instructions aren't that clear on your objective, except
to say that when you start the game you don't know who
you are or what you're up to. In the While Wizard's
case, this ignorance lasted for several hours! Finding
yourself in the Pleasure Dome of Enoch, capital city
of Eden, you first wander around checking out the shops,
casino and other amusements, before moving out into
the city and trying to find your way around. From the
very moment that you start the game, you'll find yourself
involved with all sorts of gadgets and gimmicks, all
very well thought out, and some -- like the One Armed
Bandit in the Casino -- very entertaining.
a very complicated system of roundabouts and 'ped-ways'
connecting the different city locations, but luckily
they're fairly easily mapped, and after a while you
begin to feel like a native Edener out on holiday. The
biggest problem is mastering the main Eden Transport
System, which is a colour-coded set-up with over 40
million possible destinations! If you get really stuck,
send for a crib sheet to Level 9, who've written a special
BASIC program to help you work out how to get to where
you want to go! I think there's going to be a huge demand
society on Eden is pretty sick -- everything's run by
robots for the benefit of humans, which means that the
humans are a rather spineless lot. The eventual aim
of the game is to work your way up in society, get a
decent job, and then, when you've reached the top, set
about changing the world.
you play you'll come across the Fuzbots, who regularly
inspect you and will fine you for any misdemeanour you
may have committed. You'll also discover that people
on Eden live for ever (or almost), because they simply
replace their worn-out limbs with someone else's. If
you don't behave, you'll find that you'll be doing most
of the supplying! The most important thing to do is
keep a check on your expenditure -- being in debt can
cost you literally an arm and a leg!
also -- if you're sensible -- get yourself a companion
in the form of n Dagget -- an electronic dog. This battery-driven
cutie spends most the game jumping up your leg. I suppose
it has to make the most of it -- considering the price
of a Dagget, you're unlikely to have a leg for long
after you've paid for it!
are over 220 locations, all with graphics, and the Wizard
reckons that this game is going to be responsible for
more sleepless nights than Nescafe, insomnia and indigestion
put together! Definitely worth trading-in a limb for.
Level 9 are going to stay at the top of the adventure
league, they've got to come up with something pretty
special -- particularly in these days when more people
are buying disk drives, and getting access to games
like Hitchhikers and Zork. Have they succeeded?
have certainly come a long way since Snowball.
This was a text-only game that was followed by Return
to Eden, introducing the pleasures of graphics for
the first time in a Level 9 game. Now there's Worm,
with a load of new features that make it the most playable
Level 9 game yet.
you get multi-tasking graphics. This means that you
can enter text even while the pictures are still drawing.
Of course it does mean that the graphics are slowed
down slightly, but the big advantage is that you can
move around quickly without having to turn off the pictures
altogether. And in this game, believe me, you'll be
doing a lot of moving around -- and not always in the
direction you want to go, either!
you get a vastly increased vocabulary. Level 9 are claiming
a thousand words, and on the basis of a couple of days
playing I won't quibble with that. I certainty didn't
experience any vocabulary problems on my trips round
the increased vocabulary is only half the story. The
text-compression system used in Worm means that
each word (including all the text of the location descriptions)
is stored in a large dictionary. Your inputs are matched
against the dictionary and if your input doesn't make
sense, you'll be told exactly why not.
example, if you see an interesting flower which is,
in fact, just there as part of the scenery, and try
to 'Examine the flower', the program will tell you that
the flower is 'just scenery', or 'not important'. In
effect, therefore, the vocabulary is a lot larger than
1000 words -- in fact, the game will accept almost any
word that it uses itself. So perhaps it's more accurate
to say that the program has a SIGNIFICANT vocabulary
of 1000 words. That, just for the record, is better
than any other cassette-based game on the market, and
even better than some of the earlier Infocom games (Zork,
not only does Worm understand more words, it
also allows you to use them in many different ways --
far more than in earlier Level 9 games. You can have
multiple inputs connected by AND, THEN, commas and full
stops. You can use prepositions like on and at,
and even use it to refer to a previously mentioned noun.
is, however, one notable omission from this new system,
and that's 'interactive characters'. You still can't
talk to other characters in the story, and although
there are other people about who move around, and even
address you from time to time, there's no provision
in the program for interacting with them, other than
handing over objects or money. This is a pity, the more
so since other contemporary games (Lord of the Rings
in particular, and Infocom games of course) are becoming
quite strong in this area. Level 9 will have to watch
out that they aren't left too far behind, since characters
can add a lot to a game, even if they are fairly primitive
-- take the Hobbit, for example.