Richard Price sets out on the road to Rivendull while Tolkien turns in his grave.
NOT LONG AGO, after a long day at the keyboard, I settled down in front of the TV for a few hours of mindstretching intellectual activity - namely Hawk the Slayer, a film which would make Mary Poppins seem like high art.
At the beginning was a short voiceover which summed up the plots of about 75 percent of all adventure programs: "This is a story of heroic deeds and the bitter struggle for the triumph of good over evil and of a wonderous sword wielded by a mighty hero when the legions of darkness stalked the land."
All but one of this month's software fall into this category. Games designers seem to think that this sort of plot is all that most players need. I doubt it and once again make a plea for real storylines and humour. Grumble, grumble...
Never mind though, Delta 4 Software has taken the archetype of all those solemn hero tales and turned out a classic parody.
BORED OF THE RINGS
Bored of the Rings is a direct and cheerful spoof of Tolkien's trilogy, only the names and aims have been changed to protect the innocent - and to avoid hassles with the copyright.
The game is in three parts and has been written with the Quill. There are also graphic scenes produced by Gilsoft's new illustrator package. Delta 4 has plumbed in a fairly pleasing medieval-style typeface and the general presentation is clear and easy on the eye. You get from one part to the next by way of a password given at the end of each section.
First, the plot. Naturally it is very similar to the original but the characters and detail are, ahem, somewhat different. Fordo the Boggit lives in the Shire with his uncle Bimbo. On the principle of W C Fields' dictum 'never give a sucker an even break' he gets landed with the job of returning the Great Ring to Mount Gloom in the Land of Dormor.
So begins the great quest. Fordo and his cowardly chums, Spam, Pimply and Murky set off for Whee through the forest. On their way they encounter Tim Bumbadil, the ageing acid-crazed hippy and his flower-child girlfriend Hashberry.
From Whee they head towards Rivendull where the full company teams up. There's Legoland the Elf, Giblet the Dwarf and Aragont, who continually recites his ancestors' names at any conceivable opportunity.
Part one ends at the gates of the Morona Cave Tourist Complex and is fairly simple to solve, acting as more of a scene setter than anything. The second and third sections are tougher but retain the same irreverence towards the great epic.
The humour can be fairly school-boyish at times and there are a couple of occasions when it is both distasteful and unnecessarily unpleasant. On the whole though the game is great fun and well-produced too.
For your £5.95 you will get two cassettes and a daft little booklet with a map of the trek. There's also a microdrive version at £8.95. Fergus McNeill, the author, has told me that the game has been accepted for distribution so you should have little trouble getting it. If not, write to Delta 4, The Shielding, New Road, Swanmore, Hampshire SO3 9PE.
Publisher: Delta 4
Price: £5.95 (£8.95 Microdrive)