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Central Solutions
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

You are a reporter, somewhat baffled as to why a famous explorer, well-known for his contempt of the news media, should offer you an exclusive interview. You approach your destination with your editor's words echoing in your mind: 'Don't' ask me. He specifically requested you. Anyway, it'll do you good to get away from all those corruption exposes for a while'.

After a short journey across the bay, you arrive at the island retreat of Sir Justin Philips. The huge mansion looms up in the early morning mists as you reach the jetty and secure your motor boat alongside a similar craft. Approaching the imposing front entrance you notice the main doors are slightly ajar. With a gentle push you are inside. You sense a sudden movement and turn to see the doors slam behind you.

So goes the story which follows a superb loading screen for such a cheap game (commissioned loading screens can cost a fair amount on expensive games these days). Keeping the quality up, the first picture isn't bad either with very neat shading and altogether superior appearance when compared to the normal untidy line-drawn-cheapy look. It is a drawing of the large entrance hall with a pair of stairs leading up to a landing with two pictures hanging from its walls. The perspective and shading are just right and the redesigned character set is a very readable set of capital letters.

Heading east from the off you meet a cloakroom, and a useful item while heading west takes you on through the library to a study where examining the typewriter reveals a clue: 'Confused already? Let's soap you're not, insert the tape to discover your lot'. The tape this sheet of paper in the typewriter refers to may well be the video tape you find in one of the remoter rooms in the mansion. In the library you see a fairly typical location description. 'You are in the library. In the centre of the room stands a low table. On it an ornately carved bowl-shaped artifact containing the remains of several cigars is resting beside a coffee-pot and cup. Along each wall are rows of well-stocked bookshelves. Doors lead north, east and west'. There are a few clues as to the lifestyle of the owner of this mansion here, and a further insight is the reply to examining most domestic items, 'It looks expensive'.

To the north is a location which at first appears pivotal but is somewhat unyielding to efforts to actually get anywhere: 'You are in a stylishly appointed lounge, containing items ranging from the prehistoric to ultra-modern. The walls are adorned with many unusual and obviously ancient ornaments, including an elaborately decorated sword, a sacrificial dagger and several grotesque carvings. The room also boasts a state-of-the- art video, TV and audio system. In the centre of the room stands an easy chair with a coffee table alongside. To the west there is a window'. I won't go through what happens when you try to make use of every item here but when you get down to the window at the end, even that's barred! Further along the way you meet a dumb waiter which is easy to operate and takes you up and down the levels and about four different shades of bathroom.

Countdown is a game composed around The Quill and Illustrator. As a cheap game it has much to offer, not least its surprisingly effective (if slowly drawn) graphics. The room descriptions are evocative and the game is well enough constructed to hold your interest for some time.


Difficulty: easy to roam
Graphics: Not bad for the price
Presentation: good
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: Quill
General Rating: Very good value.