/~~\               /~~~\               /\           /~~~\
       \ \/               | |> |             //\\         |
       /\ \               |  _/             ||__||        |  ~~\
  The  \__/ociety for the |_|reservation of ||  ||dventure \___/ames
				ISSUE # 4
        Edited by G. Kevin Wilson (whizzard SP@G

All email addresses are spamblocked -- replace the name of our magazine
with the traditional 'at' sign. 


	Let your mind drift a moment.  Some soft music would be appropriate,
perhaps Jimmy Buffett, Three Dog Night, or Beethoven.  The swells of the
music rise and fall.  You find yourself aboard a three-masted schooner,
cresting the waves in grand majesty.  The roar of the water beneath the hull
of the ship is relaxing, and strips away your worldly cares.  Breathe in the
salty spray that mists before the ship, and grip the old wooden deck with
your bare toes.  Your snug sailor's uniform warms you somewhat, the good,
rough pants slightly damp from the salty spray, but they can't quite remove
all the chill of the season.  It is refreshing, rather than uncomfortable.
Grip the rough, salty ropes, and pull with all your might.  The high whisper
of silk alerts you to the raising of the small sail just above you.  You wrap
the rope around a nearby wooden peg and make it fast.  All in a day's work.

	There, now pop back with me to reality, if you don't mind the
interruption.  I'm sure you're curious what the heck that was all about.
Well, it represents a tiny little reader exercise for those of you who like
to write.  I would like you to transport, in 150 words or less, the reader to
a place of your choosing.  No explanations or apologies for quality are
allowed, I just want the little 'breather'.  Don't neccessarily use my
'breather' as a model.  There are lots of ways to write such a thing, and any
of them are just fine to use.  There are no particular rewards for doing this
exercise, except a bit of mental wrestling, and seeing it in print if it's
among the better ones I receive.  More likely, it'll be among the ONLY ones
I receive. :)  So, if you're the slightest bit writer oriented, give it a
try.  Some quick hints:

  1.) Effective use of at least 4 senses helps quite a bit.

  2.) Second person point of view removes distance from between the reader
      and the setting.

  3.) Short and powerful, rather than long and droning.

	And, well, if you haven't noticed, this is remarkably similar to a
room description in a text adventure.  Surprise.  Now you only need about
another 199 to go for your first game. :)

				G. Kevin Wilson

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR--------------------------------------------------------

KEY TO SCORES AND REVIEWS----------------------------------------------------

Consider the following review header:

 NAME: Cutthroats                                PARSER: Infocom Standard
 AUTHOR: Infocom                                 PLOT: Two Seperate Paths
 EMAIL: ???                                      ATMOSPHERE: Well Done
 AVAILABILITY: LTOI 2                            WRITING: Good
 PUZZLES: Good                                   SUPPORTS: Infocom Ports
 CHARACTERS: Not Bad                             DIFFICULTY: Medium

	First, you'll notice that the score has been removed, and replaced
by one or two word ratings.  These are pretty arbitrary, and should allow
more freedom to the reviewers.  The EMAIL section is for the e-mail address
of the game author, not the reviewer.  AVAILABILITY will usually have either
Commercial ($price), Shareware ($price), or Freeware.  If the commercial
price varies in stores, then it will just say Commercial.  If it has been
released in the LTOI collection, this line should say so.  Lastly, if it is
available on, the line should add GMD.  (Demo) if it's a demo
version.  The body of the review hasn't changed.

When submitting reviews:  Try to fill in as much of this info as you can.
Also, scores are still desired along with the reviews, so send those along.
The scores will be used in the ratings section.  Authors may not rate or
review their own games.

SPAG accepts reviews of any length, letters to the editor, the occasional
interesting article on text adventures (no reprints please), and even just
ratings for your favorite game, if you don't have the time to do a full
review.  Please though, at least send me info for each game you have rated
equivalent to the review header for Cutthroats, above.  All accepted
materials will be headed by the submitter's name and e-mail address, unless
you request that they be withheld, in which case the header will read as

NEW GAMES--------------------------------------------------------------------

	This issue brings text adventure fans several great new TADS games to
play.  Veritas, Waystation, and John's Fire Witch are all among the ones that
I know of.  They are all available for anonymous FTP on, in the
appropriate game directories.  John's Fire Witch in particular has received
rave reviews, even though it is a short game.
	[Speaking of appropriate game directories, check out my Whizzard's
Guide to Text Adventures, which should be following this issue sometime in
the near future.]


From: "Magnus Olsson" 

NAME: Another Lifeless Planet And Me With No Beer
					PARSER: Pathetic
AUTHOR: Dennis Drew			PLOT: Not very original
EMAIL: ???				ATMOSPHERE: Absent
PUZZLES: Standard, uninteresting	SUPPORTS: IBM

One of the most important skills shareware authors have to learn, at
least if they expect to earn any money, is that of promoting their
products - it's a tough world out there, tons of shareware gets
published every year, and if you don't promote your program it's not
very like to get noticed.  

Dennis Drew, the author of this particular game, seems to have learned
his lesson well in this regard.  Not only the accompanying
documentation, but also the starting - and ending - screens of the
game itself are full of superlatives describing how interesting, fun,
high-quality, professional, and generally amazing it is - as are all
of Mr. Drew's programs; one of the documentation files is a catalog
listing his entire "astounding software line"; "from heavy-duty
business programs to incredibly enjoyable games", all described in
terms such as "incredible", "astounding" and "terrific".  

According to the docs, one of his programs was rated by COMPUTE
Magazine as "One of the World's Best 101 Programs". I haven't tried
that program, but from my experience of this game, as well as of my
other sample of his products (included in the distribution was
Compu-Nerd, "a highly professional and technical program designed to
discover the age-old question, 'Am I a nerd?'", which after asking me
some rather leading questions proceeded to feed me a few screenfuls of
platitudes like "You are one of the millions of people who have found
word processing to be an incredibly valuable comptuer function", and
then rated me as a "Minor Nerd" - thanks a lot!), I can only conclude
that Drew is right: it _is_ incredible. 

But back to the subject of this review: the game, which starts with
the friendly greeting "WELCOME to another one of my incredibly
interesting and logical adventure games".  Does it live up to the
great expectations the author goes to such lengths to build up?
Unfortunately, any user naive enough to take Drew's documentation at
face value is bound to be disappointed.  The situation was aptly
described 2000 years ago by Horace: "The mountains are in labour; an
absurd little mouse is born". 

This doesn't mean that the game is a failure.  Indeed, had it been
written in 1979 or so, for the PET or TRS-80 or some other early home
computer, it would probably have been a great game. After all, there
are quite long room descriptions, a graphic picture for every room
(character graphics with the incredible resolution of 15*15 or so),
and colour (a particularly tasteful colour scheme in light blue, dark
blue, yellow, green, and bright magenta)! 

However, the game was actually written in 1989 for MS-DOS, so we'll
have to apply slightly different standards of greatness. 

Even by those, more modern standards, the game has a few points to
recommend it.  The plot may not be very original - you're stranded on
an alien planet and have to find a way home - but at least the
concept's been proven in hundreds of other games.  Just as the author
claims, the game really _is_ logical, in the sense that (in Drew's own
words) "everything (...) has a logical and understandable purpose
behind it".  The author clearly knows how to write (i.e. his spelling
as well as his grammar are quite flawless).  There are even some jokes
thrown in - rather a lot of them, actually. 

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud within it, and the above
doesn't quite suffice to make this game as great as the author claims.
In fact, it doesn't suffice to make it good, or even worth the time it
takes to download it.

To start with, the parser is absolutely pathetic - clearly the worst
parser I've ever seen in a non-freeware game.  It's not only strictly
limited to two-word sentences, but its vocabulary is extremely limited
as well. There are no adjectives, which explains the fact that the
first object you encounter is a "small-stone", that can't be referred
to as just "stone".  What's even worse is that the parser doesn't
understand _anything_ that you can't do in the current game state, so,
for example, if you try to go north in a room where the only exit is
south, you get the message "I do not understand that. Is that
logical?" (of course, the latter question must be rhetorical, since it
can only be answered with a resounding "no"). 

