Countdown to Doom (85%, Issue 52) had you trying to escape from the inhospitable planet Doomwangara before your damaged spaceship corroded away to nothing. You've just settled back into ordinary life, flying the odd routine mission, when an unexpected distress call comes through on your intercom. An ambassador has been kidnapped by a group of renegade robots. Unless you reach her in time, she is Doom ed.
The planet hasn't changed much since you were last here. Its climate is erratic and its terrain encompasses a wide variety of different geographical features. Thick jungles abut treacherous swamps, dark tunnels lead out into a world of poisonous fields, alkaline lakes and acid seas and in the midst of it all is a strange and half-familiar artefact.
Sudden death is a constant possibility in this bizarre and surrealistic land. One false step and you could be dissolving painfully in a shower of acid rain, sinking into quicksand or chomped into a thousand pieces by a set of monstrous granite teeth. As if that wasn't enough, the planet is crawling with ecosaurs, allodiles, pteromorphs. grobblers and montipythons. They're all pretty keen on the odd pound of human flesh and must be treated with the greatest care and respect. If you do end up plummeting, disintegrating, dematerialising or sinking to an unexpected death, the program sometimes gives you the chance to pretend that you haven't. Magically you reappear at the location previous to your nasty accident and continue, a much wiser and (hopefully) better man/woman.
Proceed far enough and you cone across a unique and unusual four-legged friend. Talkative and reasonably helpful, he makes a welcome (and humorous) change from the singularly antagonistic tone of the rest of the planet. As man's best (and only) friend, he comes in particularly useful when solving some of the characteristically fiendish puzzles. Governed by a general, if sometimes implausible, logic they are quite hard to grasp at first, not least because of a confusingly large number of red herrings.
If you've played Countdown to Doom, you're definitely in with an advantage; huge pieces of moving landscape and initially obscure connections between seemingly abstract objects won't seem that unusual. Baffled beginners can always seek help from the inbuilt hint system and keep saving to disk. It's definitely worth persevering; there's immense satisfaction to be gained from solving an offbeat problem that's been bugging you for days.
A no-nonsense parser accepts complex sentences, EXCEPT and ALL but no pronouns, adverbs or EXAMINE commands, and doesn't really merit the inflated price. Unlike the other Topologika games I've reviewed, this one is not a rerelease, yet its only significant difference lies in a slightly less blank response to the EXAMINE command. It's not an improvement that really justifies the extra three pounds.
Minor quibbles aside, Return to Doom has enough material to fuel hours and hours of intriguing play. It recreates the atmosphere of the original Doomwangara game without overlapping too much in terms of content and its unusual puzzles provide an interesting change from some of the more main-stream adventures around. If you're after a challenge, have plenty of time and a bit of cash to spare, contact Topologika at FREEPOST, PO Box 39, Stilton, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE7 3BR.
Topolgika continues its +3 support with this follow-up to the earlier Countdown To Doom, which unfortunately looked to me to be just what it was - a slightly updated version of an adventure several years old. This new one's a definite improvement though, and at £12.95 for a text-only adventure that almost fills one side of the disk (and leave the other side for your saved games) it certainly gets a bonus mark in the value-for-money category.
Author Peter Killworth has come up with some entertaining problems, and it's the problems that'll decide whether this game appeals or not as there's no attempt to create a convincing atmosphere, such as you get in a Magnetic Scrolls game for example. You might describe its games as novels and Killworth's as 'whodunnits'.
The game takes place on the very strange planet of Doomawangara, where you've been sent to rescue an ambassador who's been kidnapped by renegade robots. The minute you know you're in a Kilworth game - one or two moves in any direction and you'll find an object or a problem, and there are six directions to move in! Go north and you face the killer Montipython, south and there's a barred door, northeast are aromatic plants that fox your sense of direction, and so on. The game's certainly crammed with puzzles, although they do spread out a little bit more as you get into it.
One thing that's spoiled Topologika's games in the past has been the constant instant death routines, that come without warning. Here, although death still lurks round many corners, you do usually get a hint that something nasty might be about to happen, giving you a chance to save your game, and the author's also incorporated his own version of the 'OOPS' command. When you die he sometimes (but not always) pops up to ask you if you'd like him to pretend you didn't just do what you did!
You still need your wits about you, when it comes to solving the problems. I liked the way in which you kill the Grobbler monster at the bottom of Scintillating Shaft, and how you pass the trap that's next to the spongy area. Killworth's definitely got an inventive mind, and it's good in this game to have a chance to enjoy it, instead of being constantly killed as before.
If the problems prove too much for you there's the usual HELP feature incorporated, which runs to 88 questions, and a improvement this time is that you can also ask what use any particular object is for. A nice touch, that. In fact an enjoyable game all round, and well worth thinking about for +3 adventurers.
|Value For Money||8/10|
Spectrum +3 Diskette: £9.95
The sequel to Countdown to Doom involves a return to the inhospitable planet. This time, whilst flying through the universe, you receive a Mayday call detailing the crash landing on Doom of four people, one of which is the Ambassador of Regina. They request immediate rescue and you, being the hero, cannot refuse. A safe landing precedes your second adventure on Doom.
Instant deaths abound yet again, although on occasions you get the chance to take back a move should you make a silly mistake - walking north for example!
From the landing area, puzzles and early retirement await your every move. Mouth-like caves which crush you when entered are to the west, a life-squeezing Python lurks in the jungle to the north (as do odorous flowers which prevent your passing) and a metal door to the south blocks your way. To the east the ground consists of a spongy substance which makes for interesting effect when objects are throw around on it. A key is to be found to the North East but it is guarded by a baby Boogatiger whose parents and grandparents think ill of your trying to pick it up.
The eventual direction to head in is east all other puzzles need to be solved before progress is possible.
Consisting of alien puzzles and places which should keep you thinking for some time, Return To Doom is a worthy sequel.
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