Derek Brewster’s Adventure Trail


It's hard to get through any day without having a laugh. Humour comes from reading the strip cartoon in the newspaper on a morning, hearing the gossip in the pub at lunchtime, or perhaps simply chuckling in wonderment at how someone can keep churning out a program so fundamentally boring as Newsnight every evening and get away with it.

In software, humour is the flavour of the moment. Arcade games with flapping toilet seats have given way to the medium where humour can have full rein, within the copious text of the adventure. I suppose the first humorous adventures came from Runesoft (with Spoof) and Delta 4 with Return of the Joystick. Denis Through the Drinking Glass was an hilarious send up of the PM's hubby while a little later the Lever & Jones team were serving up their first satire entitled Hampstead, noteworthy for its cutting humour. Their follow up, Terrormolinos, describing a less than fun-packed package holiday in the sun, wasn't as subtle but still got all its digs in at the right places. It seems more and more people were looking for something beyond the cliched dragon bashing and universe saving. Fergus McNeil's Delta 4 had a chart success with his Silversoft-marketed Bored of the Rings, a spoof on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Adrian Mole has the sharpest comments of them all, and what's more, is very well-written having borrowed much from the super book by Sue Townsend. 1986 will bring along a lot more humour, of that we can be sure.


An increasing number of companies are using their own loading systems for Spectrum games. The aim of these systems is to make the program almost impossible to copy. A system in common use at the moment is centred around the idea that programs which load at high speeds are more difficult to copy. The sad point about this idea is that the programs are also more difficult to load (and for precisely the same reasons).

One of the beauties of the Spectrum is its tolerance towards all manner of programs when it comes to loading. Any average cassette player can do the job. Not so with these new fast loader programs; a player needs fine tuning facilities to load them. Recent examples of games using curious loading systems are Never Ending Story, Mindshadow, Runestone and Lord of the Rings. The first three use fast loaders while Lord of the Rings has a curious system whereby it does use the normal Spectrum loading speed but the first six parts are irrelevant it seems, and the computer must ignore three sections before the program actually starts to load. The least you would expect is a warning yet all you get is a directive to consult the Spectrum manual. Do this and you would conclude the game wasn't loading. If my experiences are anything to go by I can see these companies suffering from a high number of returns.