It began as just another routine planetary survey. The starship Nebula IV, already two years and 23 new worlds into her mission, had dropped into normal space in the vicinity of a bright white sun around which orbited a system of eight planets. Of these, only the third seemed worthy of further investigation.
J14692 was an Earth-type world, comprising two large continents separated by a vast ocean, across which raged strong winds and heavy storms. The native population, that appeared to resemble Mankind closely, was estimated to be at technological and cultural level F6 (ie roughly equivalent to Middle Ages Europe), although with two marked variations. Magic, in a variety of forms, seemed commonplace on both continents, and secondly, a small area of Continent Two proved impenetrable by ship sensors, an anomaly totally out of keeping with the planet's apparent technological level.
As it turned out, it was these 'variations' that were to cause all the trouble.
The year is 2285. Mankind, having finally solved the problem of interstellar flight, has set forth to explore the Galaxy under the strict control of the Department of Galactic Survey and Colonisation- commonly known as GalSAC. The name, as it turned out, proved extremely apt as the human race quickly began to strip each new world of its assets with little regard for any native population unable to assert its rights.
The job of the SAC ships was to locate and conduct initial surveys of potentially useful worlds. A small, self-sufficient shuttle-craft containing 3 Survey Officers was ejected into the atmosphere of each promising planet, to be collected again in approximately 1 Earth Year. The SAC ship meanwhile continued on its journey repeating the procedure until all the survey shuttles had been released, returning at the appointed time to gather up the ships and the crews' valuable findings.
As one of the survey team allocated to J14692, your mission was to undertake an investigation of the section of Continent Two which was impervious to the SAC ship sensors. Your mission came to an abrupt end however, when the shuttle developed a malfunction resulting in engine failure, you were the only survivor of the resultant crash.
With no radio to contact the mother ship on its return, your future looked uncertain to say the least. Would it be possible to make a radio on such a primitive planet? Your only hope seemed to be the blank area a world away -but how would you get there with no ocean-going ships?
Then one night you find yourself at the camp-fire of an old traveller. The man recounted an ancient legend, the origins of which were lost in the mists of time. The legend stated that a race of Shining Gods once ruled Rollus - the planet's real- name, which stemmed from that earlier occupation. The people lived in peace and plenty, until one dark day the Gods with-drew across the ocean to a place where none could follow. There the Gods wait until this very day, for the Golden Age to once again return.
The only other useful information you are able to elicit is that far to the east, within a circle of unscalable mountains, there may lie a portal used by the Gods aeons ago. The location remains a mystery, for although many have sought it, none have ever returned.
I must say, whatever the pros and cons of playing a CLWYD ADVENTURE SOFTWARE game, at least the background stories are entertaining and well-written. However, as with their previous release, Futurezoo (which is now available for £2.99 from CAS), the program itself isn't so well put together. It has a bad case of the 'You Can'ts', centred around the fact that about the only thing you can do is pick up the very obvious object pointed out on a separate line in true primitive Quill style. Similarly, the examine command only seems to work on these obvious objects -and even then only sparingly. Take the two objects, the Dog and the Jester (who you find in the Innhouse, and is a peculiar object to pick up ... I think you'll agree). Neither the Dog nor the Jester (who wanders off after a while) can be examined - surely something of note could have been mentioned for such a colourful character.
The adventure is one of the most difficult to map, with south reversing a north on only rare occasions, despite the accompanying notes which advise the player to draw a map. I found by far the best approach to this adventure is to press any direction key at random - the structure has been so devised that this method sees you shooting around efficiently, while the more careful mapping of routes does you no good whatsoever.
Landfall of Rollus, the first part of the Starworld trilogy, is a text-only Quilled adventure obtainable by mail order from 14 Snowdon Avenue, Bryn-Y-Baal, Mold, Clwyd CH7 6SZ. Considering the amount of effort put into the program and storyline I can't rule out the game entirely, but I think the adventure assumes too much from the player - who is expected to struggle through the unimaginative and deadpan first part in order to get to the main adventure.
: difficult in an uncooperative sort of wayGraphics
: plainInput facility
: Quill, and therefore fastGeneral Rating:
Assumes a lot of patience on the part of the player.