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Mark Sherlock
Adventure: Dungeon Crawl
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

CCS have produced a series of games aimed at the young female market. I must confess to being dubious of both the concept and the market that exists for such software. There again, remember Cabbage Patch dolls?

You begin with a choice between three levels which is unusual for an adventure game - Impossible, Hard or Easy. I started out with the first option, Impossible, no sexism implied I hope.

Your quest is to find four keys and make your way to the golden palace where the diamond treasure is to be found. You begin in the Desolate Lands and it comes as something of a surprise to find the wooden key in the first scene, and further, to be attacked by a hulk in a game one assumed to be at least only moderately violent. On going into battle with the hulk I was quickly and unceremoniously killed. Where it says impossible you'd be wise to take this literally. So much for the macho stance - let's try Easy.

You find yourself this time in the wood where again we find the wooden key straight away but it is much easier to fight the foe at this level - in this case a pack of marauding lions is easily dealt with. Go north and you are at The Volcano, where you are attacked by some tribes - men, but what is this? - the golden key. This game seems incredibly easy: only two scenes and I have two of the four keys already! This is, I take, no comment on a girl's ability to play adventure games. The tribesmen are easily disposed of and travelling north we enter The Foothills, find some lunch and are attacked by some blood-thirsty bats. I eat the food and my energy goes up.

Diamond Quest has a rather lurid pink cover with 'Games for Girls' firmly embossed on the front. The game seems to have little that might appeal to a girl and were it even aimed at a more general market it could be described as positively violent as hardly a scene goes by without an attack emanating from one quarter or another.

The graphics are very simple chiefly as a result of the author limiting himself to the 21 user-defined graphics. The plot is unimaginative and uses no detailed descriptions; there is no sense of mystery to retain interest for any length of time.

The level 3 option, Impossible, would seem superfluous as it is no misnomer. Every time you visit a location - even if one you've visited previously - you are confronted by a combatant whose fighting skills and initial energy points would seem to bear little relation to their expected prowess. Are fleas as deadly as lions? The game makes a poor adventure as there is a conspicuous lack of problems to solve and the fight sequences allow no room for thoughtful interaction. Did the male author of this software really design it for a feminine audience?

It would seem likely CCS contrived to aim this program at its limited market for the simple reason that it is not of sufficiently high calibre to be judged on its own merits. As a marketing ploy it is more likely to alienate the boys.