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Mandarin Software
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Mega-game status on Level 9's Magik trilogy without a doubt, and good to see all Spectrum possibilities being catered for at the same price... well, except for the 16K machine, that is, can't think why. The cassette version offers one adventure per tape, with 48K versions on one side and 128K on the other, though I haven't seen the disk version yet as that's just being finished off. The three games included are Lords Of Time, Red Moon and The Price Of Magik, and just like the Rainbrird trilogies before them, all the games have been put onto the latest version of the Level 9 adventure program. It's good to see an old friend like Lords Of Time in a shiny new outfit!

The games are still text-only, but the text has been considerably enhanced in he 128K versions, where there's also a RAMSAVE command as well as an OOPS feature that takes you back one move and which can be used several times in succession, depending on the circumstances. There's the now-usual Peter McBride story in the glossy manual, which also includes an intro to adventuring for beginners. Good move that, following in the footsteps of US adventuring giant Infocom, as is the new description of the games being 'interactive fiction' that's crept onto the front of the box.

The games aren't really a trilogy of course - the two Magik ones do continue a theme, but Lords Of Time was in no way a prequel to them. But who cares when you've got such good adventuring. The story that's been concocted is that these are the three key episodes in the struggle to defend creation. Blimey, what a responsibility! Yes, only you can save mankind from a fate worse than Wet, Wet, Wet.

Lords Of Time has its champions as one of Level 9's better games, and it has a neat idea which involves you in travelling to nine assorted time zones, in a time machine cunningly disguised as a clock. Turn the cogs inside and swing your pendulum, and there you are in a different time and place. Solving some of the problems will require you to transport objects with you from another zone - and the problems are very cleverly worked out. Sue Gazzard, where is your next game?

Red Moon introduced the idea of spell-casting to Level 9 games, as you attempted to retrieve the powerful Red Moon crystal. This was voted 'Adventure of the Year' in many places, as was the follow-up, The Price Of Magik, which had you exploring a dark and gloomy mansion in your battle against the dreaded magician, Mylgar. It was a real treat to have another look at this one, and renew my friendship with the werewolf and the giant slug. A thoroughly enjoyable romp, and a good 'open' game with lots to explore before you start getting stumped.

Three games worth getting then, definitely, even if you've already got one or two of them in their earlier versions. Magic!