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D. Watson
D. Watson
1985
Adventure: Text
£0.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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109
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

One of the strangest manifestations in software in the last year or so is the vast range of prices available to the consumer. The packaging and ' quality of tape may be the same both for an £8 game and a E2 game, it being the programming which is thought to determine just how much the public are willing to cough up. There is no parallel in either books or records as you can guarantee that, say, an LP in the shops at £2 was once sold at the usual price when it first appeared and the artist all the rage. So what on earth can you make of software on offer at the measly sum of 99p when the quality of programming is not bad and even the printing on the inlay is neat and attractive? Just as I was working on the sums as to whether such a venture could possibly make any money I was astounded to see that an offer on the inside of the inlay card explains how to obtain a free blank cassette from PMS. The mind boggles.

Two aspects of this game impressed me when I considered the price. One is the programming which is not bad and compares favourably to games three times the price, and two is the design of the game which is sufficiently different to hold the player's attention for some time. I think clever implementation of a novel idea is pretty amazing in a game which retails at 99p.

The all pervasive flavour of this adventure is that of Lewis Carroll, an Oxford mathematics don who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, Through the Looking- Glass (1872) and the nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark.

The superb loading screen will be strangely reminiscent to those who have read the Alice books. The title of this adventure must refer to the piece of string you are carrying in the first frame. Examining it you find it has ten knots. To untie these you must solve ten puzzles which lie beyond the five characters you meet: Humpty, Caterpilla, White Knight, White Rabbit and Mad Hatter, Your task then is to find and help Alice to the Eighth Square to be queened. Movement is very simply Left, Right, Up, or Down but what isn't so simple is the puzzles set by the characters. Humpty comes up with 'I don't admit women are faint' which will only make perfect sense to you if you are ready for the loony bin. Needless to say I could only make partial sense out of it but I've met one or two people in the software business who could wax lyrically with this one.

And what might you make of this one: He thought he saw a garden-door that opened with a key, he looked again and found it was a double rule of three. 'And all its mystery, ' he said, ' is clear as day to me!'.

Tangled Tale is an exceptionally good buy for only 99p. It will be especially enjoyed by those who know something of Lewis Carroll's works and the magical world they create. The program's simple structure and imaginative graphics will appeal to the young and yet the width of response to anything you type in will keep the not-so-young happy as well. Tangled Tale is a cheap tonic for a crazy world.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: the puzzles are difficult but this does not stop play
Graphics: good colourful, imaginative graphics
Presentation: super
Input facility: v/n
Response: instant
General Rating: Very good value.

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