they haven't. Mastertronic deserve the gratitude of
Wizards worldwide for rescuing Carnell Software a couple
of years back and re-releasing the classic Wrath
of Magra, but Zzzzzz... is a sad example
of botched opportunities. It's an attractive game to
look at. The graphics are detailed and quite well drawn,
the screens are colourful, the character set has been
redefined and the SID chip is kept busy throughout pinging
and ponging through a variety of musical and other effects.
There's also a joystick option for selecting most of
the common commands such as GET and EXAMINE. One novel
touch involves using the joystick to illuminate different
points of the compass which then indicate which directions
are open for movement. All this is good, clean programming.
when it comes to the game itself, it's another story.
In fact, it isn't really a story at all. The idea is
that you've fallen asleep and found yourself in the
land of Zzzzzz... You have to solve various puzzles
and attempt, in the end, to wake yourself up. The problem
with all this lies with the inane sense of humour that
keeps cropping up, combined with some very illogical
plot developments. For example, you don't die in the
program when you get into trouble (which you can at
any moment, and often for barely acceptable reasons).
Instead, you are instantly transported to any one of
a number of randomly chosen locations. You retain your
possessions, so you might well find yourself swimming
along beside the shore carrying a bucket, spade, and
a bicycle. If you've ever tried to do this, you will
know that it's not possible without casting some pretty
nifty spells and wearing water-wings.
vocabulary is very small and the program gives you virtually
no assistance when you get into trouble, beyond telling
you to try something else, or simply saying it doesn't
understand. There is very little blurb on the cassette
inlay, so all the atmosphere and direction of the game
relies on the program itself. Since the first few locations
consist of an igloo, a hot sandy beach and a frontier
post guarded by a bandit, you can see that probability
is being stretched to the limits. Zzzzzz... reminded
me slightly of Quest for the Holy Grail, a game
I slugged -- sorry, criticised -- recently in this column
for killing you off too illogically and having a pathetic
sense of humour. Programming-wise, Zzzzzz...
is streets ahead of that ancient monster, but the plot
. . . well, I'm afraid we don't seem to have come very
far in the last three years with this one. OK, it's
cheap, but then money isn't everything and life's too
short to spend snoring away in front of this little