Change of address.
For the benefit of any of my fans who are still reading this (Sid and
Doris Bonkers only – the other two have gone out to rob a bank, so that they can
buy Pluto boards), here is my new address:–
__ ________ ______,
And now it is software review time!
In line with my current policy of megalomania, I propose to review 96K of
programs in one go. The programs are all by Level 9 Computing, of High Wycombe.
As you may have noticed, 96K is three times 32K, and I have been playing three
adventure games, each of nominally 32K size. These run on Nascoms with Nas-Sys
and at least 32K of memory, but they also work on my system, under the control of
my fairly famous MONITOR.COM program. This is because sensible software authors
always use the standard Nas-Sys way of calling the necessary monitor routines,
rather than accessing the screen memory directly. In fairness, I should point out
that the Syrtis adventure also works perfectly on systems with MONITOR.COM
instead of Nas-Sys, which I forgot to mention in my review of their program.
The programs are called “Colossal Adventure”, “Adventure Quest” and
“Dungeon Adventure”. They are supplied on very good tape, which loads with no
bother, apart from the volume being so high that it endangered the VU meter
needles on my tape machine! Documentation is provided with each game in the form
of a small book. Also included is a stamped addressed envelope which you can use
to request a free hint. This is a fine idea, although they warn that if you ask
for too much the replies may be somewhat cryptic.
The first of the three games is a fairly standard implementation of the
original cave adventure, in which you have to fetch all the treasure out of
Colossal Cave, and bring it back to the hut in the woods. This is almost the same
in its topography as the Syrtis version, with the exception that a few objects
are in different places, and there is a picnic area in the woods that can be
surprisingly dangerous, if you behave anti-socially! The program does not give as
full a description of some places as the Syrtis one, and does not ask you if you
want hints. The authors say that this gives them room for an extra 70 locations
in the cave, which they refer to as the “end-game”, and it could well be so, if
only I could find them! I still don’t know how to procede beyond the infuriating
“Plover Room” without falling down a pit. When I eventually resorted to the
practice of copying the program into the screen memory, to see what words it
would let me use, I found that about 2K at the end consisted of the “a-code”
source from which the program was compiled. There are more spelling errors in
this program than in the Syrtis one, although they may well have been corrected
in later versions.
“Adventure Quest” starts out in the same forest as the previous program,
and you can even find the grate that used to lead to Colossal Cave, but you can
no longer get down there. The idea this time is to find a nasty character called
Agaliarept (etymology obscure, as they say in dictionaries!) and do him in. Of
course, it just isn’t that simple; you can’t even begin to think about attacking
him without doing a lot of exploring, and finding the necessary weapons. I am
still getting a lot of fun out of this program, and seem to have found about a
third of the locations there are supposed to be. I have had considerable problems
with a model lung-fish that lurks in one location, and think I have found an
original way to cheat the giant sand worms that trundle around in the desert. So
far, I am still getting rotten scores, and am nowhere near beating Agawhatsit. I
have even resorted to drawing maps, which purists amongst the adventuring
fraternity would no doubt frown on, unless the program said that they were
carrying a pencil and paper!