Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious Summer by this son of York! To be or not to be, that is the question! Er... get your bananas out, Mercutio. These and many other Shakespearian quotations (except the last one which I made up, no honest) are to be found in Avon, an adventure set in a dream-like Shakespearian world and written by Topologika's hot-shot Jonathan Partington, author of Kingdom of Hamil.
This disc-based text-only adventure casts you as an American traveller doing the tourist thing in Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the Bard himself. Making the mistake of annoying three sinister old ladies in an antique shop, then drinking a strange potion to ward off a headache, you find yourself in a world made up of one part Avon, one part Verona and one part blasted heath (who?). Your aim is simply to get back to the real world.
You don't have to know much about Shakespeare to play the game, because although the situations come from the Bard of Avon's well-known plays, the solutions are the usual adventure stuff; get newt eye, put in cauldron, pick up torch, and like that. To some extent this makes the whole thing pointless; it's just a series of Shakespearian references splodged together, without actually testing your knowledge or appreciation of the works; a bit like someone reeling off lots of jokes but forgetting the punchlines.
The screen display consists of nothing but text and a short description of your location and score. The parser is quite powerful, allowing chaining of commands, and you can choose terse, normal or long scene descriptions. There's a Help routine which prompts you to type in requests for hints listed on a sheet, and you get a postcard of Stratford with the package!
There's also a free bonus adventure, Monsters of Murdac, on the other side of the disk. This too is a text-only adventure, but in a more conventional pixies-and-princesses vein, involving a bold adventurer exploring a mysterious world of cannibals, ogres, witches and sorcery.
Although it a pleasure to find adventure games which aren't full of spelling mistakes, Avon is a bit of a let-down for a Shakespearian scholar such as myself (hem-hem modesty modesty) and Murdac is merely average adventure fair. Reasonable VFM, though.
Author: Dr. J. Partington
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Text only adventure that may help with your Shakespeare.