Spyplane is a text-only adventure written with The Quill that indicates quite effectively the scope of the adventure idea. Artic's Espionage Island was unusual in that it started off within the confines on an aeroplane, but Spyplane is even more unusual in that it all takes place within the confines of a plane. Of course, it doesn't take much adjustment of the imagination to see that being stuck in a plane is no real disadvantage - planes move about from location to location just like people, or adventure characters, and that is just what happens here.
As a wizard, warrior or priest you only have to worry about your various accoutrements and weapons - with a plane you have rather more to think about. Pressing Inventory after loading is complete will be a surprise. No adventurer before has set out already carrying so much. Your equipment consists of radios for communication, HE, UHF and VHF; you have a radar (with a tendency to go unserviceable at critical moments, but it may be repaired by a ground crew if you land safely); you have ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) which detects the enemy's radar in use (it may go wrong as well); you have sonar and sonobuoys for detecting underwater movements (it's obsolete though and only picks up the very oldest, noisiest of submarines); there's an infrared detector, an ionisation detector (for sniffing submarine exhausts), a mission analysis tape recorder, a camera and a computer.
Finding out how to use all this gear and when is one of the primary considerations. Flying the plane is tricky too. A map is enclosed with the cassette which shows the scenery you will be flying over. You start off at 15,000 feet over the Arzelean sea, and your objective is to gain as much information as possible about Turyan military equipment. You should photograph naval vessels and record any other useful items of information. On the map it shows the sea, islands and mainland of Turya and your homeland Oceania and your main base, Kithna, on a friendly island, and the Turyan base of Santos Field. Landing is a fairly complex business first time, involving contact with ground control, correct approach, and remembering to lower your undercarriage. Too much activity over Turyan airspace will alert their fighters which will intercept you and either force you down or shoot you down.
Instructions on the insert are helpful, with a list of technical words understood by the computer. There are more than 165 locations, which makes the game quite complex enough to require a map, especially as much of the terrain overflown looks rather similar from high up!
'The first thing to strike me about Spyplane was that it is more like a verbal simulation than an adventure. Use of the radio is somewhat difficult as it tends to alert the wretched enemy to your activities, but landing is hard without it. This plane is on its last legs, as all the equipment keeps going on the blink! A landing is in order as soon as possible to get everything repaired. The effect of flying a plane over sea and mountainous land is rather well done with the text descriptions, and the game is fun to play.'
'This is an adventure that is not an adventure, more of a searching game but one without much point to it. Nothing much goes on while trying to find enemy naval vessels, except getting shot down by Turyan fighters. Trying to land at an airfield is almost impossible and using your radio always alerts the enemy and ruins your mission. The documentation is very good with the help list of the available vocabulary. Overall, a very undemanding adventure.'
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