Also, the prose being grammatically correct doesn't make it good, or
even interesting.  Even though the genre is the cheapest kind of space
opera (complete with icky monsters and blaster-wielding aliens) which
usually gives lots of opportunities for atmosphere and excitement,
both these elements are conspicuous only by their absense.  The
attempts at humour don't improve things; at their best, the jokes
aren't very funny (and, no, Virginia, telling four variations on the
same bad joke in the first thirty rooms isn't four times as funny as
telling it once). At their worst -- well, let me just quote the
response you get when you try to walk north from the initial location,
to see what is blocking your way:

"Trivia question:  Do you know what this is?      8P

That's the head of a dead astronaut laying on its side with its tongue
hanging out.  That's what you look like after a really giant, huge,
icky, nasty-looking monster standing there munched the rest of you!!

Have a nice day.      ;)     <---that's a wink and a grin!

                      (munch munch munch munch....)  <---- sound effects"

So for "Another Lifeless Planet And Me With No Beer" - do I have to
continue?  I'll just conclude by saying that somehow, I wish that this
game had _not_ been logical; then it might at least have been
interesting (see my review of "Space Aliens Laughed at my Cardigan" in
this issue of SPAG), and perhaps good for a laugh, too. Unfortunately,
it is neither.  Of course, if you happen to like humour like the
example above, and if you think that good writing, atmosphere and
logical coherence only distracts you from the puzzles, then this game
may be worth trying. If not it is best avoided.

The prospective IF author would probably also do wisely to avoid
Gamescape, "the ultimate stand-alone adventure writing system", "the
incredible system that allows you to design and then play adventure
games", that was used to create "No Beer" (a fact which is almost
impossible to avoid noticing, since every time one exits the game one
is treated to two promotional screen pages about Gamescape).  The
registration fee for Gamescape is $95 + $5 S&H.  Considering that TADS
is about half that amount, and Inform is free, and even more
considering the parser and user interface of "No Beer", the
decision about which system to use should be a simple one indeed. 


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Arthur: Quest for Excalibur  PARSER:  Infocom Advanced
  AUTHOR:  Bob Bates                  PLOT:  Very Good
  EMAIL:  ?                           ATMOSPHERE:  Very Good
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI2-CD             WRITING:  Very Good
  PUZZLES:  Very Good                 SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Very Good              DIFFICULTY:  Average

	In Arthur:  The Quest for Excalibur, Infocom's final text game, you
play the part of the boy Arthur.  In the space of a few days, you must
develop the traits necessary to lead England, and challenge Lot, a local
chieftain, before he is crowned King.
	The parser is Infocom's best ever, though unfortunately this is the
only game it was used in.  You can change your viewing mode with the touch of
a function key.  The bottom half of the screen is like a standard text game,
but the top changes, depending on your mode.  One mode shows you a graphic of
your area.  Another gives you an onscreen map, a third shows you your
character's development, another constantly shows you a description of your
area, and another gives you a constant report on your inventory.  You can
change modes without expending a turn.
	The graphics (in graphics mode) are helpful, but in true text game
fashion they are not necessary.  No puzzles require recognizing a clue in the
graphics, and indeed one of the modes, is text-only mode, in which the game
resembles one of the Infocom classics.
	While the overall purpose of the game is to do things that will
develop your personal abilities to the point that you are worthy to rule
England, the main quest of the game is to acquire certain magical quest items
that will allow you to get past the Red Knight to where the Lady of the Lake
lies enchanted (Everything you always wanted on a bier...).  Only with her
help can you recover Excalibur from where Lot has disposed of it.
	Early in the game, Merlin will give you the ability to transform
yourself into a variety of different animals.  Many of the puzzles cannot be
solved while you are in human form.
	There are few save/restore puzzles.  Puzzles that you would be
unlikely to get the first time around generally give you multiple
opportunities to solve.  There are not many "guess what the author is
thinking" puzzles, but there are a few.  When you try to read the writing on
the wall in the ivory tower (for instance), only a burst of inspiration will
help you along.
	Like several other Infocom games, Arthur has onscreen hints.
However, Arthur's have a new twist, in that you are not given the entire clue
menu at the beginning.  To prevent you from reading them too far ahead, clue
questions are added to the menu as they become relevant to your current
situation.  Sometimes, the clue will tell that you cannot solve a specific
puzzle with the information and resources that you have at hand.
	Arthur was the ideal Graphic Interactive Fiction game, with graphics
that helped set the mood and aided gameplay without taking over the game from
the text part.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

NAME:  Ballyhoo                            GAMEPLAY:  Infocom
AUTHOR:  Jeff O'Neill                      PLOT:  Good
EMAIL:  ?                                  ATMOSPHERE:  Very Good
AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 1                      WRITING:  Very Good
PUZZLES:  Well Done                        SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
CHARACTERS:  Colourful, Distinctive        DIFFICULTY:  Standard

	In Ballyhoo, you begin as a typical circusgoer.  While wandering
around, you discover that the daughter of the circus owner, Mr. Munrab
(Barnum spelled backwards) has been kidnapped.  Anxious for a little glory,
you decide to look into the crime yourself.  This turns out to be fortunate,
as the detective Munrab engages turns out to be less than competent
(surprise).  Your search takes you on a tour through the underside of circus
	When I first played Ballyhoo, I strongly disliked it because of a
technical problem.  I got stuck about 3/4 of the way through.  When I found a
walkthrough of the game, I solved the problem, but found that I had done
something wrong earlier and had to restart the game.  When I did so, I found
that I could not get past a part I had gotten through without trouble
earlier.  I then postulated a completely false idea of what I must have done
accidentally the first time, and tried various ways to recreate it.  By this
time I was ready to throw the game under Monty Python's 16-ton weight.
	Eventually, I figured out what the problem was.  It wasn't a bug,
just one of those unfortunate things.  It would not give away any part of the
game to say that the command "WHIP LION" does not mean the same thing as "HIT
	Seemingly this game is plagued with bad luck, as when Activision put
out The Lost Treasures of Infocom 1, they inadvertently omitted one page of
the original documentation that gave the frequency for WPDL, an all-classical
AM radio station (1170 AM by the way).  This information is vital twice; once
in the middle of the game, and again at the very end.
	But if you can get past these glitches, you will find quite a nice
little game.  There are several characters, all well developed.  There are
everal amusing little responses and sidelights, such as when you try to get
the mousetrap, when you jump off the top of the cage, and when you are
standing in line for ice cream.  The game captures the circus feel in much
the same way that Hollywood Hijinx captures the Hollywood feel.  As an added
bonus, you get an all text blackjack game in the bargain.
	Ballyhoo is neither a classic, nor a "must-play", but it is an
enjoyable game well worth the time you will put into it, if you can avoid the
little land mines surrounding it.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Border Zone                GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
  AUTHOR:  Marc Blank               PLOT:  Well Interwoven
  EMAIL:  ?                         ATMOSPHERE:  Good
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 2             WRITING:  Serious but Light
  PUZZLES:  Very Good               SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Good                 DIFFICULTY:  Slightly above average

	Border Zone is another compartmentalized game, in the spirit of Nord
& Bert and Shogun.  Unlike Shogun, the chapters don't have to be played in
order, and unlike Nord & Bert there is no single concluding chapter that you
must earn the right to play.
	Border Zone involves the attempt to prevent an important assasination
in and around the country of Frobnia.  In Chapter 1, you play an ordinary
businessman, who has been given a document with the details of the
assasination, attempting to sneak it out of the country.   In Chapter 2, you
play the wounded agent who gave the businessman the document, attempting to
escape from Frobnia himself.  In Chapter 3 you play an American double-agent
attempting to prevent the assasination without blowing his cover.
	All three chapters are played in real time.  If you ponder your
moves too long, the story may go on without you.  This is both good and bad.
The puzzles are generally the save/restore type; although they are generally
logical and good, they are not the type that you are likely to hit on the
first time.  You have to learn from several failures before you hit on the
correct strategy.  This is fine for puzzle fans, but not so good for realism
fans (you can't RESTORE in real life).  However, the whole idea of doing the
game in real time seems to be geared towards pleasing the realism fans,
though this may not have been the best game to do it.
	The second chapter is the largest and seems to be the centerpiece of
the game, but I liked Chapters 1 and 3 better.  Chapter 1 is small and easily
mapped, but rich in detail, and quickly concluded, making it an excellent
introduction to interactive fiction.  Chapter 3 has some clever puzzles
(especially how you figure out which room the sniper is in), and like
Plundered Hearts, it has several different relatively successful endings, but
one which is clearly better than the others.  Blank does a good job of tying
in events from previous chapters, creating an interlocking "big-picture".
	The game is fairly light on gadgetry; featuring only an exploding pen
in Chapter 2.  I'd have liked a shoe phone and the Cone of Silence myself.
Still, this is Infocom's only spy story, and is quite a good game.


