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1986
Compilation
£14.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

Other Links


90
Gary Rook
Chris Bourne

It's easy to forget that there may be new adventurers out there, who may actually not have heard of Level 9 yet.

So, for the benefit of the uninitiated, a brief aside. Level 9 is the best British adventure house around. The company, run by the Austin family from a decaying mansion outside Weston-super-Mare, has a reputation second to none (except, perhaps, Infocom - and they're American and don't do a lot for the Spectrum).

A long time ago - two or three years, at least - Level 9 put out an adventure called Snowball, which was the first in a series of three games known as the Silicon Dreams trilogy. It was followed by Return To Eden and The Worm in Paradise. All three are excellent adventures, the sort of programming and plot writing that lesser houses can only dream of.

And now, for your delectation and entertainment (plus bafflement), the boys from BT, Rainbird, have brought out all three titles together in one box at the reasonably paltry sum of £14.95.

I'm not going to waste too much time on the plots of any of the games, but here's a very brief rundown.

In Snowball, you are secret agent Kim Kimberley (and yes, Level 9 chose the name deliberately because it can be male or female) and have to save the colonisation starship Snowball from being destroyed by the machinations of the evil traitor...

In Return to Eden, you have saved the Snowball but unfortunately the colonists on the spaceship have (wrongly) decided that you are the traitor. You have escaped to the new world, Eden, at present occupied only by ferocious native flora and fauna, and the robot pioneers sent on ahead to prepare the world for human occupation.

In The Worm in Paradise, you play a citizen of Enoch, Eden's first city. It's a Utopia, with full employment and no crime. It's also very boring, and you might like to liven the place up a bit.

The sort of problems you face in all three adventures are often pretty devious. In Snowball, for example, you have to work out the series of a range of colours - what order do they go in? A little bit of resistance might help you work out the panel puzzle before the Nightingale comes to take you away.

The parser for all three programs is superb, as usual with Level 9 games, and the program will understand and respond to a wide variety of inputs. There are some small problems: right at the start of Snowball, if you try to leave the first location by the trapdoor, you are told that you'll have to stand on something to reach it. Try to stand on something, and you're told - again - that you'll have to stand on something to reach the trapdoor.

The text compression is probably to blame for this and similar strange responses but they're minor problems only. Considering the amount of data Level 9 has managed to pack into a single Load, it's nothing to carp about.

Graphics also add considerably to the game (Snowball didn't have them when I first played it, oh so long ago) and are quickly drawn and atmospheric.

The whole Silicon Dreams game set is an unqualified success for Level 9 and Rainbird. Very definitely worth £14.95 of anybody's money and at only £5 per program it's a real bargain.

Label: Rainbird
Author: Level 9
Price: £14.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Gary Rook

*****

A 24-carat classic. Great puzzles, neat graphics with three of Level 9's best together for the first time.

5/5