graphics adventure from Step One has eastern overtones
(as in 'oriental', gentle adventurer, and not that you
should assume it has too many GO EAST commands
to input). In fact, it is located in Arabia where you
are set the task of stealing the scroll of Akbar Khan
and escaping the city where it is kept. The reward?
Something the White Wizard has known for a long time:
the secret of eternal life.
game starts, where so many adventures seem to commence,
outside the walls of the city. Now were I an inexperienced
Wizard, I might just consider it clever and worthwhile
to investigate the exterior of the city first. But of
course, I man not lacking in experience and am well
aware that this is such a common ploy in many adventures
-- give the player the sensation that the game is set
in a potentially vast space of which the city is only
a part. The player is induced to think of how much he
or she might miss by diving straight in through the
city gates (or over the castle drawbridge or whatever),
and thus roams the exterior locations, frequently with
little or no success. Yet, despite my skills, I did
probe without before going within.
needn't have bothered. After encountering an oasis and
drinking my fill, I got stuck in one of those ridiculous
infinite deserts. After wandering about for seemingly
hours, my blood pressure had risen to serious levels.
The infinite desert, like the wrenched maze, is a blight
on adventure games, which should be concentrating on
involving the player in an imagined but convincing other
world and not wasting time by creating childish and
silly problems like this. However, the problem was not
over . . .
I thought, I'll start afresh and hopefully on the right
foot this time. How wrong could I be, for when I attempted
to quit, the program instantly displayed the prompt
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LOAD A PREVIOUSLY SAVED GAME?.
I certainly did not, I wanted to carry on but start
a new one. So you can probably visualise my astonishment
when the wrenched computer promptly NEWed itself.
alack! Immortality does not always breed patience, but
unlike most adventurers, I do have just a little more
time on my hands to reload a game, so back to the cassette
recorder. It took ages. I started again. This is when
I encountered the problem with ENTER. According
to this adventure it seems to be a word which is redundant.
The typically American GO GATE, however, seemed
to work. It isn't that Americanisms are impure in adventures,
but GO used on its own is such an imperative,
implying GO TO something rather than THROUGH
it. The vocabulary should be friendly enough to
allow sufficient variants to suit players. After all,
an adventure isn't a 'guess the programmer's lack of
education' game or, for that matter, a 'let's see how
many useless desert locations we can fit in here to
boost the sales hype'. But with GO GATE, I was soon
inside the city.
wandering about for a while, I discovered a location
with a well. Hmm, I'd better look at this. EXAMINE WELL,
quoth I innocently. I DON'T UNDERSTAND 'EXAMINE'
came the grumpy reply. The same response occurred
when I typed SEARCH. On trying to LOOK WELL, I was given
a response. What sort of adventure is this I thought?
It just doesn't understand good, classic English adventure
vocabulary. Anyway, after taking a leisurely stroll
round the other locations, I thought I'd might as well
try other words to see how helpful the adventure could
be. HELP should at least elicit a polite response, even
if the program won't be actually helpful at any given
point; don't bother here, all you get is I'M CONFUSED.
This is typical of this adventure and many like it.
If the program is confused, God help the player.
graphics in The Scroll of Akbar Khan are extremely
poor, they are constructed unimaginatively using the
inbuilt Commodore graphics characters. The adventure
itself is a boring one, lacking in depth, vocabulary
and action, and really just isn't worth the money.