From: "Stefan Jokisch" 

NAME: Detective                         PARSER: AGT
AUTHOR: Matt Barringer                  PLOT: Strictly Linear
EMAIL: ???                              ATMOSPHERE: None
AVAILABILITY: Freeware, GMD             WRITING: Poor
PUZZLES: None                           SUPPORTS: AGT Ports
CHARACTERS: None                        DIFFICULTY: Very Easy

	In this game you play a heroic detective who has to find and
arrest the murderer of the mayor.  Surprisingly, the only commands needed
to solve 'Detective' are north, east, south, and west.  It is possible to
pick up a few items along the way in order to increase the score, but none
of these items has any effect on the story.
	To cut a long story short, the author made every mistake one can
think of; it is not necessary to go into detail.  After all, we should
not forget that Matt wrote this game with good intentions and he offered
it for free, so who are we to mock at his efforts?  Every computer store
sells a lot of expensive CD-ROMs which are no better than "Detective".


From: "Inigo Surguy" 

 NAME: Dungeon Adventure                     PARSER: Below Infocom Standard
 AUTHOR: Level 9                             PLOT: Collect the treasure
 EMAIL: ???                                  ATMOSPHERE: Good
 AVAILABILITY: See review                    WRITING: Good
 PUZZLES: Good                               SUPPORTS: PC (+Spectrum,BBC,etc)
 CHARACTERS: Good, but limited               DIFFICULTY: Medium

	Inspired by the history of Level 9 in SPAG 3, I got out my old BBC B
(8 bit British computer, ancestor of the Archimedes and RISC PC), and loaded
Dungeon Adventure. This is a fantasy adventure, set in a similar universe
to the original Adventure, where you play the typical greedy adventurer
in search of treasure. This time, you are looting a demon lord's tower
(after the demon's destruction in Adventure Quest).
	At the beginning there are a few unfair puzzles, such as the example
quoted in the Inform manual of carved lions above a doorway, in front of a
pit ("pride comes before a fall"), but the quality of the puzzles throughout
the rest of the game is excellent. The game is large enough to occupy anyone
for some time.
	Although the characters are not as advanced as those in the better
Infocom games (Witness, Suspect, etc), they are interesting and numerous,
including an argumentative sword, a helpful dwarf, two giants, an unhappy
will-o'-the-wisp and an army of orcs.
	I would recommend this game to anyone with a Spectrum emulator (or
even a Spectrum :), and plenty of time.
	This game was originally available for the 8-bit British computers of
the eighties, such as the BBC and the Spectrum. According to SPAG 3, it is
now available for ftp from in the directory /pub/zx/snapshots/a/
with filename for the graphical version and 
for the plain text. A PC emulator for the Spectrum is in the directory
/pub/zx/snapshots/z/ and called (Please don't email me about 
these; I've only used the BBC version and I haven't tried the emulator).


From: "Magnus Olsson" 

NAME: John's Fire Witch			PARSER: Excellent
AUTHOR: John Baker			PLOT: Linear
EMAIL: baker-j SP@G		ATMOSPHERE: Very good, Enchanter-ish 
PUZZLES: Standard, with a few nice touches
CHARACTERS: Few, rather simple		DIFFICULTY: Easy

It's a cold December's day, and you're visiting your old friend John -
or, rather, you would be visiting him if he were there; but he never
showed up at the pizza place where you'd agreed to meet, his apartment
is empty and unlocked, and you've got nothing better to do than spend
the night on John's living-room floor. The next morning, you wake up to
find that a terrible blizzard has cut off the house from the rest of the
world.  When searching the apartment, there's still no sign of John.
There is, however, a deep, mysterious hole in his basement, a hole which
turns out to take you straight into the middle of a conflict between
magical powers... 

This is the starting point of "John's Firewitch", a short (in the
author's words, "snack-sized") but extremely well-written piece of IF.
On the surface, this game isn't very remarkable: it's quite simple (it
took me about three hours to solve), neither the puzzles nor the story
are very original, the author doesn't seem to have any high-flying
literary ambitions, and there are no startling new innovations in game

Still, this is one of the best - perhaps _the_ best - shareware games
I've ever played; better, even, than most commercial games.  I'm not
quite sure I can put my finger on what makes it so good - it's always
easier to pinpoint what you don't like about something than what you
like - but "John's Firewitch" is simply very good workmanship; those
little irritating glitches and mannerisms that seem to be unavoidable in
non-commercial works are absent; the game is eminently playable (much
thanks to the excellent parser); the puzzles logical with satisfying
solutions; the ending forms a satisfying climax; the writing excellent
and free from mannerisms and bad jokes; everything just feels right. 

The atmosphere and style of the game are very similar to Infocom's
games, expecially the "Enchanter" trilogy, with the possible exception
of the beginning which shows a refreshing sense of self-irony (John in
the game being the author's _alter ego_). It is much smaller than a
typical Infocom game, though. If "Enchanter" is a novel, then this is a
short story. This very shortness may be a reason for the game giving
such a good impression. On the technical side, as one reviewer noted on, the small size of the game saves the author from
the complexity of large games (which tends to increase very rapidly with
game size). On the literary side, it's much easier to maintain dramatic
tension in a short work than in a long one; and this advantage is
enhanced by the puzzles being easy (but certainly not obvious!), which
keeps down the playing time. 

This reviewer, being a busy man with too little time to spend on IF, and
in addition being slightly disturbed by the recent trend towards
"simulationist" IF (where the authors try to provide a good simulation
of their literary world, complete with all objects, an attempt which
will only serve to overwhelm the poor player with useless information)
would certainly like to see an increase in the number of small but
well-written games like this. "John's Firewitch" is an excellent example
to emulate for prospective authors. 

And with authors like John Baker around, why should we mourn the passing
of Infocom? 



 NAME: The KORC Trilogy                          PARSER: Limited
 AUTHOR: AMF the Doomwatcher                     PLOT: Linear (ish)
 EMAIL: ???                                      ATMOSPHERE: Unique
 AVAILABILITY: Freeware                          WRITING: Brief, Preaching
 PUZZLES: Interesting, Moral                     SUPPORTS: Acorn Archimedes
 CHARACTERS: Weird but Shallow                   DIFFICULTY: Medium-Low

	It may (or may not) surprise you to learn that the KORC trilogy
consists of three separate games ("Welcome to the Kingdom of Relative
Concepts", "Return of the Timebringer", and "The Waking of AMF the
Doomwatcher"), the plot of all three being centred around one person's quest
(yours) against corruption in a world moderately similar to ours.
	Throughout this quest, you meet all manner of weird characters,
ranging from the author (who descibes himself as a "timid genius" in the
first two games), to Ergol the pi-reciter (whose life is devoted to reciting
pi), to an old guy who asks you to kill him.
	This last character sums up the atmosphere of all three games; the
author seems to be trying to preach a number of moral points at you.  The
only problem is that occasionally he has you do something that goes against
these teachings (like killing somebody).  Whenever this does happen,
though, the feelings of guilt that consume you (and I'm not being sarcastic
here) are a testement to how well the author is getting his message across.
	The characters, for all their weirdness, don't seem to have much
depth to them - apart from their purpose in the story, they consist only of a
few "fob off" statements (usually something like "I exist, uncorrupted.
Is that not enough?").  They certainly aren't as fascinating as the
characters in Scapeghost, for instance.
	The user interface is a complete washout.  Rather than multi-tasking
(as all good adventure games should), the games single-task in Mode 12
(80 columns by 32 rows, 16 colours, for those non-Archimedes users reading
this), although the colour scheme is at least bareable.
	The parser is just plain annoying.  It doesn't understand the normal
abbreviations for compass directions (N for North, and so on), and doesn't
even recognise the full compass directions (NORTH, SOUTH, etc).  Only
commands like GO NORTH will move the player around; this is extremely
irritating and there is no good reason for it.  To be fair, the movement
commands are stored on the function keys (so pressing F1 will move you
north), but this is no excuse.
	Despite their limitations, I actually found these games very
enjoyable, especially the third.  It didn't take me long to finish KORC 2 and
3 (although I did cheat and take a peek at the program code once or twice).
I personally found KORC 1 the most difficult, and it is probably the largest
(nothing to do with the presense of a character called Olaf the Fatty!).
	In the instructions, the author hints that a second KORC trilogy is
on the drawing board, and I certainly hope that this is true.  Until then,
the KORC trilogy is free and reasonably addictive.  What more could you want?


