Ariolasoft UK Ltd
1986
Adventure: Text
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

89
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

It's at times like these that I wish I'd marshalled my back issues of CRASH into some semblance of order, perhaps with the help of those binders lost within the plethora of sweatshirts and peaked caps to be found in our beloved magazine. It has been stated by many a more academic devotee than myself that the universe is becoming more chaotic, not due to man's struggling with Sunday trading or the thinness of bin liners, no, but to some innate Physical Law, an inescapable truth even outside university Physics departments. The best laws can only be disproven by travelling to the very edges of the universe and proven by simply opening one's eyes. This idea of the whole works spiralling into a state of devilish disorder is indeed a good one as the evidence does lie right before me on my desk to be precise. Someone once said (or was it scowled?) an untidy desk is a sign of an untidy mind and this is borne out by the unruly state of my desk when compared to that of my bank manager's.

This lengthy introduction you might be surprised to discover is indeed an attempt to outdo that lengthy discourse which preceded a rather favourable review of Ram Jam's last adventure, Valkyrie 17, reviewed way back in a month with notables such as Return to Eden, Twin Kingdom Valley, Out of the Shadows, Tower of Despair, and Eye of Bain. Such months are, alas, conspicuously rare these days. As you may gather from the intro to this piece, it took me quite some time to discover this all happened way back in December 84.

Let's look at the bumph behind this one now because it seems to me we both need a rest from long discourses on disorder in the universe.

In the region of Hapshal, south of the dark mountains of Mortran, lies a small village on a road that leads to a far off city. Sinister things were happening during the hours of darkness, as each night when the villagers locked themselves into their homes a few of them would have disappeared by daybreak. Ancient legend told of an evil Xyradd called Trantoss, one of the undead who was banished to the far off mountains with all his powers removed by the long dead Wizards of Vane. The legend told of a golden mace that gave Trantoss his powers. This the wizards smashed and the pieces were scattered over the mountains.

Now, the wise men of the village believe, Trantoss must still be alive and he must have collected together the pieces of the mace. His power is returning. All they can hope to do is to destroy the mace once again before all his powers return. They need a brave man to venture along the lost paths into the mountains. None of the villagers are prepared to take the risks involved until, one night, two brothers awake to find the rest of their family has disappeared into the darkness. These two, Lobo the woodcutter, a large, slow man, and his brother Scorn, a nimble chap of dubious character, agree to go on the quest. You join the plot as they are equipping themselves in the village and your job is to guide these two disparate characters.

That's better, I feel quite refreshed and ready to get stuck into this review now. Loading up, you are presented with a most impressive and professional display composed of three main parts. On the left is a tall, thin picture of where you stand. The pictures here are detailed and informative, given their very limited area. In the middle is a column symbolically depicting the two main characters Lobo and Scarn with the chap currently playing highlighted in yellow, and the other either green when in the same location as the chap playing, or blue if he has found a place of his own. During play the two brothers can be parted and joined to suit the style of play in any one instant.

The story is read from a scrolling column on the right of the screen, which is where you input as well, and tells of your travels from a village street with tavern, store and house to the forbidding mountains beyond. Inside the store the storekeeper bids you to take all you need for your quest and you'd have to be pretty ungrateful not to take many of the things he offers which can be achieved with the ever useful GET ALL command. Inside the house are a woollen blanket and a couple of gold coins but these are soon augmented with the things from the cupboard which is seen to open in the picture always a welcome addition. It is in the tavern where a real advance is made and you begin the adventure proper, but I'll leave you to discover how to proceed and how to deal with the dog found a little further along the way.

Terrors of Trantoss is a very professionally produced adventure with an attractive display and graphics. The character set has been tastefully redesigned to fit neatly into its column on the right of the screen, looking much smarter and more compact than the usual sprawling Spectrum text. The game is very easy to get into, being eminently playable and making up for any perturbations caused by its lack of an effective EXAMINE command and the adventure's slow, plodding pace. The control of two very different characters showing widely divergent attributes adds that little something to gameplay as you swap from one to the other in order to tackle different problems. All in all, a very worthy release from the Ram Jam team.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: easy to get into
Graphics: good
Presentation: appealing and a little different
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: slow
General Rating: Very interesting.

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Screenshot Text

In the house, where gold and a blankey may be found - useful items on the quest to eliminate Trantoss.