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Zodiac Software
1987
Adventure: Text
£4.50
£2.5
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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86
Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Andy Lowe and Dave Dutton of Zodiac Software have had more than just my delays to cope with. After sweating and slaving away to produce a three-part soap opera spoof adventure, they sent it away to Delta 4 only to have Fergus McNeill tell them that while he liked it and thought it was very much in the Delta 4 style, they couldn't publish it as Delta 4 was itself sweating and slaving away on the adventure we now know will be published as Beastenders. Undeterred, the Zodiacs produced the two-part Scary Mansion, but more of that in a mo'.

Their Soap Land parodies not only EastEnders but Coronation Street, Crossroads and even Dallas. Obviously to get the most out of the game's humour it helps if you're a soap addict yourself, but there's still a lot to enjoy in this lengthy graphics game even if you're not.

You play the part of Sergeant Roy Slow, and your brief from your bosses is simply to patrol Soap Land, righting wrongs, fighting crime and generally doing good. When you've earned yourself 200 points, you report back to headquarters to get your reward.

In the Queen Liz you encounter Filthy Len and Mangie, not to mention Methyl the charlady, and I think it's best not to mention her. Plenty of talking to the characters, including Dr Legless, and even a bit of mud-wrestling thrown in for good measure. This is bound to date quickly, with references to the now dead Albion Market and the thankfully soon-to-be-dead Crossroads, but it's still a very well-written game. Highly recommended.

As indeed is Scary Mansion, which shows that there's plenty more where the first one came from, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Zodiac's stuff taken up by one of the major software houses. Even the loading instructions made me laugh, which has to be some kind of first. The game itself made me laugh even more. You play Curtis Rogers, ace English detective and gentleman, aided (if that's the word) by Doctor Flotsam and housekeeper Mrs Stebson.

Plenty of in-jokes at the expense of Sherlock, f'rinstance, you go outside to find yourself in Quaker Street, described as a very strange street with no exits! Just a handsome cabbie in a handsome cab, and Inspector Retard's company car. Collect your tickets for beatherhead, where doubtless dirty deeds have been done, and don't forget to examine the hall mirror on the way. In fact examine everything, as the programmers have gone to a great deal of trouble to hide both information and jokes all over the place! Two very bright and funny adventure writers here, in Andy Lowe and Dave Dutton, and we'll be hearing more of them, I'm sure.

Unrated