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Leather Goddesses of Phobos  GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
  AUTHOR:  Steve Eric Meretzky        PLOT:  Excellent
  EMAIL:  ?                           ATMOSPHERE:  Excellent
  AVAILABILITY:  Mail Order (maybe)   WRITING:  Excellent
  PUZZLES:  Excellent                 SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Very Good              DIFFICULTY:  Advanced

	In this risque imitation of 1930's pulp fiction, you are captured by
the Leather Goddesses of Phobos.  For some reason, you escape, and with your
trusted companion Trent/Tiffany, you tour the Solar System searching for a
collection of incongruous objects, which when put together will form a
	The game begins by patting itself on the back for the outraged
reactions that it will likely induce in old fuddy-duddies, though truth be
told it is not much dirtier than your average beer commercial (though it is
much more clever).  The game has three naughtiness modes for dealing with sex

     TAME - No sex scenes
     SUGGESTIVE - You're told that the scene is happening, but no more
     LEWD - Level of description about equal to a Harlequin novel

	In addition, Lewd mode has one or two 4-letter words, seemingly
thrown in out of some sense of obligation, as they don't mesh very well with
Meretzky's humour at all.
	The game wonderfully recreates the feel of 30's pulp fiction, from
the swordfight on the hull of the Space Battleship (without spacesuits,
naturally), to the Sultan and other colourful characters you meet on Mars, to
the delightfully contrived situation at the South Pole, to the marvelous
running gag concerning the lucky escapes of your faithful companion.  The
final scene where you try to assemble your machine while under attack by all
of the Leather Goddesses minions is one of the greatest moments in
interactive fiction, and one that would be utterly impossible to reproduce
with graphics.
	I generally enjoy games like Spellbreaker that spread the action over
a wide area, and Leather Goddesses has one of the widest areas of all, with
the action ranging between Venus, Mars, Phobos, Earth, and Saturn orbit.
	Leather Goddesses has some of the best freebies of any Infocom game,
including a 3-D comic book, 3-D glasses, and a scratch and sniff card.  It
was one of the five games made into a Solid Gold edition.  The Solid Gold
edition contains not only onscreen hints, but the ability to get through the
difficult catacombs maze with a single special command.  The game also allows
you to play as either a male or a female, depending on which restroom you
enter at the beginning.
	Some early editions of the game had a Lost in the Desert maze in
place of the Martian Desert room.  I have only heard of this edition, not
seen it, and if anyone has a copy, I'd love to see it.  The non-Solid Gold
editions of the game had a "Boss key", whereby you could bring a specially
created text file onscreen by hitting Control-B.  The file included with the
game was a sample screen of Infocom's Cornerstone database, the easy-to-use
productivity software that almost [Well, did.  Let's be honest. -GKW]
bankrupted the company.  Later Infocom games that used the same interpreter
also had the Boss key feature, though it was never mentioned.
	A sequel is promised at the end of the game.  This was released as
a graphic adventure in 1992 by Activision/Infocom, but this is already out of
print, and probably getting difficult to find.  LGOP2 promised yet a third
installment, but there is no word on this.
	All in all, Leather Goddesses of Phobos is one of Infocom's best

	[A few brief notes.  MINOR SPOILER, beware!  That boss key screen is
a real chuckle, and if you have the version with it, definitely read it over
once, just for yucks.  Here's the scoop on avoiding the catacombs.  As soon
as you descend into them, type $CATACOMB.  If it works in your version, you
will have skipped past one of the most insidious and evil puzzles in all of


From: Adam Justin Thornton 

 NAME: The Multi-Dimensional Thief      PARSER: AGT 1.5
 AUTHOR: Joel Finch                     PLOT: Crappy, on the whole
 EMAIL: ???                             ATMOSPHERE: Not bad
 AVAILABILITY: GMD, F                   WRITING: Kind of cute
 PUZZLES: ______                        SUPPORTS: AGT ports
 CHARACTERS: Cardboard Cutout           DIFFICULTY: ______

	The plot seems pretty standard.  You want to be in the Thieves'
Guild.  So you're tossed in a dungeon and have to escape, as your bizzarro
frat hazing ritual.
	There are early on bits stolen from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Robin
Hood".  I don't really know what else is here.  The game didn't keep me
interested long enough.  It looks like it's supposed to be just a bunch of
puzzles strung together.  The portable hole is kind of neat.
	I imagine if I were really bored and had a few hours it'd be an
entertaining diversion.  It's not bad.  The atmosphere is cute; the responses
are often somewhat amusing, if cliched and predictable.
	The parser is pretty atrocious.  Actually it's standard AGT fare, and
in 1991 probably wasn't that bad.  Now that we have TADS and Inform, its
limitations are both obvious and annoying.
	If you're really bored, give it a shot.  If not, play Curses instead.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It
                                      GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
  AUTHOR:  Jeff O'Neill               PLOT:  Very Good
  EMAIL:  ?                           ATMOSPHERE:  Excellent
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 2               WRITING:  Excellent
  PUZZLES:  Very Good                 SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Very Good              DIFFICULTY:  Standard

	Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It is a collection of
interactive short stories, all revolving around the common theme of restoring
the town of Punster, and based on the idea that you can alter the nature of
reality merely by engaging in wordplay with it.
	The concept is difficult to explain, so some examples from the game's
sample transcript may illustrate it without giving away any of the actual
story.  You wake up, knocking over your alarm clock and a glass of water.
The only way to avoid the debris is to get up on the wrong side of the bed.
Asked to mail your father's tax return, you discover you can't find it.  But
that scruffy guy in the corner with the IRS tee shirt, who you're told is
barely male can be transmogrified with the homonym "mail". The return isn't
stamped?  You can fix that by Spoonerizing your father's stone lamp into a
lone stamp.  And so on.
	To prevent this from becoming incredibly confusing, each short story
deals with only one specific type of wordplay.  The stories can be played in
any order, except for Meet the Mayor, which must come last.
	The parser is a bit better than the usual Infocom one.  Compass
directions and mapping are dispensed with entirely, as the Status Line
constantly lists all the areas that you can travel directly to.  As the maps
are generally small (one story has only two locations), the map can be easily
internalized in the player's mind.
	The puzzles are not the very best.  The nature of such a game means
that many of the puzzles will be of the "guess what the author is thinking"
type.  Also, since the puzzles don't necessarily build on each other, but
often stand separately, you may finish a story only to be told that there
were more things you could have done, and be forced to return later.
However, since ALL versions of Nord & Bert have on-screen hints, there is no
chance of getting permanently stuck.
	The real strength of the game is in it's Writing and Atmosphere.  The
mood created is delightfully surreal, and the constant clever descriptions
and responses make this one of the best "reading" text games ever produced.
Text game players like to argue that well-written text produces more
evocative images than graphic games do.  Nord and Bert goes beyond this, not
merely doing things BETTER than a graphics game could, but doing things that
a graphics game could never do at all.  Definitely one of Infocom's most
underrated classics.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Planetfall                   GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
  AUTHOR:  Steve Eric Meretzky        PLOT:  Excellent
  EMAIL:  ?                           ATMOSPHERE:  Excellent
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 1, Zork Anth.   WRITING:  Excellent
  PUZZLES:                     SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS: Excellent               DIFFICULTY: 

