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1987
Adventure: Text
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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50
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Many centuries ago when the Earth was still evolving, a plague known as 'adventure game blurb' fell upon the land. Every month new adventures would appear with ever more awful and tedious plots. Shard of Inovar has the lot.

An Elfin race called Eharin from the realm of Mantierion made the Inovar which is an elfstone which could defend the world from the plague called Nagroma.

You play Varwield Secunda and you've got to get the Shard which is in bits and there are people called Sunguat. Kiron and Rimarlion and..., listen I can't take any more of this stuff where people make silly pixie names up. (GT's instant pixie name creator - take the names of two household cleansing products eg Ajax and Vim, mix them together and what do you get - Vijax, thirteenth dark lord of the inner circle of chaos. So enough of all this sillyness. Let's have heros called Chris and Maureen.)

Anyway all that stuff was pretty irrelevant because the actual game Shard of Inovar is really good. Some of its ideas are genuinely original and some of the puzzles are quite inventive. Not only that but it's on budget too.

Shard of Inovar is an icon-driven adventure. Most of the previous icon-driven efforts have been pretty unsuccessful. Choosing whether and what to Take, Drop, Examine or whatever by whizzing around the screen highlighting icons representing the command takes at least as long as typing Get Frog, or whatever.

The clever stuff in Shard works like this. You move around the usual grim magical landscape using icon commands but when you come across something interesting eg The evil tower of Domjax (Domestos and Ajax) and the text screen says 'Ahead rises the evil Tower of Domjax' - you choose the Examine icon, another text window says 'Examine the ..', then you highlight the word from the descriptive text using a cursor and check out the tower. Since it is almost always the descriptive text for a location that tells you that there might be something to investigate this is an obvious but very effective idea. Can't think why nobody thought of it before.

There are graphics for most locations but they occupy less than a quarter of the screen and are little more than decoration.

Rated purely in terms of difficulty of puzzles and inventiveness. Shard of Inovar also scores highly. From the start location it takes only about three paces in any of the available compass directions before you're in deep trouble. And some of it is not only deep but squishy too!

I hated the blurb, the plot is utterly tedious, but Shard of Inovar has some good puzzles and some genuinely original command input ideas. On budget it's definitely a goodie.

Label: Bulldog
Author: Clive Wilson, Les Hogarth
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Budget adventure with lot's of good points including tricky puzzles and an inventive icon command system.

8/10

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PROGRAMMERS

CLIVE WILSON and LE HOGARTH are the team responsible for Shard Of Inovar. They have worked together creating adventures for Mastertronic since 1985.

SOFTOGRAPHY: Se-Kaa of Assiah (Mastertronic, 1985), Zzzz (Mastertronic, 1986), Kobyash Naru (Mastertronic, 1987)