This is the sequel to "Out of the Limelight" and just as the first game, it is recommended to find the leaflet with the instructions online to get the backstory. However, the most important is probably the commands VOCAB and INFO. VOCAB tells you the required format for talking to characters.
This game takes place 3 years after the first game. You are still working as an actor and during a play you see Rosenberg on the balcony. But you killed him in the last game(?)!
Part 1 is mostly a detective game where you are looking for clues and travel between locations you discover are important. Part 2 has more the style of a "treasure island"-game where you are trying to bring down a criminal gang who hides in a monastery on an island. So you will have to avoid being killed by thugs etc.
The game has a lot of good, fair puzzles but as always with old PAW games you should expect some guess-the-verb situations and that the game can be unwinnable without telling you.
Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 6/10)
The PAW parser can handle more than 2 words but mostly 2 are sufficient but not always. Sometimes I wonder why a command did not work but I suppose adding more possible commands would eat up RAM too fast. For instance, the game apparently understand the word POUR. But in a special situation I was going to pour something, the required command was PUT OBJECT1 ON OBJECT2 even though the game often responds to such commands with: You cannot wear object1. When you get used to playing PAW games, you get a better understanding of these problems and can usually figure out the right command within a reasonable amount of time.
Atmosphere (Rating: 8/10)
The descriptions are good considering it is a PAW game with a limited amount or RAM. You don't need a lot more text to get in the right mood.
Cruelty (Rating: Cruel)
As most PAW games from this period, you may overlook an object you will need later and you can't go back and get it. Instead you must load an earlier save or restart.
Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
Some very nice puzzles, all very fair. Most were of medium difficulty plus the added difficulty of guessing-the-verb sometimes.
Overall (Rating: 8/10)
Certainly one of the better PAW games from when homegrown 8-bit text adventures where at its best.
I was intrigued by the title of this game in the 90s Adventure Probe but couldn't play it because I did not have a ZX Spectrum. Now, many years later, a C64 version is available (made with DAAD) so I finally get to play this one.
In this comedy text adventure you control the electron Edmond as he has crashed his orbital in the city of Electronz. The game is a puzzle fest seen from the perspective of electrons, where protons and neutrons are buildings and a graviton is a dog breed etc. So a lot of funny references to beginner particle physics. I am certainly a beginner in that field. Some of the puzzles are based on light physics or word-play but don't expect the physics to be close to the real world. For instance, Edmond is called an electron and starts out having positive charge, which makes him a positron and therefore antimatter but he explodes if he touches antimatter, not the other way around. But such details are not important as this is a comedy and should not be taken too seriously.
Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 6/10)
I played the DAAD version, not sure how close it was to the PAW version. Some untraditional choices but the author makes up for it by guiding the player in several situations. For instance, there were sort of "containers" in the game but you couldn't "PUT OBJECT IN OBJECT". Instead you might EMPTY OBJECT IN OBJECT or FILL OBJECT WITH SOMETHING, stuff like that. But the author tells the player upfront about the commands CHARGE and EMPTY and the fact that SEARCH and EXAMINE are not the same. Some guess-the-verb situations along the way, which probably is unavoidable for such a "big" game, considering it is an 8-bit single-load game.
Atmosphere (Rating: 7/10)
Funny writing which fits the game theme.
Cruelty (Rating: Tough)
I noticed a few places where the game can become unwinnable but it will in most cases be obvious that what you did was irreversible.
Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
The game is crammed with puzzles, and there were several good, fun puzzles. A few of them involved word-play but they were solvable to me except for on one, despite that English is not my mother tongue. As with most old text adventures, finding the objects are part of the game so remember to search and examine everything.
Overall (Rating: 8/10)
Everything considered, this is a good old-fashioned puzzle fest with good puzzles and some funny writing.
(Spectrum version reviewed - legally available from http://www.zenobi.co.uk/ )
Jack Lockerby was one of the most prolific homegrown authors on the ZX Spectrum and c64. Luckily the ZX Spectrum versions have been made available by John Wilson, who owned Zenobi Software and the right to distribute these games.
The Mines of Lithiad is definitely one of the better ones. As it is made with PAW, it is often possible to use 4 words, similar to e.g. PUT BALL IN BOX or GET PEN FROM BASKET. However, whenever two words are sufficient to describe the action, you should stick to two words.
The plot: Cavilan, the last surviving dragon, has chosen you to rescue her egg from the clutches of the Master and his band of Orcs.
Once you are past the introduction location, the game starts out with a large area with mostly empty locations. Though several of these have the same location description, it is not at all a maze, as the map is very logically laid out. I guess the main purpose of this map layout is to make it a bit challenging to solve a specific puzzle within a time limit. Here, I should add, that there are a few real time elements. These real time elements are very rarely a problem, especially as you can save as often as you like quite quickly with a free ZX Spectrum emulator like Fuse. So even if you don't like real time elements in IF, I recommend that you try this one.