	n Planetfall, you start as a deck scrubber on a starship in the far
future.  When your ship is destroyed, your escape pod deposits you in a
deserted high-tech building complex on an alien world.  With the help of your
faithful robot companion B-19-7 (aka Floyd), you must discover what happened
to the people, and correct various problems before your time runs out.
	Planetfall was the first Infocom game I played, and still my
favourite.  Often billed as a science-fiction comedy, it really is not.
There are many amusing sidelights and funny responses from the author to your
failed actions, (one of my favourites is when you are looking at the planets
computer datafiles, and come across an Infocom catalog.  When you read the
description for Zork, Floyd looking over your shoulder tells you that he
played that game and solved all the puzzles...except for how to get into that
little white house) but it is not at all a straight comedy in the same sense
that Leather Goddesses of Phobos, or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
would be.  It merely feels like one because the game is constantly charming
you in one way or another.  Floyd, generally remembered as Infocom's best NPC
is useful for only three things in the game, but provides you with a constant
stream of amusing banter, from relating tales of the time he helped someone
find a lost paper clip, to passing along the latest hot gossip about Dr.
	Oftentimes text games fall into the syndrome of providing one and
only one use for each item in the game, so that if you have found a use for
an item you can throw it away, confident that it will not be called for
again.  Not so in Planetfall (and Meretzky games in general).  Several items
have more than one use, while others have no use at all.
	Planetfall's original edition contained Infocom's usual batch of
interesting freebies (I still keep the Stellar Patrol ID card in my wallet
mixed in with the credit cards).  However, it was also one of the games
selected to be redone as a Solid Gold edition with onscreen hints.  Get both
editions if possible.
	The IBM version of Lost Treasures of Infocom 1 contained an original
version of the program.  The Macintosh version of LTOI 1 contains the Solid
Gold Edition.  PC users who have Macintosh-using friends can of course try to
get a copy of the datafile from the LTOI1-Mac version, and run it off an IBM
	Planetfall was one of the games selected for novelization when Avon
Books put out a series of Infocom Books several years ago.  The novel version
of Planetfall is really a sequel to Planetfall (and Stationfall).  This book
(not written by Meretzky) was much closer to the Battletech universe than
Planetfall's, and was loaded with tiresome, sophomoric, un-clever humour.  I
read most of the other Avon Infocom books in a day or so each, but Planetfall
took almost a month to force myself through.
	On the brighter side though, another Planetfall sequel is the next
game that Activision plans to release under the Infocom label.  The game, to
be called "Planetfall 2:  The Search for Floyd", is sheduled for release late
in 1995.  As a prelude to this, they included the original (non-Solid Gold)
Planetfall game in their recently released Zork Anthology.
	Still, Planetfall remains not only my favourite text game, but my
favourite adventure game.

	[Well, we've all got our fingers crossed hoping that Activision
doesn't fumble this game as badly as they did Return to Zork.  But I'm giving
public notice, if Floyd looks like either R2D2 or a garbage can, the fur will


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Plundered Hearts                PARSER:  Infocom
  AUTHOR:  Amy Briggs                    PLOT:  Good
  EMAIL:  ?                              ATMOSPHERE:  Very Good
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI-2                  WRITING:  Good              
  PUZZLES:  Not bad                      SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Not bad                   DIFFICULTY:  On the Easy Side

	Plundered Hearts is a romance novel set in the 1600's.  You must
rescue your father from the clutches of an evil island governor with the aid
of a pirate captain who lights your fire.  
	Plundered Hearts takes a rather standard plotline and uses it to
very good effect.  The writing feels very much like a Harlequin novel, with
enough amusing puzzles and clever responses to keep me, a
non-romance-novel-reader interested to the end.  
	The puzzles are a little easier than the standard Infocom fare, but
generally interesting ones that can be reasoned or inferred.  There are few
"guess what the author is thinking puzzles".  
	The game's strongest point though is in its characterization.  Not
in the other characters; Crulley, Jamison, Lafonde and the others are rather
standard, thus my character rating of 1.2.  Rather, this game characterizes
you, the player, more than any other of Infocom's offerings.
	In most Infocom games, who YOU are is either unimportant or doesn't
affect the plot much.  In Zork, you're just some anonymous guy who was
walking by the white house.  You have no particular personality, or history
before this point.  Planetfall makes an effort to paint your character with
the enclosed diary, but it is all chrome.  None of it really affects the
story once you're in it.  As a result, I always sort of imagined myself as
the main character.  To some extent this was Infocom's intention; much of
their early advertising talked about imagining yourself waking up inside a
	Plundered Hearts, more than any other game gave me the feeling of
really being inside someone ELSE'S head.  Throughout the game, who you are
plays an important part.  Disguising your identity and altering your
appearance is important in several places to elicit a desired reaction from
other characters (not to mention avoiding some undesired reactions).  As a
result, the game scores very well in "intangibles", thus my high Wildcard
     Plundered Hearts is one of Infocom's more underrated games.  A very good
blend of puzzle solving and story.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

NAME:  Seastalker:  [Your Name] and the Ultramarine Bioceptor
				     GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
AUTHORS:  Stu Galley & Jim Lawrence  PLOT:  Routine
EMAIL:  ?                            ATMOSPHERE:  Good
AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 2                WRITING:  Passable
PUZZLES:  Good                       SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
CHARACTERS:  Good                    DIFFICULTY:  Very Short and Easy

	In Seastalker, Infocom's only adventure designed for children, you
play the part of...yourself, a brilliant young scientist who has designed a
two-man submarine.  Before it is completely ready, your aquadome is attacked
by a mysterious sea creature, forcing you to rush to the rescue, encountering
danger without and treachery within.
	Obviously, ratings for such a children's game reviewed by an adult
will be somewhat skewed, though I tried to compensate for this in Wildcard
	One of the authors has ghostwritten books for the Hardy Boys, Nancy
Drew, and Tom Swift series, and the writing style carries over very well.
The game has the same oh-my-gosh-golly sense of adventure that those books
have.  This is not a criticism, I read and enjoyed the Hardy Boys as a child,
but it has a mixed effect on the ratings, causing the atmosphere rating to go
up a bit, but the plot rating to go correspondingly down, as I had read so
many of these books that the plot seemed rather routine and predictable.
	The game scored well in the wildcard category, because I thought that
it was very innovative in three ways.
	First, it allowed you to give the main character your own name, or
any other name that you chose (this was later used in Moonmist, also by the
same authors, but in no other Infocom games).
	Secondly, unlike other text games, items in a room are not
necessarily visible when you walk in the room, even if they are out in the
open.  In one room, there is a pile of miscellaneous equipment that contains
something you need.  You are not told that the item is there, and searching
the pile will not help unless you tell the game exactly what it is that
you're looking for (If you have your documentation, you should be able to
figure this out).
	Third, the system used for piloting your submarine, gives you an
ASCII readout of your radar screen, similar to the sector maps in those old
Star Trek games (periods for empty sectors, a special character for your
ship, and so on).
	There was however, one feature that I didn't like.  Seastalker's
documentation comes with maps of both building complexes, and the 
neighbouring harbour (not the box-and-line graph paper maps that the players
would make, but floor plans).  This is fine in itself, but many times, the
description of a room in the game would not tell you where the exits are.
If you have the documentation you can figure it out of course, and perhaps
this was meant as a form of copy protection, but it was still rather
annoying, as it meant that you had to keep the docs right by your side at all
	I did come up with a little joke to counterbalance this.  Remembering
the stereotype of the child genius who can design moon rockets, but can't
pronounce his S's correctly, and noting that the title of the game, and the
name of your submarine had three "S" sounds between them (Seastalker,
Scimitar), I decided to play with a main character named Thuthie Thmith.
	All children's software today seems to be designed for the preschool
through kindergarten age group.  The rest is for adults.  Seastalker, like
The Hardy Boys, is for ages 8-14, and even 10 years later it remains about
the only game specially geared towards them.  Since the purpose of children's
software is always to educate as well as entertain, an all-text adventure
seems especially appropriate.  It's only a pity that there aren't more.


