Silversoft Ltd
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

When does a cult become a bandwagon? The cult was Bored of the Rings and when everyone was aboard it rolled its way up the charts as a bandwagon. The thing is now, does the bandwagon roll on with Robin of Sherlock or does it hit the rut of consumer resistance? Only time will tell, but have a read of this to see what Delta 4 have come up with this time.

Bored of the Rings plagiarised Tolkien much more than the Harvard Lampoon book of the same name, so it would be reasonable to assume that much of its success was due to the instant familiarity this association provided. Robin of Sherlock (surprise, surprise) borrows much from Robin of Sherwood by Adventure International, and Sherlock, the awe-inspiring program devised by Melbourne House. Hence the familiarity factor won't be as great, and this program will have to make it on the strength of being a follow up to a highly successful chart game.

Your quest is set into three parts. You can move freely from one part of the adventure to another along with anything you happen to be carrying. The program accepts long-winded entries such as LEAN OVER AND KISS MARION or the speedier KISS MARION (in other words the program only looks for the second example which makes you wonder what all this complex sentence input lark is all about). Dialogue with characters in the game begins with TALK TO followed by TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ALIBI etc. (this phrase is borrowed from Sherlock in case you hadn't twigged). A very useful feature is the RAM SAVE and RAM LOAD which saves your current status in memory and returns you to the position respectively. GRAPHICS ON and OFF completes the competent and impressive range of facilities on the program. (OK these are Patch features but they are still impressive).

Playing the game is much as you'd expect. The first game of the three has you wondering around a forest which in places looks remarkably similar to the one in Robin of Sherwood. Much amusement must be derived from the stock sounds of trains passing and phones ringing (it's for you hoof) as some of the humour is threadbare or esoteric (was that a joke or wasn't it...). I admit there is something inherently satisfying about cracking in jokes among a select gathering of like-minded friends but a commercial program must surely have a broader appeal. This is not to decry the effort expended in composing those jokes in the games which are genuinely amusing, as there are many such examples.

Humorous games are notoriously difficult to review. There's the problem of deciding just how universally funny the jokes are. Also, how much does the humour cover deficiencies in programming technique. What can be said of Robin of Sherlock is that it will appeal to that age group which can play adventures and comprehend zany humour. Judging by the success of Bored of the Rings there are many who both enjoy adventures and seek this kind of amusement.


Difficulty: about as difficult to get into as a Marillion LP
Graphics: nice
Presentation: well turned out
Input facility: a little beyond verb/noun
Response: fast
General Rating: I couldn't find John Cleese on my ballot paper.