Shard of Inovar
by Les Hogarth, Clive Wilson
Bulldog Software [1]
Your Sinclair Issue 27, March 1988   page(s) 88

Yet another of those flash little icon-controlled adventures, in the style of Zzzz and Kobyashi Naru, and filled with funny names in a heroic storyline. You don't want to read it all, I'm sure, so here are the edited highlights: long ago on earth, plague every winter, natives grumpy, elves called Eharin turn up, create stone of Inovar, protects people, geezer called Arthemin looks after it, bad sort, loses it to Kiron, he bungs it in a chest, enter Varwield Secunda (that's you, dingbat), must find Inovar... okay, yah?

To perform this mighty task you can use the keyboard or a Kempston or Cursor-controlled joystick, and I recommend that adventurers blow the dust off their joysticks (it's quite legal) as that makes the icons much easier to control.

There are 26 icons around the sides of the screen, a graphic window on the left, an info window on the right, a scrolling info window at the top and your location and message text at the bottom. Icons cover moving, getting, dropping, saving and loading (including RAM), climbing, swimming, killing, examining, using - you know the kind of thing. With some of the icons, such as the spy-glass for EXAMINE, you must then highlight the word in the text that you want to examine, and if there's a response at all from the program then it's printed on the screen.

One of the icons is INVOKE, and if you can't imagine what an icon for INVOKE looks like then it doesn't matter as an explanation for each icon is printed up in one of the info screens as the cursor highlights it. INVOKE can be used with any of three Rituals that you've been given, and some information about these is given on the cassette sleeve.

Although this type of adventure looks quite impressive, it's unsatisfactory because one uses more a process of elimination than investigation. Use all the options in each place and in the end you'll hit upon the answer. Icons also tend to respond too quickly - keep the fire button pressed for more than a milli-second and you've missed a screen of information that might have been vital. And for all its flash presentation, this one still suffers from the age-old 'sudden death' routine, which most adventurers hate but lazy programmers love.

This is one of the better examples of this type of game, I thought, and I know some readers do enjoy them very much, but it's not to my taste. I lost interest when I encountered a Laryx, whatever that is, on the mountainside, and before I could retreat it butted me off the mountain to my death. I later discovered that you have to mount the beast. Well, what can I say? I hope you'll be very happy together.

Value For Money7/10
Personal Rating5/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 67, October 1987   page(s) 50

Many centuries ago when the Earth was still evolving, a plague known as 'adventure game blurb' fell upon the land. Every month new adventures would appear with ever more awful and tedious plots. Shard of Inovar has the lot.

An Elfin race called Eharin from the realm of Mantierion made the Inovar which is an elfstone which could defend the world from the plague called Nagroma.

You play Varwield Secunda and you've got to get the Shard which is in bits and there are people called Sunguat. Kiron and Rimarlion and..., listen I can't take any more of this stuff where people make silly pixie names up. (GT's instant pixie name creator - take the names of two household cleansing products eg Ajax and Vim, mix them together and what do you get - Vijax, thirteenth dark lord of the inner circle of chaos. So enough of all this sillyness. Let's have heros called Chris and Maureen.)

Anyway all that stuff was pretty irrelevant because the actual game Shard of Inovar is really good. Some of its ideas are genuinely original and some of the puzzles are quite inventive. Not only that but it's on budget too.

Shard of Inovar is an icon-driven adventure. Most of the previous icon-driven efforts have been pretty unsuccessful. Choosing whether and what to Take, Drop, Examine or whatever by whizzing around the screen highlighting icons representing the command takes at least as long as typing Get Frog, or whatever.

The clever stuff in Shard works like this. You move around the usual grim magical landscape using icon commands but when you come across something interesting eg The evil tower of Domjax (Domestos and Ajax) and the text screen says 'Ahead rises the evil Tower of Domjax' - you choose the Examine icon, another text window says 'Examine the ..', then you highlight the word from the descriptive text using a cursor and check out the tower. Since it is almost always the descriptive text for a location that tells you that there might be something to investigate this is an obvious but very effective idea. Can't think why nobody thought of it before.

There are graphics for most locations but they occupy less than a quarter of the screen and are little more than decoration.

Rated purely in terms of difficulty of puzzles and inventiveness. Shard of Inovar also scores highly. From the start location it takes only about three paces in any of the available compass directions before you're in deep trouble. And some of it is not only deep but squishy too!

I hated the blurb, the plot is utterly tedious, but Shard of Inovar has some good puzzles and some genuinely original command input ideas. On budget it's definitely a goodie.

Label: Bulldog
Author: Clive Wilson, Les Hogarth
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Summary: Budget adventure with lot's of good points including tricky puzzles and an inventive icon command system.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB