Trevor Hall
1984
Adventure: Text
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

106,108
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Twin Kingdom Valley was launched almost a year ago on the BBC/Electron and Commodore computers and became a best seller. Hence it is not surprising Bug-Byte should attempt a conversion to the Spectrum. but 'conversion to the Spectrum was considered impossible' due to its 'more restricted graphical capabilities'. It is in the graphics department where this otherwise excellent adventure disappoints, but the only reason I can forward is poor artistic design within the limitations imposed by the microcomputer.

The Spectrum adventure market is now quite sophisticated and shows few signs of these 'restricted graphical capabilities' - far from it. In every other respect Twin Kingdom Valley is a very good adventure, especially for the novice.

The name of the program is unusual and you would be right to think it had some story behind it. it is not a valley you might have seen on one of those terrible Sunday afternoon films, no, it is a mythical place where two kings live. Since monarchy generally like it their own way, these two royals hate each other. As you roam the valley other creatures will live their lives perfectly naturally, only stopping a while to attack the occasional explorer - that's you. You play a typical adventurous and greedy human and your aim is to finish the game with as much wealth as possible. The gossip circulating around the valley is supplied to you at the touch of a button at the beginning.

Twin Kingdom Valley is one of many valleys surrounding the vast lake of Watersmeet said to have mystical properties derived from the many witches' potions spilled Into its rivers and streams down the ages. It is said a wise man may look upon the secret of life located nearby (at No. 42?). You have rented a small hut from the innkeeper of The Sword Inn where your ill gotten gains may be stashed. Your strength will fall if stabbed or dubbed too often by the assorted belligerent creatures, but you will gradually recover if you can find a quiet patch. The authors reckon you'll find some of the clues in the pictures. I hope this doesn't entail scurrying around for books on Picasso and Cubism because, man! are some of these pics groovy (can anyone tell me what on earth the picture of the bar represents? But keep it sober, man).

The game has many features which give some indication of its high class pedigree. The first is a choice between six options to control how the game runs for you. These range from Draw picture if room unvisited, give long description to Don't draw picture, give short description.

The option can be changed to suit during play by simply typing OPTION. The next feature to impress is the use of view directions where you are told the direction in which you are looking out from a location and can actually see your progress towards castles, inns, caves, and waterfalls. Also, a list of verbs is provided and a refinement allows the speed of printing to be controlled via 'TEXT. These features do not necessarily make a better adventure but they certainly show a willingness to please and is a sign that someone cares about craftmanship of the program - always a good sign.

You begin on a road by a wooden cabin. The hut fills the view to the north and so NORTH takes you inside. A deep solid beep accompanies each input but you must be careful with that confounded auto-repeat which, although being worse than useless, seemingly gets everywhere. This first location is a veritable store of goodies and it's good to see an adventure which presents the explorer with a few easy first steps to ease him into the swing of things. You are even given a fnendly companion - an elf - who may beat you to some of the goodies if you're slow off the mark but will kindly give them over If you ask him politely.

Being one who can smell a rancid beer pot at thirty hydrometers, I made my way east to The Sword Inn to quaff a beer in palatial surroundings. I was a little surprised to see the 'Work Ethic' currently sweeping the nation (well, Surbiton) making a stand in the computer games world - a fraternity more renowned for growing hair and perihperals (after typesetting. this will no doubt read 'growing hair on peripherals'). But there was evidence - as I sat refreshed after downing a pitcher of ale I happened to check my score (still 0) but what is this? My strength is reduced from 190 to 160. Fiendish!

Your pilgrimage to the Inn is made that bit lighter by some strange and certainly colourful graphics of the inn which grow in perspective as you approach, rather like the famous scenes in Lords of Midnight. Most of your early game will be spent finding the weapons to ward off Trolls and Gorillas who lunge at you with broad swords and wooden clubs. These assailants apart. Ts a simple enough matter to wander around a great many locations although of course you'll often get the feeling you're too far down the line with not enough weapons or gadgets to support you. The graphics, should you choose an option with them, are not too slow and it is clear when the program is ready to proceed as the picture becomes sharp and clear.

Twin Kingdom Valley is an adventure import from the BBC/Electron and Commodore computers and like all conversions has some peculiarities in style, in this case - the graphics. On its own merits, the Spectrum version is very responsive and friendly and has many superb qualities. Well worth exploring by any adventurer.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: hard to say. This is a long and involved game but probably not too difficult
Graphics: full screen graphics in 150 locations although many are repeated
Presentation: excellent
Input facility: very good
Response: interactive characters acting somewhat like those in Valhalla
Special features: Currah Microspeech
General Rating: Very good.

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