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

  NAME:  Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels
                                        PARSER:  Infocom
  AUTHOR:  Bob Bates                    PLOT:  Very Good
  EMAIL:  ?                             ATMOSPHERE:  Excellent
  AVAILABILITY:  LTOI-2                 WRITING:  Excellent
  PUZZLES:  Very good.                  SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
  CHARACTERS:  Quite good.              DIFFICULTY:  Standard

	In Sherlock:  The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, you play the part of
Dr. Watson.  Moriarty has stolen Victoria's regalia, leaving a trail of clues
to follow, and Holmes must recover them before the weekend is out.  Fearing
that Moriarty would anticipate his own moves and trap him, Holmes puts the
case in your hands to throw Moriarty off the trail.
	Having read all the Conan Doyle Holmes stories, I found Sherlock a
positive delight to play.  Both Doyle's writing style, and the atmosphere of
19th century London are approximated extremely well.  Unlike Infocom's
earlier mysteries which took place in one house, Sherlock's action takes you
all over London.  Numerous little bits of Holmesian minutia flesh out the
game.  The humour is appropriately wry without resorting to the usual
Infocom style of silliness that would not work nearly as well here as in
other games.
	Sherlock is remarkably free of save/restore puzzles (i.e. ones that
require death or failure to acquire information that can be used after you
restore the game.  You are usually given multiple opportunities to solve ones
that you probably wouldn't get the first time around.
	The only place where Sherlock suffers is in its "intangibles".  The
concept of the villain laying down a trail to follow is more reminiscent of
Batman's Riddler than Professor Moriarty.  Also, the idea of Holmes turning
such a vital case over to a tyro, stretches the imagination a bit, despite
the fact that he personally oversees your activities.  The game also suffers
a bit from the "Zork Syndrome", where you as the adventurer go wherever you
want and take whatever isn't nailed down.  In the course of the game you must
take or deface items from Scotland yard, Madame Tussaud's, and the Tower of
London, with little consequence or resistance.  In e-mail correspondence, Bob
Bates told me that he was aware of this problem when writing the game, and
sought to minimize it as much as possible.  To a large extent he succeeded,
but there is a little residual weakness.  Finally, it must be remembered that
Moriarty died in the same story that he was introduced (The Adventure of the
Final Problem), and that at that point Watson had never heard of him.
	Therefore there is a difficulty in going back and doing a story where
he and Watson meet.  To be fair though, Conan Doyle himself made the same
cheat in The Valley of Fear, as did almost all of the movies.
	Despite these nits, the game's strong points almost completely
overwhelm them, and Sherlock, Infocom's final all-text game, ranks as one of
their very best.


From: "Preston Landers" 

 NAME: Shogun                                    PARSER: Infocom Graphic
 AUTHOR: Infocom                                 PLOT: Linear
 EMAIL: ???                                      ATMOSPHERE: Very Well Done
 AVAILABILITY: LTOI 2 ??                         WRITING: Very Good
 PUZZLES: Fair                                   SUPPORTS: Infocom Ports
 CHARACTERS: Very Good                           DIFFICULTY: Hard

I forgot that I had a copy of one of Infocom's last releases, Shogun, laying
around over Christmas break.  So when I found it, I decided to tackle it
because the novel it was based on, James Clavell's SHOGUN, is one of my
favorites.  The parser is Infocom's last, the Graphic style similar to Zork
Zero.  There is one graphic puzzle (that can be solved "non-graphicly" if
you must.)  There are many beautiful illustrations in the style of Japanese
17th century paintings.

The game itself is extremely linear.  If this really turns you off, you
won't like the game.  You go through a number of "episodes" or scenes, very
closely based on the book.  Honestly, I don't think I could have won the
game if I had not read the original novel (or used the built-in hints
extensively.)  For instance, you must know where to go and what do to almost
by magic.  If you haven't read the book, or you don't plan on using the
hints, then you might not enjoy this game.  Those caveats aside, it WAS a
very enjoyable game.  It was done by Dave Lebling (I believe.)

The story, in case you haven't seen the mini-series or read the book, casts
you as John Blackthorne, a 17th century English pilot, sailing a Dutch ship
towards the fabled Japans.  The game goes quite a bit into the political
intrigue between the various feuding Daiymos (Japanese kings.)  Ultimately,
you must become a samurai and help your Daiymo become Shogun, or Supreme
Ruler.  There are a few sub-plots, such as your love interest with the
beautiful courtier Mariko (how many games do you get to type 'MAKE LOVE TO
MARIKO' to score 5 points?) but overall, the game flies from one episode to
the next in a very fast-paced, and overall, enjoyable game.

From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

     In SHOGUN, you play the role John Blackthorne, an English seaman in
1600, working for the Dutch to open up a trade route to Japan.  Based
upon the book of the same name, the story involves your attempts to
learn Japanese native customs while caught in the middle of the power
struggles between Toranaga, and Ishido, two local warlords.
     The writing is much grittier than in any other Infocom game; from
the cockroaches swarming over your cabin floor to the frequent violent
killings to the occasional nude bathing scene.  Shogun was the only
Infocom game ever to carry a warning label on the box.  If it were a
movie, it would probably be a PG-13.
     Shogun is also the first of Infocom's three Graphic Interactive
Fiction games.  Unlike the other two however, there is no interaction
between text and graphics (except the automap in the maze in Chapter
10), and graphics simply pop up at certain times.  Ordinarily in a game
like this, the cartoon-like graphics would positively destroy the
atmosphere, but in a historical novel they resemble what you might see
in an ancient manuscript, and thus add to the atmosphere.
     One weakness of the game is in compartmentalization.  Rather than
one large game, it is divided into 18 separate chapters.  It is rather
like Nord and Bert, except that there are more chapters, and they must
be played in a specific order.  This does not work as well here as it
does in Nord and Bert.
Your point total is the only thing that carries over to the next
chapter; the items in your inventory are pre-determined.  Admittedly,
this is probably the only way to adapt such a novel to game form, but
the effect is still not entirely satisfactory.  Many text games end up
being all puzzles and no story.  Shogun is exactly the opposite.  Too
often the story just seems to go on around you while you get
meaningless points for smiling, nodding, or bowing at the right times.
The result is rather too many "guess what the author is thinking" type
puzzles, rather than puzzles that can be reasoned out.
     Two exceptions to this are Chapter 1 (The Erasmus), and Chapter 16
(The Ninja).  Both are outstanding blendings of story and puzzle
solving, and rank with Infocom's best moments.
     One nice feature is that the game asks if you want to save at the
end of each chapter.  I keep a save file for each chapter on a scratch
disk, so that I can enter the story at any point if I ever feel like
pulling the game off the shelf.  Shogun is a very good game to read,
though a bit less satisfying to play.  Overall though, a fine effort.


From: "Magnus Olsson" 

NAME: Space Aliens Laughed at my Cardigan
AUTHOR: Andre M. Boyle			PLOT: Confusing
EMAIL: ???				ATMOSPHERE: Utterly demented
AVAILABILITY: GMD, S60 (voluntary)	WRITING: Abysmally bad
PUZZLES: Incomprehensible		SUPPORTS: AGT
CHARACTERS: Weird			DIFFICULTY: Totally unplayable

Initially, it was the title that drew my attention to this game.  I
didn't download it, however, until I saw the review by Sean Molley
(a.k.a. Molley the Mage) in SPAG3 - I wanted to see for myself if it
really was possible to have a game as bad as his review indicated.
What I found exceeded my wildest expectations. 

This game is not just bad, but unspeakably so, and it's uniformly bad;
the writing, the puzzles, the atmosphere, the plot, the NPCs, the
room descriptions, the attempts at humour are all miserable. If there
was an award for the world's worst adventure game, this game would be
an obvious candidate.  In addition, this game must be the most
bug-infested piece of software it's ever been my misfortune to try; it
actually seems as if the author hasn't even tried playing his own game
once, or he would have found the bugs immediately. 

You may wonder why I bother to write this review if I'm only going to
tell how bad it is, which Sean did an excellent job of saying in his
review. Well, I think Sean missed an important feature of this game:
its cult value.

In fact, every aspect of this game makes for a truly unique
experience: the total lack of logic, the weird malapropisms triggered
by some player actions, the utterly bewildering atmosphere, the
author's inexplicable hatred for policemen (try examining the
"policeman standing here like a total and utter prune" sometime), the
demented dialogue produced by your interaction with some NPCs, the
attempts at humour (including some utter failures at imitating Douglas
Adams), just to name a few examples.  A great source of unconscious
humour is the author's weird, fractured English (it's hard to believe that
he actually lives in the U.K.), that switches freely between
tenses, persons, even gender (human NPCs are referred to as "it") and

Playing (or trying to play) this game is sure to create a lasting
impression. It is not to be recommended for the weak of heart or those
incapable of appreciating the beauty of absurdity, but if you'd like
to experience Infocom on acid, as it were, you should by all means try
it out. 


