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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

Adventure Playground is aimed at children five years old and consists of two games: Crooked Adventure and The Queen Of Hearts. In Crooked Adventure the aim is to guide the crooked man and his crooked cat and mouse home to his crooked house.

There are four sub-games and in the first you must find the crooked stile. So, after a direction has been chosen, a simple match-the-shapes puzzle is displayed. If you guess correctly the old man is given a quick glimpse of the stile. Game two is to find the crooked sixpence. Here you have to match up two like-coloured trees as a cursor moves over them. In game three you have to guide the cat to the mouse, but you can only move after a sequence puzzle has been solved. The fourth and final game sees the man, cat and mouse searching for the crooked house, can you find it?

The Queen Of Hearts is a graphic adventure game where the Knave Of Hearts has stolen the Queen's tarts and hidden them. You travel through the kingdom and search for them, and on the way you meet nursery rhyme characters who either help or hinder you. There are plenty of objects to help your search.

Both games are great fun to play. Crooked Man helps to develop logical, planning and decision making skills, while Queen Of Hearts, with its text based approach, helps children with heir reading. This is another recommended purchase.

Castle Of Dreams is aimed at the over nines. It's a brain teasing exploration game where you must defeat the evil Klingsor before he destroys the world. His power is contained in a chest which needs to be removed from his castle and destroyed, and there are plenty of puzzles to be solved along the way.

Some of them are logical puzzles to tax the old grey cells, whilst others are physical challenges that need objects to overcome them. Of course Klingsor isn't going to let you through without a fight but you're prepared for him. I'm not usually fond of adventures, but Castle Of Dreams kept me amused for a long while. My pet hate with this game type is map drawing but the helpful people at Storm have provided a map of your route in the package. Text descriptions are fairly detailed, which they need to be in this game type, and the challenges are tough enough to keep adventure buffs playing until Klingsor's demise.