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Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 128 +3

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Tony Dillon
Chris Bourne

Shame on you, all of you who claim that the Spectrum software scene's days are numbered. I spit on you and I spit in your gravy. I agree with you that in some areas, maybe there aren't as many technical breakthroughs as there were before, especially in the arcade games market, but remember that small though they are, they are still there to be seen.

In the adventure area, however, the breakthroughs are coming thick and fast now, as finally, as Sir Clive expected, the full power of the 128K machines is being utilised. To show you what I mean, let's jog gently backward through our mind to a time when Bug Byte released good games and Jim Douglas had a parting like mine. The hot adventures at that time were those written by Melbourne House. Titles such as Sherlock and The Hobbit filled the charts and even now, people are still stuck in the goblin's dungeon.

Then a group of programmers who called themselves Level 9 wrote some very good and very successful adventures with improved 128K versions.

Finally, Magnetic Scrolls released what was to be (I think) the future of adventures, The Pawn. It boasted a very big vocabulary and probably the most intelligent parser ever seen on the Spectrum. Sadly, the game was 128K only.

It was followed by Guild of Thieves, which contained more of the same, plus one bonus. Freebies. The large American-style packaging contained all kinds of goodies related to the game such as a GOT credit card and a magazine and such stuff. And now there's Jinxter, a massive improvement, if that is possible, over the previous two games and even better freebies, but more on those later.

So, wotcha gotta do then? Well, as the game says, you have to find the bits of the wossname and put them together so that the thingumebobs - don't carry on wossnameing. Why the use of wossnawossaname? Apparently, everyone in the world of Aquitania is amazingly absent-minded and they keep forgetting things like where they left their cheese sandwiches. If you haven't guessed, everyone eats cheese sandwiches as well, which you find if you read the free newspaper which accompanies the game.

To translate the first sentence into English, you have to find various segments of a bracelet which will put an end to the reign of the witches. The witches are draining away everyone's luck and good fortune, which the bracelet, if completed, will restore. Not much of a storyline, but wow, what an adventure.

You want to know why this game appeals to me so much? The Pawn was good because of its style of writing and its unusual situations. Jinxter is even better because of its very funny script and the everday situations, such as riding on a bus, and you end up identifying more with the game's character. Now I know it still may not sound much of an adventure, but just sit back and listen, and I'll enlighten you further.

The game is very funny. Text only, and there is a lot of it, it's never boring and even if you find some episodes slightly tedious, you can do anything you want to enlighten the moment. For the first time ever, you have complete control over the objects. The programmers have included heaps of extraneous information about all the game objects, and the parser will respond sensibly - helpfully, even if you try to use the objects in ways the programmers haven't allowed for, which makes Jinxter infinitely less frustrating than most adventures.

The atmosphere in the game is rich, but never heavy, and stereotypes abound. Ring the bell on the bus twice to see what the driver says and you will see what I mean. Also, there is a high amount of human physical interaction. At stages in the game, you will be asked to do something with one of the freebies. Now, no oo-ering, you are only asked to do things relevant to the game. But more on the freebies.

MS has really done itself proud here. Freebies include beer mats and newspapers, not to mention a very grubby staff memo. All look very authentic and very helpful in places. Jinxter gets full marks for presentation, style, wit and fun. One that will keep you up late at night and probably make you miss Neighbours as well.

Label: Rainbird
Author: Magnetic Scrolls
Price: £15.95
Memory: 128K (+3 only)
Joystick: None
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

The best adventure ever released bar none and if it doesn't do amazingly well, then I'm a frog's armpit.