If you're the only jester in a kingdom, you tend to get a bit blasé about the competition. Jeremy Jester was sure there was nobody else after his job and the quality of his jokes (pretty awful at their best) began to slide. Everything was hunky dory (J. J. carried on bashing his bladder, screeching songs and blabbering Christmas cracker jokes) till Userper the great Jester of the Southern lands arrived. Jeremy was ejected from the king's hall without further ado. A pink elephant (resplendent in a very fetching tutu) informs him that only Smurkin, who possesses the power to turn precious ingredients into the Secret of Laughter, can help. Unless he manages to collect these ingredients and rescue the wizard's kidnapped daughter, his jesting days are definitely gone.
J.J.'s grave and solemn jaunt winds from his favourite, cosy nook in the Prancing Odour tavern (heard that somewhere before?) along the battlements of the Palace of King Bawd, through the Plains of Acne, to Grizelda's Lodge, and finally to Smurkin's Den. Armed only with a seriously warped sense of humour, he encounters a whole host of potential victims. Mr Pillock, manager of the local garden centre and a sadistic dentist; Oly North, a dubious American hero; James Slanderton the archbishop of the Met who likes playing with his whip, and an infantile little chap called Ronnie Raygun have differing reactions to jolly J.J.'s ultimate weapon - telling a joke.
Like the jokes or not, there are plenty of puzzles to get your teeth into. Sudden death is a constant possibility while the complex environment calls for extensive exploration. Satirical plot and puzzleability are closely linked. Lateral thinking is definitely in order though even the most carefully laid plans can come to grief in one of several sudden death situations.
The competently implemented PAWed parser has been expanded to cover a whole host of useful commands. You can choose from four character fonts, repeat the last input, type OOPS or eons to take back a move, enter the previous room by typing LAST, and RAMSAVE and tapeSAVE your position.
As another well-presented, competently constructed adventure produced courtesy of Gilsoft's PAW, jester Quest doesn't exactly stand out from the crowd. How enjoyable you find it ultimately depends on how attached you are to this cynical, satirical genre. I'll venture to say that it's more likely to appeal to younger adventurers and anyone else who can stand Jeremy's awful, grisly jokes. If you think you can, write to Nebula Designs Software at 112 Upperwoodlands Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD8 9JE.
Sensible Jeremy jigs soberly through the countryside.