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Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle is adventure 13 by Scott Adams, marketed by Adventure International. It follows in the footsteps of The Hulk featuring superlative graphics at every scene.

Solon the Master Wizard and owner of the Secret Coat long ago lost the 13 stars of Power. The evil Vileroth, believing the stars to be the only source of Solon's power, acquired these magical prizes when in fact it was the cloak that controlled the stars. Unable to master the magical stars, Vileroth's strength slipped away leaving him with no option but to conceal the Stars of Power within Claymorgue Castle so no one else could possess them. You are Beanwick, Solon's faithful young apprentice, and your task is to retrieve the 13 stars armed with a few spells and with a few more to be found in the castle, but the problem is, how do you use them?

The first location is a super graphic showing fine detail of the turrets and battlements comprising a compact, but nonetheless imposing, fortress. If I were to describe a picture of a moat, surrounding a castle with a drawbridge, being a highly skilled and cynical explorer, you will immediately imagine a tidy graphic of a drawbridge which is, of course, raised. If you should ever meet an adventure where a drawbridge is not raised, knowing the deviousness of many adventure authors, I would tread warily. This first problem is tackled, like so many in the adventure, by making use of the magic bestowed upon you from the start or to be found in the various nooks and crannies along the way.

Getting the drawbridge down (the noun needs the first five letters DRAWS), you look up to see it down in the picture - a nice touch. Moving east onto the drawbridge you are met with a curious sight where you are contemplating your feet upon the bridge overlooking the moat, but it would be wise to resist the temptation to take the plunge as it may just harbour one of those nasty sleeping moat monsters. On the east side of the drawbridge you see a lever set in the western wall and you'd need to be half-baked or inappropriately impulsive to fail to appreciate the consequences of pulling it. Better to move further east into the interior of the castle and a courtyard with a highly decorative fountain set at its middle. Enter the magic fountain now and it could signal your first meeting with the horrific and very graphic depiction of a sneering skull which makes you shudder the first time you see it. If instead you content yourself for the time being with collecting the goodies here, you'll notice that the program follows what is fast becoming a trend. The fact that you have gained an object is not acknowledged as such. The only indication that you have indeed picked up an object is that object's removal from the list of visible items, this coupled with the knowledge that had you failed to pick up an object a report would draw your attention to your lack of success.

By this stage you will have already worked out the use of one spell (at the drawbridge), now let's look at another two. Well, Lycanthorpe in psychiatry as a person who loves that he as a wolf, so what use the Lycanthorpe spell is I'll leave you to decide. As for the Yoho spell it sounds like yoyo and yoyos spring back to your hand when spun. Indeed, the Yoho spell takes you back to the first location; unfortunately, if you were dying on using it, you'll still die at or near the first scene. Also, surprisingly, you are told the Yoho spell works on the second occasion of its use, but on the second attempt nothing seems to happen.

Further east you meet one of those situations which you just know will become a classic since it is both devious and difficult. In the ballroom is a giant chandelier secured to a wall by way of a rope. You discover the deviousness of the problem if you attempt the obvious, leading to an annoyingly obvious conclusion. The assumption is you'd be stupid enough to stand under the chandelier while untying it! Should you have had the foresight to fetch the crate from the kitchen you would be spared, presumably because the chandelier has less of a distance to fall before crashing onto your head.

Incidentally, GET OFF will not see you off the chandelier, but GO BALLROOM will, rather strange when the former does work when getting off the crate.

I wonder if this game has enough to keep me interested until the seventh or eighth star, never mind the thirteenth, since clearly so much effort for this adventure has been invested in producing the ultimate graphics. The vocabulary is friendly, though restricted to verb/noun such as GO (FOUNTAIN) and ENTER (COURTYARD) both accepted, and it is reasonably easy to get around until the problems become more pedantic and intractable.

Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle is an offering from a highly regarded force in adventure publishing, Scott Adam's Adventure International. Commercially it is as slick, polished and viably marketed as only American software can be. Superb graphics and a racy response give the game the edge. However, you can't help but get the feeling that beneath the razzmatazz the plot is a shade dull and uninspiring. As was said during a hamburger commercial and the US Presidential Election, where's the meat?


Difficulty: very difficult
Graphics: excellent and very fast
Presentation: well laid out
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: very fast
General Rating: Good.