Wow! Watch out for the Rockbinders, who -- controlled
by Skeletor -- are guzzling their way through
the granite to undermine our dear beloved Eternia!
And watch out for Orko (Trade Mark -- Filmation)
. . . and Evil-Lynn (Trade Mark -- Mattel Inc)
. . .
that does it. The Wiz just can't bear it any longer.
At the end of last year I said that I'd start to tell
the honest truth about the way I felt about UK adventure
software, and when this game popped up on my screen
something finally snapped.
appalling. It doesn't deserve to change hands for anything
more than the price of a blank cassette. US Gold should
be utterly ashamed to be offering software of this nature
and should withdraw the product at once. And those are
my more charitable feelings about the product . . .
there's no point in just being rude about the program.
Let me now level with you and tell you in more reasoned
tones why I feel this way. You, of course, may disagree,
though somehow I doubt it.
let me make it absolutely clear that I hold no personal
feelings of animosity against either Mike Woodroffe
of Adventuresoft (the programmers) or US Gold themselves.
On the contrary. Mike has hosted me at his offices in
Birmingham and I was impressed by his dedication to
adventuring in general -- all of which I said in an
article last year.
makes no secret of his need to program mass selling
games in order to pay the bills. He's perfectly entitled
to approach the market in that fashion if he wants to.
He obviously believes that the best way to get a big
selling adventure onto the shelves is through licensing
game themes from people like Mattel. OK so far . . .
US Gold obviously agree with him, otherwise they wouldn't
be distributing this product.
isn't OK is the actual standard of the product itself.
I feel pretty bad saying this because Adventuresoft
are a good bunch, but really we've got to come clean
here. This software is three years out of date. And
to sell it in 1987 at this price is simply not on. And
for me to say anything else in this column would be
to do my readers a serious disservice.
the design. The graphics are OK -- some of them are
even very attractive. But the text locations are brief
and uninspired and the puzzles are frankly dull. Some
of them are even bugged -- I spent literally dozens
of moves being 'dragged back towards the water' by a
tentacle from the moat without ever getting to the water.
And during the process I was able to swim happily to
and fro across the moat!
[this screenshot was not in the original
after reverting to my boring Adam identity (instead
of the He-Man), I was told that 'the tentacles drag
you into the water'. At last -- I thought -- I've reached
the water! But no -- the next line informed me that,
once again, 'the tentacle drags you back towards the
water'. Ah well . . . For once I was grateful when I
died and had to start again.
the whole structure is so limited. Examining most things
results in the message 'You see nothing special'. Most
locations offer nothing apart from their brief description
-- no objects to look at (unless they're required by
the plot). You go into the Inn and try to buy a drink,
but 'He-Man wouldn't waste time on such things' says
the program. Well He-Man might not, but most adventurers
parser is relatively efficient -- it offers BOM (ie:
OOPS, or Back One Move) as well as RAM save and restore.
You can also DROP and GET ALL. But it doesn't tell you
which word it doesn't understand and happily responds
to inputs such as 'EAT KING RADNOR' with the response
'THAT WON'T HELP YOU AT THE MOMENT AND THERE IS NO GUARANTEE
IT EVER WILL.'
says the same thing if you enter 'QWERTY QWERTY' or
any other rubbish.
about interactive characters? What about vivid location
descriptions? What about a bit of SCOPE -- for wandering
around just checking out the pointless objects for the
sheer fun of it; for discovering different ways of achieving
one's ends, instead of simply cracking an unvarying
sequence of puzzles?
don't know anything about the actual Masters of the
Universe subculture, but I suppose someone had to
spend quite a lot of money to buy the computer game
rights. Perhaps they thought that by buying those rights
they were in effect buying a big sale for the game.
Perhaps even a position in the charts. Hasn't it occurred
to the Powers That Be that there are other ways of getting
people to buy your games -- like programming them well,
it be nice for once if someone spent their money on
buying up license rights and then actually went ahead
and developed a game that was -- for example -- up to
is it that once the rights have been bought there isn't
any money left over for the program itself. If that's
the case, then how about a little originality -- at
least you don't have to pay for ideas that you come
up with yourself.
don't we have any?
for US Gold -- I can give them one idea for free. If
they keep coming up with stuff like this, then pretty
soon no-one's going to touch their product with a barge-pole.
No matter how much money they spend on licenses.
on Adventuresoft -- you've got the talents if you want
to use them -- have a bit more confidence in your own
ideas, stop wasting money on licenses, spend it on game
development and start winning customers instead of trying
to buy them.
-- I suppose it's just possible that I've got it all
wrong and this game is really what everybody out there
is waiting for. If this is the case, write and tell
me, and I'll give up adventuring right now and retire
to Disneyland (Trade Mark -- Walt Disney).