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Mastertronic Ltd
Not Known
1988
Compilation
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128 +3
None

Other Links


103
Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Dipping its toes into the +3 adventure market is Mastertronic, with what's probably a sensible release bringing together three icon-driven adventures written by Clive Wilson and Les Hogarth, Shard Of Inovar, Kobyashi Naru and Venom. These have proved very popular with some readers in their tape versions, and very unpopular with others - including me!

The first thing to say is that these aren't souped-up remixes of the games, they're just the 48K tape versions all put onto the same disk. Not even the LOAD/SAVE icon has been changed from a tape to a disk, and when you want to LOAD or SAVE a game you're asked whether it's to/from memory or cassette, though if you choose the tape option it does work to/from disk.

If you've got your back issues handy then you can find out what I thought of both Venom and Shard Of Inovar by looking at the March 1988 issue, where I gave them over-all marks of four and six respectively. I did increase the mark for Venom by a notch soon after, as the version iI'd been playing was faulty and had crashed, but that was purely a one-off problem and the versions of all games are in fact fine.

You map and move around and solve problems with the objects you find, but everything you do is controlled from a series of icons around the screen. These are activated by joystick or keyboard, and usually in combination with the text that normally apears in the centre of the screen. Choose the EXAMINE icon, for instance, and you can then highlight each word of the location description in turn to say what you want to examine. If you want to USE something from your inventory pick the USE icon and then run through your list of objects one by one 'til you can choose the one you want, to use.

All three games are basically 'olde worlde' fantasies, and with so much memory being given over to the program and presentation they obviously don't have the depth of a more conventional adventure. Beginners might like them, though, as they tend to lead you by the hand through the options available so you don't get stuck looking for the right word - but you can still get stuck looking for the right combination of icons and words. To some the description 'icon-driven adventure' is the worst insult you can give, but others find them enjoyable, and even grumpy old me has to admit they're very smartly programmed. And very smartly priced, at little more than you'd pay for all three games on tape. More please, Mastertronic. How about a Smart Egg compilation next?

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