megagames in a row for Magnetic Scrolls, but hardly surprising as this
is definitely top-of-the-range Spectrum adventure stuff with only the
likes of Gnome Ranger and Knight Orc as rivals. Plus-3 owners will be
able to gloat at now having Guild Of Thieves and Jinxter, both unavailable
for the kid brother machines.
Inside the bright blue box, which reminds us that 'Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud', what do we find? We find a 3" disk with a game on it. We find a beer mat advertising Moose Bolter beer, and a compo that gives four people the chance to win every Magnetic Scrolls game for life. We find some simple instructions, a sealed envelope and a copy of The Independent Guardian, essential reading for Guardians everywhere, with news and views of leading Guardians like Len Pouch, Len Pisht, Len Moron and Len Wossname. Len Wossname is very concerned about the level of luck in the land of Aquitania. If the charms of Turani aren't reunited soon with the legendary Bracelet of Turani then luck could completely run out, the Green Witches will take power, there'll be plagues of bats and we might even see the collapse of the ferg. So what's he doing about it? Well, here's looking at you, kid! But what is a Guardian anyway? Play the game and you'll soon find out. Hardly will you have got off (or been thrown off) the bus in Neverending Lane than you'll encounter the Guardian and be given your task. Neverending Lane seems to be just that, incidentally. I've walked about 64 locations in both directions and still not come to the end of it. How did they do that? Back to the Guardian, though. Don't expect a cloaked figure with a black pointed hat and a touch of the scrolls. This one wears a herringbone overcoat (a red herringbone?), complains about the wife and kids and is given to philosophical mutterings like "What's the point of wossname, immortality, if you can't get a decent bit of cheese in your sandwich, narmean?"
The text of Jinxter's been written by that very funny Punch writer, Michael Bywater, who had a hand in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and is also working on another adventure for Infocom. So you can expect a lorra lorra laughs, many of them in incidental routines and in answers to some of the weirder inputs you might try. But even ordinary responses can raise a smile too. Examine the key-ring and you're told it's a clever little device that allows you to lose all your keys at once instead of one at a time. One location is Dead Fly Wood, so now you know where all the flies go in the wintertime. From Neverending Lane you can enter your house, and a good search here is essential. You can find a sock lying around, and you know that sooner or later you're just going to have to put a sock in it, whatever 'it' is. Try playing with the dragon in the bath, too. It's not long before the phone rings and it sounds like your neighbour's in a spot of bother. So you rush round to his house, but of course he's not there. So instead you have a good nose round, discover the foul cheese in the basement and the fly bath in the garden (like a smaller bird bath ). The first major problem, assuming you can sort out a few minor ones early on, is the canoe in the boat-house. If you can plug the hole, you can paddle your own canoe on the lagoon, and even cross to the village green and visit the pub and the baker's. It was round here I started to get a bit stuck after a couple of hours of pleasurable adventuring, but one feature of this game is that if you need a bit of help then in certain locations you can summon up the Guardian and he will solve a problem for you! This does of course leave you with another problem in its place (remember, Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud), which is that you're not told how the problem's been solved and you also feel your luck dropping - and you can't finish the game unless your luck is at the maximum level, but at least it means that if you're getting frustrated by a problem you can get past it, explore a bit more of the game, then go back to it later.
The Jinxter parser will be familiar to fans, although in fact it's lost one or two features from Guild. It'll still cope with most inputs - and then leave you frustrated 'cos it doesn't understand something simple. That doesn't happen often, though. What does happen often is that Jinxter leaves you laughing and scratching your head simultaneously. Yet another essential purchase for Spectrum adventure lovers - there's never been a better time for it. Nor for playing Spectrum adventures either. Narmean?