From: "Graeme Cree" <72630.304 SP@G>

NAME:  Suspect                      GAMEPLAY:  Infocom Standard
AUTHOR:  Dave Lebling               PLOT:  Good
EMAIL:  ?                           ATMOSPHERE:  Not Bad
AVAILABILITY:  LTOI 1               WRITING:  Not Bad
PUZZLES:  Very Good                 SUPPORTS:  Infocom Ports
CHARACTERS:  Very Good              DIFFICULTY:  Advanced

	In Suspect, you start as a reporter covering Veronica Ashcroft's
halloween party.  When she is murdered in a back room, with some of your
personal possessions found at the scene of the crime, you are the prime
suspect (hence the name!), and you've got 12 hours to find the real killer.
	Suspect may be a victim of ratings inflation.  My numbers for it
totalled 5.8, and assuming that 5.0 means an average game, this still
indicates a pretty good effort.  However, it seems to be especially low for
an Infocom game, though I didn't dislike it by any means.
	The puzzles are generally well done, but it suffers from a lack of
vividness, and a lack of feeling that you're really there.  This problem
afflicted some of Infocom's earlier efforts (except Planetfall which was
extremely well written, and Suspended, where you really aren't there!), and
their early mysteries in particular.  One problem might be that in several of
the early Infocom games, there seemed to be a set of stock responses to
various commands that stayed the same from game to game, while later on they
began to tailor them from game to game.  For example, in many early Infocom
games, if you try to enter something that you can't, you're told simply "You
hit your head on the [NOUN] as you attempt this."
	Also, Infocom's early mysteries, which took place in a single private
residence seemed to lack the sense of exploration and discovery that one
comes to expect in an Infocom offering.  This is of course purely a matter of
taste, and may not be experienced by a different player at all.
	All in all though, Suspect remains a very solid effort, and well
worth a play through.


From: "Stefan Jokisch" 

NAME: Tossed Into Space                 PARSER: AGT
AUTHOR: Graeme Cree                     PLOT: Non Linear
EMAIL: ???                              ATMOSPHERE: Not Bad
AVAILABILITY: Freeware, GMD             WRITING: Not Bad
PUZZLES: Simple                         SUPPORTS: AGT Ports
CHARACTERS: Simple                      DIFFICULTY: Very Easy

	"Tossed Into Space" tells a slightly weird science fiction story:
You are Dr. Schmidt, a saboteur who is trapped on the new colony of Alpha
Centauri.  Since the colonists (the Rob-&-Son family) refused to take you
home to earth, you have waited for an opportunity to steal their space-
ship "Jupiter 8".  Finally, your time has come: The Rob-&-Son family is
not at home and the Jupiter is only guarded by a robot.  You have to get
rid of the robot, refuel the ship, set the course data and lift off.
	Apparently, "Tossed Into Space" was written for beginners; the
game is very short, simple and easy.  All the player has to do is to
perform the most basic exercises of text adventuring: bringing light to
a dark room, wearing appropriate clothes in a cold place or unlocking an
object with a key.  Experienced players will solve 'Tossed Into Space'
within an hour or less.  In fact, this game is so short that I cannot say
more without spoiling the entire game.
	Nevertheless, playing "Tossed Into Space" was fun.  The story is
amusing and the writing is all right as long as you don't mind a few
spelling mistakes.  The (AGT) parser is not comfortable, but satisfying.
'Tossed Into Space' is worth taking a look at, if you don't expect too much.

	[By the way, if you haven't guessed it yet, this game is a total
Lost in Space parody, but then, you knew that, right?]


From: "Magnus Olsson" 

NAME: World				PARSER: Limited
AUTHOR: Doug Mcdonald			PLOT: Simple but non-linear
EMAIL: ???				ATMOSPHERE: Superb
PUZZLES: Fairly standard, much treasure-hunting and exploration
SUPPORTS: Unix, DOS, VMS, etc (C source included)
CHARACTERS: Few, simple			DIFFICULTY: Below average

Five and a half years ago, when I first got full access to the
Internet, one of the first things I did was to look for FTP sites with
interesting software. Finding the Usenet source archives on uunet was
marvellous; finding the source to a large adventure game there
was even more exciting. I downloaded the game, tried it on my Unix
workstation, and liked it so much that I brought it home and compiled
it on my PC at home. The game was called "World" and was _huge_; due
to its sheer size, I never completed it (I got stuck about 75%
through, put it aside for a few days, and never got about to complete
it), but it made a lasting impression. When writing these reviews for
SPAG, I couldn't resist the impulse to dust off my old copy of "World"
to see if it's lost any of its attraction over the years; to my joy,
it hadn't.

"World" is a game in the tradition of the old mainframe adventures
like Colossal Cave and Zork/Dungeon. This means that it's a big game
(several hundred locations), with a heavy emphasis on treasure-hunting
and exploration. Unlike those games, however, the author has managed
to create a much more coherent world - which doesn't stop it from also
being a world that is very varied and offers a lot of surprises.

The story is simple: you, being a lowly latrine orderly on a starship
that's just landed on an alien planet, have volunteered to explore it
on foot. By collecting alien artifacts and specimens of interesting
wildlife, you hope to earn a (long overdue) promotion. The planet soon
turns out to have quite a few surprises in store for you...

While the plot may not be that great, what makes this game memorable
is the outstanding atmosphere. Somehow, the author manages to make a
world which is quite improbable when you think about it, and which is
filled with quite a few of the cliches of Sci-Fi, seem very
convincing. You not only get the feeling that "you're there", you experience
that elusive feeling that is the very essence of science fiction - the
sense of wonder.

The writing is very good, with lots of long, very graphic descriptions
of a weird and wonderful, alien world. The mainframe tradition is
noticeable in that the author doesn't shy away from using long
descriptions - fortunately without falling into the trap of excessive
verbosity or overuse of purple prose. 

Unfortunately, the parser and vocabulary aren't quite up to the
standard of the writing, reducing playability and leading to a few
"guess the verb" situations. Still, it's not worse than your typical
AGT parser, and since most puzzles don't require any advanced
manipulation of objects you can get along quite well. Also, some
slight misses (which would surely have been found by more extensive
playtesting) detract somewhat from the overall impression.

As an adventure _game_, "World" isn't very remarkable; it does stand
out, however, in the way its author manages to give credibility,
texture and atmosphere to a totally alien world.

READER'S SCOREBOARD----------------------------------------------------------


	A   - Runs on Amigas.
	AP  - Runs on Apple IIs.
	GS  - Runs on Apple IIGS.
	AR  - Runs on Archimedes Acorns.
	C   - Commercial, no fixed price.
	C30 - Commercial, with a fixed price of $30.
	F   - Freeware.
	GMD - Available on
	I   - Runs on IBM compatibles.
	M   - Runs on Macs.
	S20 - Shareware, registration costs $20.
	64  - Runs on Commodore 64s.
	TAD - Written with TADS.  This means it can run on:
                AmigaDOS, NeXT and PC, Atari ST/TT/Falcon, DECstation
                (MIPS) Unix Patchlevel 1 and 2, IBM, IBM RT, Linux, Apple
                Macintosh, SGI Iris/Indigo running Irix, Sun 4 (Sparc)
                running SunOS or Solaris 2, Sun 3, OS/2, and even a 386+
                protected mode version.
        AGT - Available for IBM, Mac, Amiga, and Atari ST.  This does not
                include games made with the Master's edition.
	ADVSYS - Available for PC and Macintosh only, or so my sources tell
        INF - Infocom or Inform game.  These games will run on:
                Atari ST, Amiga, Apple Macintosh, IBM, Unix, VMS, Apple II,
                Apple IIGS, C64, TSR-80, and Archimedes Acorn.  There may be
                other computers on which it runs as well.

Disclaimer: These scores have been compiled since issue 1 of SPAG, and as
  such, might not be totally accurate.  However, they are as close to the
  readers' opinions as I can make them.  Heh, I always wanted to say that.

