STOW THEM cutlasses, marlinspikes and other marine miscellania and break out the laser rifles and vacuum suits. The new Marie Celeste from Atlantis is no square-rigger. Instead of topgallants and royals she's got ion-pulse plasma engines and double declutch hyperdrives. Perhaps she set out from Titan on an asteroid mining run or preyed off the freight haulers that head out to Mercury. Who knows? All you have to go on as you catch her in your scanners is that she's been abandoned, adrift in space. As you draw closer you can see the lolly Roger painted on her plasteel hull.
No cause for worry. You're no angel either. The fancy space yacht you 'borrowed' on Sirius IV has run into some bother - as usual the dimethium crystals have got damp, or whatever normally happens to them when they go duff. The main engines are up the spout and the nearest motorway telephone is 12 parsecs away. Your only hope for survival is to board this mysterious space hulk and find some new crystals to power up again.
This then is the plot for Atlantis' latest budget adventure release. There are three aims to the game. First, 12 treasures await your discovery - things like booster spice (remember Trader?), diamonds as big as your fist, elixirs of immortality and the like secreted about the ship. As well as collecting the loot and returning it to the utility room near the main airlock you've also got to find your dymethium. And, finally you must unravel the mystery itself - what happened to the pirate crew?
The game is Quilled and attractively presented with economical and fast graphics, Patched in to appear with the text. Very little filling and shading is used so they draw quickly and don't interfere with the game. A definite bonus - the effect is similar to the pictures in Subsunk.
Your first impressions are of a high-tech environment. The sliding doors are operated by card-locks - though there are other locked doors which won't respond to the card you can find fairly early in the play. Storerooms yield useful items like laser rifles, and treasure. There's also a locked safe which may well contain some of the answers you're seeking.
Why the laser rifle? Well... the ship may have been deserted by its human occupants but nobody bothered to tell the androids. At least one of them still patrols the corridors. It'll throw you in the brig unless you can vapourise it. But to do that you must first find a card to unlock the hatches to the storeroom, and get the rifle. You may find that you're just too big to fit into some places where you know you need to go. Check your inventory and you'll see that you have an atmosphere tester. If the readings are good you probably won't need your bulky space suit.
The descriptions are fairly straightforward, mainly relating to corridor directions and room information. Nevertheless, this is an atmospheric caper. The ship is quite complex to get around and there's a fine variety of locations - ranging from the messy mess to hydroponic gardens, and officers' quarters.
This open feel to the game combined with a non-linear plot, makes for a neat snappy little adventure.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
The Marie Celeste of this adventure is a deserted pirate spacecraft orbiting a nearby planet. You board the pirate ship with three main objectives - to find the treasures hidden aboard, locate the energy crystals with which to replenish your own ship depleted fuel supply, and to find out what became of the vessel's crew.
As you begin to explore, it soon becomes apparent that although, at first, the ship seemed deserted, you are not alone. Eventually a two metre high android appears, hypnotises you, and throws you in the brig. Your first problem is to figure out how to escape.
Once you have regained your freedom, a means must be found to keep it as sooner or later that android will be back. The solution may eventually come as a shot in the dark!
One or two unusual items have their home aboard the ship. What would you make of a picture hanging in the captain's cabin? A holographic image of his mother, a sight so ugly that even the most seasoned pirate would be space sick! Not that the crew quarters are any better, as the smell in there is enough to turn your stomach over.
Treasures are found in the most unusual places. Obviously the crew's mutual distrust of each other caused them to hide their valuables where they hoped no one else would find them. But even so, where has everyone gone
Described as a graphic adventure, Marie Celeste has only crude graphics, but the game benefits from fast execution.
The other unusual aspect of the game is its ability to accept whole sentences as commands. This feature is not documented, and caused me quite a headache with one problem, until I discovered its existence.
On a final note if you've played Strange Odyssey by Scott Adams, you may experience a little Deja Vu - there are some striking similarities.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB