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Global Software
Not Known
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Compilations are definitely the in-thing at the moment. Here's the first especially for adventurers, although it contains four lesser-known adventures rather than a group of mega-hits. Still, anything that carries Tony Bridge's seal of approval has to be worth looking at, and the varied selection here should provide at least two or three for anyone to enjoy.

My own un-favourite is this attempt at producing a D&D style game.

The opening screen invites you to restore a saved game, create a new dungeon, create a new hero, or create both. And your hero can be either a human, elf or dwarf, though there arr no characteristics to set up other than those you're issued with. You then base a choice of six quests; or of a random quest; or of no quest at all if you just want to have a mooch about. The quests all have grand names like Silmaril, The Island, or Crown and Serpents - and as that sounded like an interesting pub to visit I set off in search of it. It has to be said, though, that all the quests look remarkably similar.

One feature of the display screen is an attempt to simulate real vision, So, your little matchstick man can only see what he'd see in real life; any part of the landscape that's blocked by walls or whatever doesn't appear on the screen until you move to a more suitable position - hence the shadows, out of which various beasties come so attack you. One of the first essential things to do is locate the home of the Merchant, somewhere near your starting point. Here you can buy and sell items, including the food that you'll need to keep on trekking.

There are plenty of spills and spells, as you attempt to slay a few monsters and boost your experience. If you fancy moving a matchstick man round a matchstick landscape and getting attacked by matchstick rats then this could be just the game for you.

The Mural is certainly a contrast - unless there are now dungeons and dragons in Neasden High Street. This is where you allegedly begin the game, according to the scenario. Having been accosted by two men wearing suspender belts, you're given the task of painting over an obscene mural. Now you have to admit that as adventures go, this is just that bit different!

You awake in a cave with nothing more for company than The Quill's gothic character set, but with exits in all directions. Trust me to pick the one which is immediately blocked off by a penguin which drops down and sits there eating a sandwich. Or was it a sandwich eating a Penguin? Whatever it was, I had nothing to try to get past it with, so I entered the cupboard, warily examined the smelly fur coat and tin of dead maggots, before going north and walking into a lamp post where I was given a message that I'd met the lion and the wardrobe, but no witch yet!

Back at the cave, another exit leads to the obscene mural itself, so in the interests of research, I took a close look. It "shows several nubile elven-maids in some extremely erotic postures while a gorilla in a tutu dances in the background." Shame it's text-only. It sounds just like the YS Christmas party! Interesting as the mural is, the room's a bit plain otherwise, so it's back to the cave and out the other side and off to a small house, where you find a carved cuckoo, a copy of the New Orc Times (ouch!) and a C5 order form quietly mouldering away. Heading off in yet another direction through a field of ripening corn, past the buzzing insects and the hovering vultures, I managed to squeeze mvself into a pillar box but couldn't squeeze myself out again. The adventure makes as much sense from in there as it does from anywhere else, so I stayed put and tried to read the small white envelope and puzzle out why I hadn't been able to get the bucket with a hole in it out of the well. Baffled yet? Me too - but I enjoyed it all tremendously just the same.

Released previously as Project X - Micro Man, this is the tale of Professor Neil Richards (that means you), who's been given a dose of Gamma Radiation that's reduced him to the size of a box of matches. Quite why the shrinking has to occur while he's sitting inside his car I don't know, but it does lead to the first fiendish problem - how to get out. As it seems to me highly unlikely that most people would get it, I'll give the answer here, but backwards, of course: TIGN INRU TFOD AETS NIEL DNAH DNIW.

With that out of the way I was soon wandering towards the main road, where a dead hedgehog warned me to be careful. It's bad enough being small without being squashed,.Keeping to the fields seemed a better bet, and the first simple maze came in the form of a haystack - no prizes for guessing what you can find hidden there. Later on a broken lolly stick proved its usefulness, though you've no sooner dug your way out of somewhere than you're confronted by a giant mole. Up onto a lawn and you're outside a house, though inside the garden shed there's a swarm of killer wasps that saw me off. Fortunately the RAMSAVE feature helps battle recommence pretty easily.

MicroMan's a lot of fun, and clever use of The Illustrator means that decent graphics pop up fairly regularly.

This final adventure on the Fourmost tape is the one that'll probably interest lots of people as it's an early effort from someone who went on to do better things. That someone is Fergus McNeill, the better things arc Bored Of The Rings, Robin Of Sherlock and various quests for various joysticks.

Not that Galaxias is in any way bad - it is certainly my favourite in this collection, with lot's of style and indicating just how much variety you can coax out of Gilsoft's utilities.

For a futuristic adventure we're presented with a futuristic character set, though I'd have willingly sacrificed it for one that I could read. Alongside it goes a futuristic adventure language, too, so that you get responses like ‘Confirmed' instead of 'OK', and ‘Input not understood.' Your job is to cruise the galaxies and find the lost crystal, but first it helps if you look round the locations near the Spaceport where you begin. Just south of the Metalon Bar you'll find the Alcohol Reclamation Centre, (the loo!) while further on there's the miniest of mazes - one location!

There are special instructions for when you reach the bridge of the meta-galactic skycruiser, and these enable you to visit whichever planets are within your reach. Initially there are four of these: Graflon, Terminan, Akrol and Septule. Graphics are used sparingly but effectively, and the ability to travel between the different planets means there's a lot of variety in the adventure - just as there's plenty of variety in this package. And at £2 an adventure I can't see anyone complaining. Okay nothing stunning, but a nicely thought-out collection of good solid stuff that might otherwise have escaped your attention.