Adventure Trail

DEREK BREWSTER has been an ardent adventurer for some time, and not content to merely play the games, he put his programming talents to good effect and produced one of the earlier successful adventures for the Spectrum, Velnor’s Lair, now marketed by Quicksilva. He has also written Starclash and Codename Mat for Micromega. In this issue he kicks off his new regular column for adventurers.

You stand on a high platform overlooking a spectacular subterranean waterfall. The air is sweet and fresh and the cool refreshing spray pours new life into your tired limbs. But this is no place to relax. A warrior from the last expedition lies slain here and you still haven’t discovered the key to the northern labyrinth. Stealthily moving east you enter a large cavern of life-like, almost human, statues — everyone a masterpiece, they must have been moulded by the greatest of craftsmen. But who is he? And who collected them in such a remote and dangerous place? Progressing north your eye is caught by a shimmering light. Moving closer you find a gem-studded trident. The gems alone must be worth thousands! Your thoughts are disturbed by footsteps behind you. Slowly turning you hear an insidious hissing sound. Suddenly the words of the Goblin Chief all make sense. Medusa!

Can you escape from Medusa or will you become the latest victim to adorn her home? What is the significance of the trident? Is it the key you have been searching for or only a cruel decoy?

Adventuring is an anachronism.

You are comfortably seated in a cosy room at a microcomputer and all creature comforts are close at hand. Yet you delve ever deeper into an alien world of dark, dank dungeons and man-eating monsters. Sitting at your micro you are passive and relaxed and yet your mind is in turmoil as you struggle in a seemingly impossible predicament. Often in adventure the explorer has an active, decidedly physical, role.

Although an adventure can often seem to be an endless string of puzzles it somehow seems incongruous to have a computer itself in an adventure. Now that space walks and inter-planetary travel are contemporary issues many adventures find their setting in pre-history or are difficult to place in any time. Surrounded by plastics and man-made fibres in the real world, your only aids in adventuring are harvested from Mother Earth Herself; iron swords are thrust into beautifully embroidered leather scabbards, warmth is assured with a thick woolly fleece, and brightly-burning torches are used to seek gold coins. Once again adventures offer us something not readily available in our modern world — hidden treasure that has never seen a deposit account.

It is my conjecture that good adventures are like good novels — they must create a world that is both consistent and believable.

This column is for the exchange of views, ideas and comments, and criticism of games you have played. You may have read our views on the games you have played — now let us know what you think. I hope the column will prove a useful forum for sharing hints and tips. After all, we have all at sometime wished that someone would give us the smallest clue to escape from a prison cell or to cross a bubbling swamp.

So if you are stuck for your next move with any adventure let us know. If we cannot answer your problem we will ask other readers for suggestions.

Large numbers of games are being released each month and the numbers are increasing all the time. Many call themselves adventure games, but this term is becoming broader all the time. After all, no one would call Planet of Death or Snowball arcade games just because they are set in space, yet many companies call games adventures purely because of a fantasy setting.

In this column I hope to review most of the new adventure releases, revealing what type of game they are and distinguishing those that are worth buying from those that are not!