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St. Bride's School
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

The Snow Queen is based upon the work of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish chap who lived between 1805 and 1875 and was quite something when it came to spinning a yarn or two. (If that's not a popularist introduction, I don't know what is). His other works which became famous are the Tin Soldier and Ugly Duckling. Software has pilfered the ideas of comics, TV, films and books in the past but this attempt to bring the flavour of the book to the computer program has worked quite well much as Tangled Tale from Pocket Money Software reviewed last month was true to the flavour of Lewis Carrol.

In the Snow Queen your job is to help Gerda through her long journey and many adventures to find her lost friend Kay, ensconced within the palace of the queen. We are told of how Gerda, a little Danish girl, can only comprehend simple English like GO EAST and LOOK UNDER THE CHAIR. The game follows the story very closely so it's a good idea to have the relevant part of the story (chapter III) close by while you play. There are also many events which are an addition to the story, little things which happened to Gerda which were never written down.

There are quite a number of things about this game which are truly pleasing to a weary adventure reviewer. First, there's its friendly vocabulary. If you are new to adventuring (and if you are a column regular you'll notice I've been putting the odd explanation in for just this sort recently) then 'friendly vocabulary' refers to the fact that one can expect to approach this game with a keen sense of fun rather than trepidation as much more often than not the program will understand the first thing you input (even if, for reasons of plot or logistics, it cannot carry out your request). In a friendly game you are often told why you can't do something or that you are attempting some action too soon, before acquiring the necessary tools for the job. The adventures I like best are those which have a fresh reply to anything you might like to input.

Secondly, the useful EXAMINE command, as is often the case in a friendly game, adds much to your feeling of genuine exploration. Thirdly, the location descriptions are never terse or abrupt and are always well written and mostly informative. Take this one for example:- "I am in a town street. Our house is north, the street runs east/west. Across the road, to the south, is a narrow alley. The town is just coming to life. The bakers are at work, the cocks are crowing and a few early risers are opening the shutters at their windows. The aroma of fresh-baked bread wafts on the breeze. Can you advise me?" Descriptions such as these add immensely to the atmosphere of adventuring.

One further feature which I especially liked is the odd occasion when the program has been so constructed as to deliberately build up suspense. For example, when you tackle the rough girls on the bridge just south of the town, and it looks like the only way to pass them is to offer them something, the program holds you in suspense as it comes out with "Oh, but it is the only thing I have to remind me of Mama". What then seems like a long time, but of course really isn't, passes before "But you are right. It must be done. The girls have snatched the gift and run away to town" comes up onto the screen to tell you that what you chose to do was indeed right.

The Snow Queen is the follow up to the St. Bride's school romp reviewed in the October Trail. It is a text-only Quilled game which makes very good use of the Gilsoft programming utility. It is atmospheric and consistent and I really quite enjoyed playing it.


Difficulty: easy as it mostly follows book by H C Andersen
Graphics: none
Presentation: pleasant
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: instant
General Rating: Most interesting.