Riddler's Den
by David W. Harper
Electric Dreams Software
Crash Issue 22, November 1985   (1985-10-24)   page(s) 147,148

This is Electric Dreams' first release (that's Electric Dreams as in Rod Cousens, not the other one) and features a brand new, up-and-coming star in the form of Trunkie the Manelephant. Trunkie has decided to set off on an expedition to find the legendary Great Golden God Gregogo. Who? Ah 'Tis he who is as yet unseen.

Riddler's Den forms the first part of Trunkie's quest and is an arcade adventure in which he searches the Riddler's Den for a Golden Tusk and the exit. Oh, and while he's wandering around the Den, Trunkie wants to collect and bank some treasure to fund his next jaunt.

Once found, the tusk has to be taken to the Final Room, which is in fact the room you start in! This isn't so easy since there are many nasty creatures blocking some of the entrances to parts of the den and thus further progress. A spider, gargoyle and three dragons are just some of the deadly denizens that need to be negotiated. So how do you pass them? By solving riddles and using objects correctly, that's how.

The chambers in the Den are shown from above while all characters are shown from the side similar to Sabre Wulf if you like. Scattered about the Den there are numerous weird objects that Trunkie can pick up and store in one of his four pockets. Some things can be USEd to good effect when placed in the fourth pocket, such as a pillow that allows you to rest and gain extra energy. Others should be dropped at the appropriate place and time to give the required result. To pick up an object you need to manoeuvre Trunkie up against it and press the key which controls an empty pocket. The object will be transferred to Trunkie's collection. Objects can only be USE'd if they are in Pocket 4 and sometimes an object in Pocket 4 can be used on or with an object in one of the other pockets.

Objects which Trunkie has picked up are displayed at the top of the screen, next to a counter which keeps track of how much of the quest you have solved. A flask indicates how much energy Trunkie has remaining, and a digital clock running in game time ticks off the hours . . . and you have a limited number of days in which to complete the tasks allotted.

Most of the chambers in theDen contain mobile nasties goblin like creatures which materialise shortly after Trunkie enters and dodge around the floorspace. Larger ogre creatures live in some rooms and contact with ogres or goblins saps Trunkie's energy some of them are quite intelligent and home in on you, while others manage to block your path very effectively.

If you spend too long in a room, a homing plant will turn up at the entrance Trunkie used and send out a spore, which bounces round in the room, sapping energy on contact. This is the Bloodhound Trap which gets very nasty if you are in a room with one of the three dragons that feature in the game.

Careful reading of the rhymes on the inlay will give some clues to the puzzles that have to be solved in the game, and a penchant for puns and lateral thinking will also come in handy. Some of the twists and turns in the game are cunning, others corny and all of the riddles in the game will no doubt seem obvious once they are solved.

Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Protek and cursor
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: bright and cheerful
Graphics: colourful, and tidily done
Sound: spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 49

'You can't really say that this is a completely original game but there are some aspects of it that are quite strange. 'Pyjamarama-ites' will probably like this one as there are a lot of problems to be solved in a medium sized playing area. Graphically I would rate this game as above average. The characters are well animated and nicely drawn; sound is poorly used there are only a few spot effects here and there. Generally I enjoyed playing Riddlers Den but I couldn't see myself playing it next month.'

'There are a large number of arcade adventures available on the Spectrum, with even more being released each week. Riddler's Den isn't one of the most impressive of this genre to appear, but then it's not exactly one of the worst. It might have been a better game were it not for the fact that the riddles are a little too obscure at times. They're not in any great abundance either, but I suppose their complexity makes up for this. Other than the riddles there isn't much to keep one enthralled for long, there being little in the any of real action. I find it hard to become stimulated for any great length of time on the strength of solving a few, occasionally illogical, puzzles and I feel that something more is needed to make the game worthy of an honest recommendation.'

'Personally, I like the way that Electric Dreams have gone for the idea behind the game rather than revolutionary programming techniques with this one. The graphics are as good as in earlier Ultimate games and some of the puzzles reveal a great sense of humour - bereft in other companies' more recent attempts. Some people may dislike this apparent 'throwback' to the early days, but if they bother to give the game the benefit of the doubt and actually play it for a while, they could find themselves becoming addicted. Lots of lateral thinking puzzles to keep you busy on winter evenings!'

Use of Computer77%
Getting Started78%
Addictive Qualities76%
Value for Money72%
Summary: General Rating: A puzzling game. Easy to get addicted to...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 21, December 1985   page(s) 50

Dougie: Riddle me this. My first is in arcade and my second is in adventure. What am I? (D'you really want me to answer that? Ed), Riddlers Den, of course, this is an arcade game that plays like an adventure.

So, instead of rushing about like a headless chicken through loads and loads of rooms (that all look much the same) and collecting as much treasure as you can before you run out of energy, you'll have to get the ol' grey matter into gear. Otherwise you're not going to get far at all. Not that you can't rush about like a loony if you want to - there's even a bank where you can stash your loot.

Your task is to get your mitts on the Golden Tusk, but don't expect to come close without a lot of brainache. And just to make life interesting, there's a full complement of goblins and ogres, dragons and gargoyles, plus a raging bull and a giant spider.

Just like in a true adventure you can only carry a certain number of objects that can then be used only at certain times or places. Overall, Riddlers Den is both absorbing and frustrating at the same time - it's just a riddle why other games can't reach this sort of standard! 7/10

Ross: Who could resist playing the part of a cute little elephant in search of the Golden Tusk. Great graphics make for a great adventure. 8/10

Rick: Good riddlance to this! It had me going flat out on my tasks for the tusk. 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 45, December 1985   page(s) 25

WHAT HAS it got in its pockets? The answer is important if Trunkie the Manlephant is to find the Great Golden God Gregogo.

You must find the golden tusk. There are four pockets in your elephantine skin to carry four objects. Some of those need to be placed in specific pockets to work.

All the riddles are solved by placing the right objects in the right locations, and to do that you must read the diabolical attempt at verse.

Unfortunately, some of the rooms are off limits until you find certain objects. The game map is split into three sections. The first, in the middle, contains the objects to get into the right-hand section.
Matching objects and locations is an irritating business and it will take you hours to work your way through the right section of the program.

Riddler's Den is easy to play but difficult to solve. The graphics may look conventional - in the Atic Atac mould - but the game has less of the hack and slash that Ultimate has in its products. It is a mind game with arcade overtones and will appeal to those who have had enough of continual killing.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Electric Dreams
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 50, December 1985   page(s) 29

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Electric Dreams
PRICE: £7.95

What's a Manelephant? Find out by loading up the first game from new software house Electric Dreams. Trunkie - that's the Manelephant's name - sets off on the first part of his quest to find the Great Golden God Gregogo and needs to enter the Riddler's Den in order to find the Golden Tusk - and get enough treasure to set off on his next adventure. Is there a sequel coming or what?

Riddler's Den is a solid arcade adventure with nice graphics and pretty good game play. You must pick up objects as you go - using them to solve puzzles.

The game comes with a clue-filled poem all about The Den which you need to read to get the most out of the game.

Overall, Riddler's Den is a good debut for Electric Dreams - not terrifically original but a high quality product.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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