Derek Brewster’s Adventure Trail


It really can be fun to watch the microcomputer games world from a removed vantage point. I’ve touched upon this ground before but let’s just have a little look at the latest manifestation of an age-old marketing dilemma.

If you have a listen to your local commercial radio station (for we must take the commercial airwaves as a suitable comparison), you will notice music programs concerned with Folk, Country & Western, and perhaps Jazz, tucked away at the end of the day’s schedule. Most of the music on these programs is specialist interest with only the occasional well-known tune coming up. However, when a well-known tune does come up, you think no less of it for being on a specialist program, you just accept it for being the highly pleasant material it is. No-one thinks any worse of Sting for producing a jazz-inspired album, and it certainly was commercial, as its Number 1 position in the American charts testified.

Now, back to computer games, and we have another outbreak of the ‘don’t tell them it’s an adventure we want it to sell like an arcade’ syndrome. This mental angst has it that adventure games sell far less than arcade games BECAUSE they are not called arcade games, and takes no account of the facts which only relate how very poor adventures sell next to none and good adventures sell very well, it just so happens, due to the likes of the Quill, there are more opportunities for the uninitiated to produce poor adventures.

The syndrome is sad because many adventure games really do sell in tremendous numbers; Heavy on the Magick is a true adventure and it has maintained a healthy chart position for months, if it continues to do well no doubt it will cease to be an adventure and slide over to join Lords of Midnight in the ‘successful strategy’ camp. Redhawk, from Melbourne House, was deemed too important to be classified as an adventure, and so was reviewed as a mainstream game. The game can not be counted a chart success and so the attempts to confuse games players, and to ensure no adventurer plays it, have presumably succeeded.

Dark Sceptre is the latest non-adventure about to hit the streets and the latest release not to take into account the public’s total disregard for such classificatory pedantics — they will buy a good game no matter what the title. Let’s hope for less text and graphic products, and more adventures.