Seas of Blood
(Adventure International, 1986)
Reviewed by Pug
You are the captain of the pirate vessel Banshee. Together with your band of seasoned cut-throats, you must scour the lands of the Inland Sea, searching for treasure. The game opens with you and the crew out at sea. As you sail around, you’ll come up against other ships, or you may find land and hopefully a port to dock at. There are many ports to visit, each full of mystery and adventure with some well drawn graphics depicting each location. This is an entertaining text adventure that’s full of twists and turns to keep you busy and alert. Fans of the Fighting Fantasy book that this game is based upon will not be disappointed.
You are working in your research laboratory in Frobton Bay when an urgent call comes through from Commander Zoe Bly at the underwater Aquadome; it is being attacked by a mysterious monster! You and your companion Tip must travel to the Aquadome in your submarine, the Scimitar, and defend it from the monster, but there may be a traitor within the ranks of the crew at the Aquadome... This was the first of Infocom’s illustrious range of text adventures to be marketed at children, and it turned out to be the only one. Hints are given to you on a regular basis, and they’re not very subtle, either. At a result, even beginners to the genre of text adventures shouldn’t have much trouble completing it. Despite this, I rather enjoyed playing it while it lasted, and the almost arcade-like section where you guide the Scimitar out of Frobton Bay is an interesting innovation.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾
I used to be quite a fan of Adrian Mole when I was a teenager, but this game is rather disappointing. Much of the humour and content that was in the book is retained here, and some new events have been added to make things more interesting. You don’t actually get to do much; all you do is read Adrian’s short diary entries and make the occasional decision from a choice of three responses, which affects your score. You start at 40% and your score increases or decreases as you make the right or wrong decisions. You can try to obtain as high a score as possible, or alternatively, you could try to turn Adrian into a thoroughly annoying character and aim for a low score! The graphics are horrible and garish as well, and the game is really an ‘adventure’ in the loosest sense of the word.
See also: The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.
Le Secret du Tombeau
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
Can you retrieve a mythical gemstone from the Aztec tomb of Axayactl and succeed where many previous explorers have failed? This is a fairly standard maze exploration treasure hunt that is viewed from a top-down perspective. The graphics are colourful and cartoony, albeit rather simple, and while there’s no music, there are some decent sound effects. When you open a door, you’ll sometimes find yourself dying nearly instantly from a hazard on the other side, with no time to react. You can also explore underwater passages, but you can only remain submerged for a short time before you drown. To make things even more frustrating, you only get one life, so if you die – and you will do so very often – you have to start over again. Frequent saving is recommended!
La Secte Noire
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
Someone from the Black Sect (the English translation of the game’s name) has entered the village of Issegeac, killed your grandfather, and stolen a book of spells which belonged to him. Can you retrieve the book and save Issegeac from another curse? This is a text adventure, but like many French text adventures, none of the rooms have descriptions, and you must rely on guessing what objects to perform actions on by looking at the pictures – and many of the responses are unhelpful. How long would it take someone to guess that you must press a branch to reveal a secret passage which doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere in the game? Thankfully, it gets better from that point onwards. Apparently this is regarded as one of Lankhor’s classics, but I certainly don’t agree.
See also: La Crypte des Maudits.
This is an original game in which you use a seesaw to catapult bricks into the air, in order to knock out some insects which appear from two turrets of a castle. Erm... just play the game, OK? Another larger insect throws bricks on to the seesaw one at a time, and you must push them into the right position so that the next brick that lands on the seesaw will throw them into the air. You have to be careful that you aren’t thrown into the air, and if a brick lands on you, it will hurt! The graphics are colourful, and it’s a nice idea for a game, but it’s too difficult to complete even the first level.
You are an adventurer who has learnt of the mysterious treasure of Eldorado, hidden in the temple of Mozteca deep within the jungles of South America. You must travel across marshland, mountains and jungles to reach the temple, fending off attacks by piranhas, eagles and even fire-breathing dragon spirits! Once you’ve found the entrance, you must explore the heavily guarded temple and locate the treasure. Unfortunately, as with many Spanish games, the graphics are very colourful, but I found it too difficult to make progress. The various enemies you encounter drain your energy too quickly and some of them are seemingly impossible to avoid. To make things worse, if you lose a life, you are usually sent back several screens, which is often very annoying.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: jgonza (part 1), jgonza (part 2).
This is one of the classic games, because there is no other game like it. You are placed on an artificial landscape which is guarded by the Sentinel, and you have to reach his position while avoiding his withering gaze as he rotates slowly around his plinth. However, you can’t actually move; instead, you have to absorb the trees that are scattered around, and use them to create robots that you then transfer yourself to. You can also create boulders and place the robots on top of them to reach higher ground. Oh, and there are 10,000 landscapes to master... This is a truly absorbing game (pun intended) with astonishing graphics, but it takes a lot of time to learn – you’ll need a lot of patience and thought to get through it!
In 2075, the Strategic Defence Initiative has become reality, and the first satellite is being developed. The designers of the satellite need to test it, however, and they have built a very, very small robot which can explore inside the computer. You control this robot, which has to activate all the switches in the computer. It’s an isometric exploration game which should instantly remind you of another, better known game. Most rooms contain hazards such as monsters to avoid, and spikes which you may need to jump over if you want to progress. The graphics are good, although some of the colour schemes are horrible, and the robot moves fast as well. Overall, it’s a nice game which will keep fans of isometric games like this one happy.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: Amstrad CPC World.
Sgt. Helmet Training Day 2020
(The Mojon Twins, 2020)
Sergeant Helmet’s comrades are planning to send him on his toughest mission yet, but in order to prepare him for it, he has to undergo a gruelling training exercise. This consists of eight tests, which include rescuing hostages and finding detonators and using them to destroy enemy computers. Some of these exercises are held at night, while others see you attempting to reach your goal without any ammunition. Naturally there are many obstacles in your way – enemy soldiers, barbed wire, and forcefields – but Sergeant Helmet has no fear! As with most of The Mojon Twins’ releases, this features cute, colourful graphics and some pleasant tunes, and it’s fun to play and is challenging without being overly difficult.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: Amstrad CPC World, Saberman, XeNoMoRPH.