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Number 9 Software
Garry Marsh
1985
Adventure: Text
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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73
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

I think how well this game does will not rely so much on its detailed review, but on the games-player's feelings towards the subject matter. The Beatles were a long time ago, and unless you've been watching too much television you ' ll realise by now that the home games-playing market is quite young (the belated conversion of a staid publishing rival is testament to that).

Let's have a look at the first frame, which follows a picture of the famous zebra crossing outside the Abbey Road recording studio in London. 'You are in a bedsitter, circa 1969. You recognise it from the Hist/soc-sit-com vids back home, eg Hancock and The Liver Birds. The flowered wallpaper is brown and peeling, the naked light bulb flickers dimly. You can see a sink full of dirty dishes; the cooker needs cleaning. At the far end of the room is a divan bed. Someone is lying on the bed. A telephone lies nearby. You can see a pair of knitting needles.'

You might be a little puzzled by some of the above, so let me take you through it. Your view of the Beatles era is from a space station of 2953, where life is sedate and peaceful and boring. All your needs are catered for by the supreme machine Sel-Taeb 4, a word which if reversed says 4 Beatles. As keeper of the archives it is your responsibility to ensure that the New Earth retains its past. Your present interest is in the pre Dark-Times mythology, particularly the ballards of the so-called New Renaissance Minstrels. The four kings of Emi are more familiar to us as the four musicians who gave EMI some very profitable years.

The way in which you score points in the adventure is very much like any other, with the player collecting objects of interest and returning them to the bedsitter at the start location. What is different is that the collection of some items seems to decrease your score or perhaps asking for your score reflects a competitive attitude unbecoming of the sixties? Also, your advance through the adventure will only be assured if you first familiarize yourself with Beatles lyrics, which, naturally enough, will only be easy if you possess their records or have one of the many books published shortly after John Lennon's death on a New York street an event which made no more Beatles reunions a cert. An appreciation of sixties slang wouldn't go amiss either.

Beatle Quest, from a company that gets its name from a joke of John Lennon's which coalesced around the number nine, is full of sixties atmosphere. Everyone seemed either naive or idealistic in the sixties, but society seemed a good deal happier for it. The greedy, grabbing, fizzy, sickly sweet, simplistic, superficial effervecence of the eighties was never suspected; if it was, I doubt whether a single hippy would have bothered getting out of bed. Recently radio stations have been playing fresh copies of sixties classics, notable for the sharpness of the lyrics, and the BBC are repeating the Hancock half hours. Like the recent Till Death Us Do Part repeat, Hancock showed how good television could be before the BBC settled down into its old regime of cold baths, pathetic sell-outs and a feeling that its primary purpose was to keep the masses quiet and blissfully unaware. If the recent nostalgia for the sixties continues, and replaces the nostalgia for Victorian Empire, the BBC will be better for it. The superbly crafted and atmospheric adventure of the fab four, featuring officially endorsed lyrics, isn't a bad place to start your trip down memory lane.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: difficult
Graphics: some - imaginative
Presentation: redesigned character set
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: fast
General Rating: Psychedelic.

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Screenshot Text

A girl in a bedsit greets you in a game for musicologists (LMLWD) and Beatle fans, that's BEATLE QUEST.