And if you dislike inventory limits, you should know, that you can find a solution to that quite early in the game, so that isn't a problem either.
Once you are past the big opening area, the map becomes more standard with lots of fun puzzles, some original as well as a few classic puzzles.
I never had serious guess-the-verb problems but I needed a hint for two puzzles. They weren't unfair, so with more patience, you might be able to solve it without hints.
Very entertaining, certainly one I can recommend.
(Adventuron version reviewed)
Briefly explained, on behalf of his friend Bulbo, Algernon accepts a challenge in Castle Toidi. He must locate as much treasure as he can and slay as many creatures as possible, including a dragon.
This comedy is the longest game by John Wilson I have played so far (most have been short) and also the most entertaining. It doesn't have a lot of locations, but it is still crammed with puzzles. You score points for most of the puzzles and if you complete the game, you can get up to 250 points, though there is a less optimal ending with fewer points. Out of the 250 points, I only regard two puzzles of 15 point each, as unfair, as they require some hard verb-guessing and phrase guessing: (Spoiler - click to show)The verb "unravel" and the phrase "feel 'direction'" (e.g. "feel south"). And if the player types help, the former is given in a coded message.
I was stuck in a few more situations than the two mentioned above and consulted a walkthrough some more. But looking back, the puzzles were all fair except those two. With more patience, I think most experienced players could solve most of the puzzles. Though I try to avoid looking at walkthroughs, I usually end up consulting a walkthrough a few times (more if the game is really hard) when I play puzzlefests anyway, so to me it wasn't a big deal. What I do find important is, that I get to solve most of the puzzles without hints, which I did.
I enjoyed both the whimsical writing and the varied puzzles, which ranged from easy to harder and more clever. Overall, a fun game, and I am very much looking forward to playing the brand new sequel "Return to the Castle" written with Inform (more specifically PunyInform).
(Reviewing Adventuron version)
I have enjoyed previous episodes but this game is far too hard for me. I enjoyed it briefly, but I quickly got stuck and took a look at the walkthrough. I got one step further, then I got stuck for a long time again, and looked at the walkthrough again and so on. The solutions to these sub-puzzles (both actions and exact verbs) are way beyond what I would be able to figure out without a walkthrough.
Add to this:
* The game can be unwinnable even if the player does nothing wrong (random element)
* The verb USE is normally not understood but suddenly required in one situation.
* The game has a two-word parser but it turns out that in specific situations, the game accepts a four word sentence to be split into two commands:
(fictive example below is not in the game and doesn't happen when using the verb PUT)
>ON SHELF (SHELF wouldn't have worked, ON SHELF required)
Some might see these "problems" as challenges. For me, this isn't what I am looking for when I play older text adventures. Still, I intend to try more episodes in the series, since I liked the first episodes.
EDIT: Gareth Pitchford informed me that the important command WORN was given in the instructions with the original game, so my criticism that you are never told what you are wearing isn't really valid. Moreover, if you play several of the games in the series, it will become apparent that the command type LOOK 'direction' (e.g. LOOK SOUTH or LOOK DOWN) is often required. Thus, this might not be a problem if you played another episode in the series first.
Note that this is a review of the original game, not "The Cats Choice-Cuts Edition" which is slightly longer. I played the Adventuron version. The version you choose to play may influence the commands you can use. Here, the game understands both L (redescribe location) and X (examine).
This game has a few gameplay issues:
1. You cannot examine yourself. EDIT: If you are aware of the command WORN, this isn't a problem
2. You are supposed to: (Spoiler - click to show)LOOK UP but as you are not given any reason to do so, it is quite unlikely the player will try that. EDIT: If you have played other games in the series first, You have probably learned that LOOK 'direction' (e.g. LOOK EAST or DOWN) might be a good idea.
At first, I wasn't aware of the points above, so I found the game to be a bit unfair after having looked at the walkthrough. So perhaps the puzzles are perfectly fair (hard to estimate after I completed the game by looking at the walkthrough). Anyway, it has entertaining parts even if you need to look at a walkthrough. With the information given at the top of this review, you will probably be able to enjoy this game.
This is a quick one-room escape game where you are a balrog (who seems to be a fun little fellow) locked inside the loo. It is a comedy with a few mandatory puzzles and a few optional puzzles. I managed to complete it almost without hints except for one guess-the-verb puzzle, so I consulted a walkthrough on CASA Solution Archive for that. Looking back, I should have been able to figure out the verb by paying attention to my inventory: (Spoiler - click to show)The verb "unfold"
There are many versions available, including the ADVENTURON version, which should be playable in most browsers (html-file). There might be a few differences between the versions. In old British games, typing R was the standard for redescribing the location description, not LOOK or L. Besides that, just keep in mind that it is a two-word parser, just as the popular Scott Adams games. And in some versions you might have to type EXAM or EXAMINE instead of just X.
It was a quick but fun little game, so I intend to try the sequel too.