains... not forgetting Hurn the Hunter whose major interest is collecting sheds and stuff to go in them. Now throw in a lot of trees, a railway station and a few public conveniences, a Kentucky Fried Squirrel franchise and the odd mystical hill and Druids' Circle. Et voila! You now have a rough idea of the recipe for Robin of Sherlock, the latest Quilled adventure from Delta Four.

The game uses the full resources of Gilsoft's adventure system and features newer, faster, split-screen graphics for a large number of locations, sound effects... the damn phone keeps ringing, either with wrong numbers or Lestrade's mother hurling abuse... and the useful RAMsave and RAMload to store a position without using the tape recorder. Input and response are fast and friendly with a wealth of zany detail.

What's it all about? it's hard to find a place to start! Being a medieval freedom-fighting detective is a tough number. There are numerous crimes to solve... who killed dead Watson, who kidnapped Toto from the venomous brat Dorothy, why are the nuns running some heavy racket involving recycled Smurphs sold as garden gnomes, and who nicked the cabbies' hansom?

Then again what does the Godfather Smurph do behind his protective screen of minders, and why does Hurn rip off people's gear and store it in vast garden sheds scattered around Sherwood? Phew, and that's only a starter. Oh, and who put the laxative in the Three Bears' porridge? That's quite an easy one really because you arrive at their cottage to find them putting up a gallows to lynch Goldilox.

The characters can be interrogated and will all have some crummy alibi or excuse for their actions. The descriptions are funny - hilarious at times - and the examine command produces a vast amount of daft detail. As in Bored you can carry enormous quantities of objects, most of them utterly improbable but useful at some point. If you remember to collect the Kentucky Fried Squrrel barf-bag hat from the restaurant in part one you may find it very useful when trying to enter Nottingham Castle. But what can I do with the electric carving knife and can I use the 'mystic, ancient and out of order coffee machine set into a great sausage shaped obelisk' inside the stone circle?

The game is in three parts, each continuing the map of Sherwood and its surroundings. That means more than 200 locations to explore and vast swathes of text to enjoy. Robin of Sherlock seems much more detailed than Bored and really benefits from the recent improvements to the Quill system. There is always something to explore, plenty of crazed action - watch portly Friar Gorbachetnik explode after his 31st venisonburger - and the game is thoroughly playable and engaging.

I am utterly unashamed about awarding this game a Classic rating. It is knockabout, loopy farce of the best kind with a pace and zip about it that leaves 90 per cent of other games miles behind. Absolutely smashing!

Publisher: Silversoft
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K

*****

5/5