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Fraser Orr
1983
Arcade: Adventure
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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103,104
Chris Bourne

Dodge City comes packaged in a large video-style plastic box and contains two cassettes. The first is an action game, the second an adventure game, each inextricably tied to the other. The object is to master twelve skill levels in the action cassette, and if you do you will be given the running code for the adventure cassette. Without this secret code you will be unable to play the adventure. At the end of each skill level you will be given a clue, and all the clues are vital to solving the adventure.

The action tape shows you a Western desert plain with mountains in the background, and 'you' are a Pony Express rider. The aim is to collect four mail bags while avoiding the baddies on black horses chasing you.

They shoot at you, and you can shoot back. If you hit one, he falls off his horse and dies, only to replaced a second later by another. The other problem takes the form of cactus plants - running into one results in a prickly end. On the first screen you find yourself chased by one baddy at a time, but on succeeding screens there are more baddies to contend with. These may be rotten cowboys, bandits, Mexicans or Indians and mixtures of all.

You lose a life if hit by a baddy, if you run into a cactus or if you fail to collect four consecutive mail bags. Between each skill level the picture cuts to the office, where a message has arrived for you - a clue to collect for the adventure.

When the adventure is loaded, you are asked for the code, If you get It wrong the program NEWs itself. The scenario for the adventure is that you must prove your innocence in the murder of Dodge City's deputy sheriff, who has been found dead in your hotel room with a pearl handle gun, presumed to have killed him, lying at your feet. Now, read on...

CRITICISM

'The graphics of the horses are very good, smooth and quite realistic, and those of the adventure are all quite detailed, taking up the top third of the display area. In the action sequence, the pursuer's fire very quickly, sometimes when they're not even on the screen. I thought the adventure was quite a good one, but it takes a long time to get into as you must master 12 skill levels in the arcade tape. This is a daunting task. (I only managed five, but the producers were thoughtful enough to provide me with the secret code so I could get to see the adventure. Frustrated adventurers should send a stamped addressed envelope and fifty pounds to...) Seriously though, I think there is a danger of becoming bored with the arcade game before you manage 12 levels. If you want an adventure buy one, if you want arcade, buy it. The idea of Dodge City is debatable because unless you manage the first you cannot see the second, and I wonder how many adventure fans will want to wade through hours on an arcade game. Nevertheless, both games are above average in quality.'

'Both games have a nice sense of humour - the title page to the adventure is very good, and so is the first location which tells you 'Dodge City welcomes careful drovers'. A warning when entering the secret code -the characters entered don't appear written on the screen, only dashes appear, which may confuse you into an error. The idea is a good one, although it probably won't appeal to serious adventure fans because of the arcade game coming first, and it is difficult to yet through the adventure without those vital clues. '

'The action and adventure graphics are pretty good, but there's not much sound. The worst thing is the poor instructions which don't tell you the control keys, which are numerous in option and very badly laid out.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: poorly positioned; left= 2/0/W/S/SYM SHIFT, right= 1/Q/A/CA PS/P/ENTER, down = 3/E/D/X/l/K/M, up = 4/R/F/CIN/JIU, fire=5/T/G/V/Y/H/B
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive, although confusing with the keys
Colour: good
Graphics: good
Sound: fair, none on adventure tape
Skill levels: 12 essential 24 in all (arcade tape)
Lives: 5 (arcade tape)

General Rating: Above average.

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Screenshot Text

A Mailman's gotta do what a male man's gotta do,...