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Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 128 +3

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Topologika's just brought out several Speccy disk-only (and text-only), adventures, and titles like Countdown To Doom and Philosopher's Quest might be familiar to anyone with a Beeb-owning friend. The latter sold in its tens of thousands for that machine, but the one I'm looking at in its new Spectrum incarnation, is Acheton.

This takes place in the four thousand and twenty-seventh year of the reign of Yelka-Dekkim IV (just thought you might be interested). It's a challenge to the greatest adventurers in the known universe, but that won't prevent YS readers from having a go as well. Your task? Simply to uncover the secrets of the land of Acheton. Did I say 'simply'? (Yes I did, 'cos I remember saying it).

To give you some idea of the scale of this disk-only game you're given a clue sheet which won't give anything too much away by itself, but which runs to 233 questions! The 'on-line' help is a feature of Topologika games, and I'll bet a lot of people have mixed feelings about this. If you're having trouble with something, you type HELP and you're prompted for a clue number, which you get by looking at the clue sheet I mentioned. Typing in the number gives you a genuine clue, and you're then asked if you want a more detailed due, right through to the solution to the problem being given - but you're always warned if that's about to be revealed. A good feature for beginners, but you'll have to be really disciplined not to look up the answers each time you get a bit bogged down.

With this game you start at the end - the end of a road, surrounded by forests, farmhouses, fields and a slight depression. You already have 50 points to your credit and haven't even touched the keyboard yet! Can this success last? Well it seems to do early on, as you can soon pick up quite a few treasures. The adventure's basically another excuse to go wandering round an underground cave system at the start - and I like the Tomb Room where failed adventurers are buried. It does open up to other areas too later on, and obviously the treasures get rather tougher to collect!

The parser's not up to the standard of Level 9 or Magnetic Scrolls. It can cope with multiple inputs, but really it's your basic VERB-NOUN type, and one disappointment is the lack of an EXAMINE command, which can not only add fun to a game but gives clues to the puzzles too. To its credit is the game's size, which at about 140K means a hell of a lot of game-play - as your map will soon show. So if you don't insist on the latest state-of-the-art fancy adventure, then Acheton is good value-for-money.