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Delta 4 Software
Fergus McNeill
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

When I was at tech college taking one or two A levels (makes them sound like long cool drinks which in many ways is what they were) I remember some member of an adjacent peer grouping going on about some great book he had just read entitled something like 'Bored of the Rings' which apparently was a send up of the Tolkien classic, I was at that age (and a good age, methinks) when things like Tolkien and Star Trek were such brilliant stars against the dour backdrop of everyday existence (activities like hoovering corduroys and searching for green biros that work) to denigrate, such was the esteem in which they were held. Of course the years have brought their changes (I now regard hoovering corduroys a perfectly respectable recreation) but my increased background cynicism only gently impinges upon these great works as I still largely regard them as timeless classics (Tolkien the incongruity of believable fantasy, Star Trek a fresh, scientifically optimistic, look at the future).

Now you're thinking, this can hardly be a kindly introduction to a game which satirises Tolkien's greatest work. Well, despite early reservations, I can say this game is mostly amusing, which you might expect, but further, is true enough to the original to be an interesting version in its own right. To summarize, all the names have been changed but the story's the same. The booklet which accompanies the program is broader, parodying other such guides which accompany other such programs. The Foreword and Prologue are disarmingly honest concerning the beginnings of this work.

One or two facets of this game mark it out in my mind. One is the submission of my review game on a microdrive the first so far and with the occasional shove in the right direction it performed just fine (elaborating on these shoves, however, might weaken microdrive sales)! Another is a letter from Fergus McNeil of Delta 4 to Lloyd, the man who gets the grams, which is about as friendly as my bank manager's asking me if I should like to 'service' my overdraft. All is sweetness and roses when Lloyd gets a mention but I am made out to be the uncaring oaf who delights in stamping on any game that doesn't come up to the mark and pressing it firmly into the substratum. The annoying thing is it's all true!

Despite the above, and the mention of a rival magazine in its HELP reply (not many rivals left now) this game has got that little something going for it. The redesigned character set is attractive, the pictures are generally passable and more important, quite fast (though the first is remarkably similar to that of The Hobbit no identical were it not for the chest) and the storyline is certainly a very full computer version of the original Tolkien classic. By the way, mentioning the Bored of the Rings book is no less than inflammatory given the aforementioned letter's express desire not to be associated with the Harvard Lampoon book whatever that may be.

Working out how the Bored names (and I exclude the mysterious Judith who seems to crop up everywhere) relate to Tolkien's provides much humourous diversion. Can you sort out some of the following? Fordo, Bimbo, Spam, Pimply, Murky, Tom Bumbadil. Place names get the same treatment with a Brandname Bridge, for example, looking remarkably like the Forth bridge. Other abbreviations include a Farmer Faggot's Triffid Farm and a trendy body-popping barrow wight.

Starting the game you are quickly introduced to the humour which pervades the whole, a gentle lampooning which keeps to the character of the Hobbit world itself. Bimbo disappears with a large explosion killing several of his Boggit guests while a little later Bimbo and Gandalf discuss the small task of ridding themselves of the ring 'and so we'll need to get some dense lemming to take it and dump it where old eyeball can't get it.... They both looked at Fordo'. An aspect of play really strikes home early on the fact that copious amounts of text can be produced simply by pressing any key. This, I am sure, is all part of the send up and makes the game all the more humorous for it. Nothing quite beats ,that faintly ridiculous feeling you get on discovering how the game allows you onward no matter how clever (or dismal) your attempts I only hope telling you about this won't detract from your own feelings of embarrassment.

Bored of the Rings is not as boring as the title might suggest and has obviously been construed by a programmer who enjoyed Tolkien's original. Its humour is directed both at the world of the hobbit (or Boggit in this case) and more broadly at the whole adventure fraternity.

Being someone who has been known to laugh at himself, for example, when munching mint peas and contemplating a pile of screw-in light bulbs, I welcome the opportunity to laugh at the whole fantasy/adventure world in a way which remains true to that world. As if checking the internal temperature of a thick pizza with a carefully inserted index finger (why does this column always degenerate into food)? I make a habit of prodding my way into the uncharted depths of an adventure. This one has three parts. Probing part two I found much to commend confirming what I had suspected this game has been dutifully constructed and carefully finished


Difficulty: mostly quite easy
Graphics: a few but not particularly good
Presentation: nice redefined character set and colours
Input facility: basically verb/noun
Response: instant, except where pictures are drawn
General Rating: Quite good.