WHILE MILLIONS of impressionable girls were screaming their hearts out at Beatles' concerts in the far off Sixties, I was busy spending my Saturday afternoons in front of my mum's full-length mirror.
In my hipster trousers and already outmoded pointed shoes, I wriggled and postured in a vain attempt to convince myself that I bore some resemblance to that incarnation of all evil, Mick Jagger. With my Dansette blasting out Satisfaction I would practise looking cool and nonchalant for the evening's youth club dance. It never seemed to work - letters of sympathy will be gratefully received.
This qualifies me admirably to take a dispassionate view of Beatle Quest from Number 9 Software, an adventure written in open admiration of the Fab Four and a program which Beatles freaks will probably rush to add to their collection of memorabilia.
The game is a Quilled adventure with location graphics and bases the action around a large number of Beatles' songs, so you'll find it useful to dig out those dog-eared albums for the lyrics on the inner sleeves. You'll also need to know a bit of Sixties' slang - ageing relatives who claim to have once been hippies may be able to help.
The aim is to travel through the various regions, all of which are the settings of songs, and collect the items you find. Those must be returned to the start location - your miserable hovel of a bedsitter, with its broken window and peeling wallpaper. You can only finish the game when you have all the items and a top score.
Beware! The scoring system is not into uncool competitiveness and you may find that repeatedly asking for your score will reduce it quickly to zero. Certain illegal items will also knock points off, so stay clean and hang loose.
After passing the starting screen with its picture of the Abbey Road zebra crossing you find yourself in the bedsit. Your spaced-out girlfriend is also there, "just seventeen, you know what I mean. The way she looks is way beyond compare..." There are various things scattered about, the most useful of which is a book. If you carry this and open it in tight situations you may find some words of advice - though suitably mystic and framed in song lyrics.
After you've explored a bit you'll suddenly be told that you've got "the Hippy Hippy Shakes. You need some natural E." Now 'natural E' is raw food and you must brave the streets to find some - even a red herring has its uses. If you ignore the shakes your bodily organs will be destroyed by fatal vibrations, so you have no option but to wander outside.
Pretty quickly you'll realise that Maxwell - he of the Silver Hammer - lives around here too. That homicidal maniac will pursue you and, unless you can find a way to get rid of him, "Bang, Bang, Maxwell's Silver Hammer comes down upon your head"! Use the RAM Save function regularly to recover from his assaults and try again.
If you're lucky your cranium won't be fractured and you can travel to the church where Eleanor Rigby has just been buried, to Desmond and Molly's market stall or maybe get a bus down to Penny Lane. If you can't find a bus pass I suggest you search the old school thoroughly - but be careful, that is Maxwell's main base and very dangerous. Be careful too of drinking Dr Robert's Special Cup. That turns you into a real Nowhere Man.
The game continues iri this vein with plenty of pitfalls and puzzles to negotiate. The interpreter's responses are Beatle lines too. If you do something irrelevant you'll be told "Oh... you can't do that." Talk nonsense and you get "Goo Goo G'Joob?"
At first I was aggravated by the Shakes and Maxwell's repeated murder attempts but, after I'd found my way around those, I got into the swing of things and searched for my old records to find the way out of tricky situations.
The game is well constructed and uses the lyrics in an ingenious way to create a bizarre world of sixties' nostalgia. The style is humorous and makes a change from the more well-worn adventure plots.
If you're a fan then Beatle Quest is bound to be your bag, man. If you're not, you'll still find an entertaining game with plenty of interest.
Publisher: Number 9 Software, 47 St Georges Avenue West, Wolstanton, Newcastle, Staffordshire