The name's Shaw, Rick Shaw, and no-one takes me for a ride. After solving A Simple Case Of Espionage (reviewed last issue), I've got yet another devious crime to solve. Apparently a precious jewel-encrusted bird has been stolen. Once owned by the ancient dictator Xim its current owner, Sir Robert Harker, is more than a little worried.
The thieves have sent a ransom note to Harker demanding two million pounds. If it's not delivered in six hours time the eagle will be sold on the black market. My only clue is the postmark of a small coastal town on the ransom note. It's not much, but Sir Robert offers the use of his private jet. This is the way to travel, huh?
Unfortunately when I awake from a short nap I find myself bound hand and foot on the cabin floor. After a brief moment of confusion my razor-like mind drew the obvious conclusion that the pilot was in the employment of a mysterious third party, also interested in buying the eagle. While mentally patting myself on the back for the speed of my deduction I was disturbed to hear gunshots in the cockpit. Seconds later a man rushed out and the plane began to dive.
I've been in plenty of tough corners in my time, hut even I began to sweat about this one. Initially the problem seemed simple - there was a glass tumbler on a nearby table; knock it over, smash it and I ' d be out of here faster than your grandmother could say 'drugged drinks'. Unfortunately getting to the table proved virtually impossible, my body just wouldn't respond to any of the normal commands in frustration I took out my portable phone and gave Skyslip a call, or two or three. They finally gave me the number of Mr Adams, but he never answers the phone - all this hassle on the first location! Finally, just as I was about to toss the tape into the incinerator, I got a call. The solution was amazingly obscure: EDGE ME TOWARDS TABLE (and only this exact wording works - EDGE TOWARDS TABLE does not).
Once this problem is overcome, finding a parachute and getting out of the plane was easy. But it's not long before the restrictive vocabulary impedes progress once more. After landing in the sea and swimming to the shore, I found a rucksack. But neither EXAMINE or SEARCH RUCKSACK, reveals its contents: the more obscure LOOK IN RUCKSACK does.
Further exploration of the countryside and nearby town exposed yet more input problems. For instance, in the police station I could pick up a pair of handcuffs, which on being examined revealed a small key, but this can only be picked up by first dropping the handcuffs and subsequently taking the key! This sort of problem is enough to make a vicar kick in a stained glass window, to paraphrase a famous colleague. Further irritation is provided by the limited number of turns before you die of hunger, if food isn't quickly found.
On the plus side, the 128K version of the game is graced with nice graphics, present in every location, including some good isometric views of rooms (as in A Simple Case Of Espionage). But good presentation does little to enhance such an ill-thought out adventure, with gameplay reduced to a series of word-finding exercises. Only detectives desperate for a new case should consider this one.