Finally, Keith had a look at Cuddles, another of the 8th Day series, and after being cut by a "broach" on his Nanny's dress and finding he had to refer to it as a "broach", and that all subsequent text referred to it as a "broach" he says he could not bear to bring himself to continue with the game, let alone review it!
"Games Without Frontiers" are for the 48k Spectrum, priced 12.50, and available from 8th Day Software at 18 Flaxhill, Moreton, Wirral, Merseyside L46 7UH.
Spectrum Cassette: £2.99
Perhaps the less said about these two the better.
In HRH the player has mistakenly been sent the Queen's giro cheque but luckily he's a bit of a patriot and decides to deliver it to Her Majesty in person.
The player comes across Prince William, Lady Diana, Prince Charles and most other members of the Royal Family; each one is placed in a ridiculous situation or at least made to look stupid, and this cheap Spitting Image-type humour grates painfully.
There's no sense of adventure in HRH and turning the computer off was a great delight - or rather it would have been if I hadn't had to load Cuddles from the other side of the cassette and play it.
Cuddles puts the player in the booties of an obnoxious baby whose sole aim in life is to find a new arm for his teddy bear (clearly he believes in the right to bear arms).
This game is decidedly not funny and is full of mistakes - it confuses 'brooch and 'broach', for example. And even when the baby has thrown his nanny's brooch on the floor he can be scratched on the face by it.
Cuddles has no realism - the baby cannot scream, cry, eat food or do any of those annoying little things babies do. And there's no challenge, the player needs to 'guess the word' to get out of certain locations and is given no scope to experiment with people or objects he comes across. Yet another utility-written adventure goes to potty...
MAKER: 8th Day Software
PRICE: £1.99 each
Pure text adventures seem to be becoming a threatened species of late. There seems to be a general feeling that to sell, a program has to contain graphics. Doesn't matter how tacky, how irrelevant to the plot line, how much memory is wasted, we gotta have them pictures. A good counter to what I, for one, see as a pernicious trend is this collection of six pocket-money programs from 8th Day, a new Merseyside outfit.
The packaging is understandably minimal, a plain black wrapper in every case, although you do get a natty plastic rack if you purchase all six. There's nothing cut-price about the quality however. as far as I could see, each of these is a well-thought out, properly plotted adventure. Better still, every one is on a different theme. The nearest to the hackneyed old Sword-and-Sorcery schlock is Faerie, but this rests more on Celtic whimsy than conquering barbarians. The vital thing is to keep the fairies happy, one way being to swap a human baby for their changeling, a bit naughty this.
Four Minutes to Midnight seems to be the most advanced program, and pits you against a post-catastrophe world. The object is to rebuild civilisation from the ruins by assembling a team of capable and technically-skilled people. To my mind this goes one better than The Hobbit in terms of human interaction, and displays genuine originality. Cuddles is a bit on the cute side - you are a bored toddler and you have to escape from your cot and get past nanny to sample the delights of the outside world.
Ice Station Zero owes something to the dreadful Alistair Maclean story - for Zero read Zebra - it's a thriller set on the Arctic Icepack. The obligatory space adventure is represented in the form of Quann Tulla in which you have to get a crippled starship working again. In Search of Angels is a Fleming-style spy story full of the obligatory souped-up sportsters full of gadgetry.
A lot of ground has been covered here, all six packages taken together cost the same as two normally-priced Spectrum programs, but represent months of playing time. This is the first time I've encountered software at a reasonable price which sacrifices nothing in the way of quality. Surely this, and not peculiar security devices, is the answer to piracy?
MICRO: Spectrum 48K
SUPPLIER: 8th Day Software, 18 Flaxhill, Moreton, Wirral, L46 7UH
Cuddles is subtitled "the game for BIG kids", though it's more innocent that you might have thought. You are a baby who escapes from the nursery with your one-armed teddy and set out in search of its missing arm. Eventually, after a fantastic adventure through a magical world, you return to the familiar surroundings of the nursery to be comforted by your nanny.
You'll meet a host of famous characters from nursery rhymes, fairy stories and children's books - the mad Hatter, Little Miss Muffet with the spider, the Snow Queen, Cinderella and more. You can even take a trip in the space shuttle and travel to the moon, which turns out to be made of cheese.
The game sustained my interest, as I never knew who or what I would meet next on my travels. The fairly generous descriptions are also concise but atmospheric: "You stand before a drawbridge leading up to a great portcullis. A clockwork soldier stands outside his sentry box He looks resplendent in his scarlet uniform."
Some more care should have been taken in editing the text, however. I spent some time trying to get away from nanny because I'd spelt a word as it ought to have been spelt and not in the way that the program expected it to have been.
One nice touch is that if you return to the nursery after escaping from nanny, the game is brought to an end with "You didn't move fast enough. Nanny says it's time for bed..." Then the Spectrum plays a few bars of a lullaby and the game is over.
I'd recommend Cuddles to anyone who doesn't want to grow up. After all, it's a third of the price of other Quill-designed adventures and should provide a few happy hours far from reality.
Eight Day Software
Now to what must the adventurer's bargain of the year. Eighth Day Software have released a series of Ouilled text adventures for the 48K Spectrum, and each of them only costs £1.75. You'd be forgiven for thinking that they can't be much cop for that sort of money but you'd be dead wrong. The adventures are good quality with interesting themes.
For example Cuddles has you as a precocious baby trapped in a playpen, guarded by a nanny and with nothing but a bowl of sloppy food and a building block to experiment with. In Ice Station Zero you're on the trail of an international terrorist who is holed out in a polar research station yet holding New York to ransom.
Other titles in the collection are Quann Tulla and, the two most difficult, Faerie and Four Minutes to Midnight. Available only by mail order from Eighth Day, 18 Flaxhill, Moreton, Wirral, these adventures are excellent value for money.
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