 Name		       Avg Sc  Chr  Puz  # Sc  Rlvt Ish       Notes:
 ====                  ======  ===  ===  ====  ========       ======
Another...No Beer	2.5    0.1  1.0    1     4      S10_IBM_GMD
Arthur: Excalibur	8.6    1.8  1.7    1     4	C_INF
Ballyhoo		7.0    1.8  1.6    2	 4	C_INF
Beyond Zork		7.4		   1	 x	C_INF
Border Zone		6.1    1.1  1.4    2	 4	C_INF
Bureaucracy		7.8		   1	 x	C_INF
Curses			8.4    1.3  1.7    5     2	F_INF
Cutthroats		6.3    1.4  1.2    4	 1	C_INF
Crypt v2.0		N/A		   0     3	S12_IBM_GMD
Deadline		7.2		   2	 x	C_INF
Deep Space Drifter	5.5	    1.4    1     3      S15_TAD_GMD
Detective		1.0    0.6  0.2    1     4      F_AGT_GMD
Ditch Day Drifter	7.1    1.2  1.6	   1     2      F_TAD_GMD
Dungeon Adventure	6.8    1.3  1.6    1     4	F_SEE REVIEW
Dungeon of Dunjin       7.0    1.0  1.5    1     3      S20_IBM_MAC_GMD
Enchanter		7.0    0.8  1.3	   4     2	C_INF
Enhanced		N/A		   0	 2      S10_TAD_GMD
Great Archaelog. Race	6.5    1.0  1.5    1     3      S20_TAD_GMD
Hitchhiker's Guide	8.0     	   3     x	C_INF
Hollywood Hijinx	5.5		   2	 x	C_INF
Horror30.Zip		N/A		   0	 3	S20_IBM_GMD
Horror of Rylvania	7.7		   1     1	C20_TAD_GMD (Demo)
Humbug			7.4		   1	 x	S10_GMD (Uncertain)
Infidel 		6.9		   5     1-2	C_INF
Jacaranda Jim		7.0		   1	 x	S10_GMD (Uncertain)
John's Fire Witch	8.5    1.2  1.5    1     4	S6_TADS_GMD
Klaustrophobia		7.8    1.2  1.4    2     1	S15_AGT_GMD
Leather Goddesses	8.0    1.6  1.7    3	 4	C_INF
Lurking Horror, The	6.9    1.4  1.2    4     1,3	C_INF
Magic.Zip		4.5    0.5  0.5    1     3      S20_IBM_GMD
Mind Forever Voyaging	8.4    1.4   -     2	 x	C_INF
Moonmist		5.8	           4     1	C_INF
Mop & Murder		4.9    0.5  1.0    1	 4	F_AGT_GMD
Multidimen. Thief	5.3    0.4  1.0    2     2      S?/F_AGT_GMD
Nord and Bert		3.9		   2	 4	C_INF
One Hand Clapping	6.8    1.0  1.5    1     x	F_ADVSYS_GMD
Planetfall		7.1		   3	 4	C_INF
Plundered Hearts 	7.9    1.2  1.2    1	 4	C_INF
Sanity Claus		9.0	           1     1	S10_AGT_GMD
Save Princeton		5.6		   1	 x	S10_TAD_GMD
Seastalker		5.4		   2	 4	C_INF
Shades of Grey		7.8    1.2  1.5    2	 1-2	F_AGT_GMD
Sherlock		8.5    1.5  1.8    1	 4	C_INF
Shogun			7.1    1.5  0.5    1     4      C_INF
Sorceror		7.3    0.6  1.6	   4	 2	C_INF
Space Aliens...Cardigan 1.6    0.5  0.4    3     3      S60_AGT_GMD
Spellbreaker		8.1    1.2  1.8	   3	 2	C_INF
Starcross		7.2	           4     1	C_INF
Stationfall		6.7		   2	 x	C_INF
Suspect			5.9		   1	 x	C_INF
Suspended		7.0		   1	 x	C_INF
Tossed into Space	3.9    0.6  0.2    1     4      F_AGT_GMD
Treasure.Zip		N/A		   0     3	S20_IBM_GMD
Trinity			8.8    1.4  1.7    6     1-2	C_INF
Unnkulian One-Half	7.0    1.3  1.7    4     1	F_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Unventure 1	8.0    1.3  1.7    3     1-2	S10_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Unventure 2	7.2    1.4  1.5    3     1	S10_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Zero  	9.0 	           1     1	C25_TAD_GMD (Demo)
Waystation		8.0    1.2  1.5    1     x      F_TAD_GMD
Wishbringer		6.3		   1	 x	C_INF
Witness, The		7.0    1.7  1.2    3     1,3	C_INF
World			6.9    1.0  1.4    1     4	F_MISC_GMD (See Rev.)
Zork 0			6.5    1.1  2.0	   1	 x	C_INF
Zork 1			5.9    0.6  1.5	   6	 1-2	C_INF
Zork 2			6.7    0.8  1.6	   4	 1-2	C_INF
Zork 3			6.0    0.6  1.4	   4	 1-2	C_INF


The Top Three:

	[From now on, a game is not eligible for the Top Three unless it has
received at least three ratings from different readers.  This is to ensure a
more democratic and accurate depiction of the best games.  So, if your
favorite got dropped from the list because you were the only one who rated
it, you'd better get two friends together and make them play the game.]

 1. Trinity		8.8	6 votes
 2. Curses		8.4	5 votes
 3. Spellbreaker	8.1	3 votes


Editor's Picks of the Month:

	This month I have three completely different, but equally interesting
games to recommend.  First is the game _The Golden Wombat of Destiny_, and as
the name implies, prepare yourself for a large helping of whimsy, and a dash
of wonder.
	The second game is none other than Adventions' very own _The Horror
of Rylvania_, a very appropriate tale amid today's Anne Rice craze.  Of
course, Adventions takes a rather unique approach to the vampire genre, and
I'm sure you'll enjoy this one.  It's at the high end price range of text
adventures, but from what I've seen of it, worth it all the same.
	The final game is John's Firewitch.  This little game has made quite
a stir since its release, proving that short games are sometimes better than
long ones.  Playing time averages from 2-3 hours, but everyone I've talked to
has had nothing but praise for it, including myself.
	'Wombat' is available only for IBM PC compatibles as far as I know,
but 'Rylvania' supports all TADS ports, another chit in its favor.  Rylvania
has a demo available on  Wombat is available in full.  John's
Firewitch is also a TADS game, available in full, but well worth the $6.00
registration fee.

Wombat of Destiny and Solution

Horror of Rylvania Demo & Solution[your computer]/rylvania.[some
	   compressed format]

John's Fire Witch


From: "Stephen Granade" 

Newly released!  Yet Another Sci-fi Adventure Game (tm)!  It's fun, it's 
kooky, it's...


While driving home one night, your car mysteriously dies.  You get out, pop 
the hood, and wham! that's the last you remember...until you wake up 
trapped in a cell.  With no idea of how you got there and no one to ask, 
you must escape and find out why you were kidnapped.

Visit the lovely sewage dump Melica!  Tour abandoned Comanis!  Avoid Efric 
at all costs!  The game is guaranteed 99.9% maze free, and is freeware.  
That's right, freeware.  (I wrote it as an exercise to see what TADS could 

The game is in TADS .gam format, and can be found at in the 
directory if-archive/games/tads, under  (If necessary, e-mail me 
at sgranade SP@G, & I'll put a .tar'ed file there as well.)  All 
comments are welcome, all suggestions are listened to.

See what one man, a twisted imagination, and lots of free time hath
wrought.  Waystation!  Get yours today.

CLOSING REMARKS--------------------------------------------------------------

	Just a short comment on "Whizzard's Guide to Text Adventures", that
should follow this issue.  I was only able to look at things from an
MSDOS user's viewpoint.  I am looking for people willing to take a shot at
the other formats, primarily Macintosh.
	In other news, both SPAG and other, I have a few comments to make.
First, no, Avalon is not finished, though I'd give my two front teeth to have
it done this week.  Maybe expect it this May, or this summer, or possibly
this fall.  I can say with confidence that I will beat the new decade at
least.  Beyond that, I can only pray.
	Next, SPAG starts a new policy this issue, the Unlucky 13.  Every
issue, 13 poor, put upon readers will be sent a list of 3 games and asked to
review them.  I got a pretty darn good response from this policy in this
issue, and I guess I'll continue it, since readers at rest tend to stay at
rest.  There is no penalty for not reviewing these games, other than a
smothering, choking miasma of guilt that will gnaw at your very kidneys.


	*Cough* Ahem.  I don't know what came over me.
	Well, in the next issue, I'll be running the winning 'breathers',
and I'll see if I can't scrape together a feature article or something.
Seeing as I had two I almost put in this issue, I reckon I'll manage.  Welp,
until next issue then.


	   Thank you for helping to keep text adventures alive!

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