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Price: £24.99

Arthur The rumours are that Infocom is folding – but out of the blue comes Arthur, their Interactive Fiction game. That means it plays like an adventure as opposed to an RPG, yet its scoring system has definite RPG overtones. As you progress through the adventure, certain actions cause you to be awarded points for chivalry, wisdom, experience, and for the quest itself.

You play Arthur, but you are too young and not yet wise enough to become king. The local chieftain, King Lot, has secretly plundered Excalibur, and dropped it in the lake. Flourishing a replica of the sword before his people, he proclaims himself king.
What a rip off! Never mind, Merlin is keeping a fatherly eye on your interests, but before you can claim your birthright, you must prove yourself worthy. Merlin is prepared to help you but stops short of giving you full range of magic powers. However, you are granted the power to give yourself the form of five different creatures. But this power is limited. You have to change from creature to creature via human form; you can be killed for practising sorcery if you are caught, and it is difficult to carry objects when you are not human. All of this leads to some nicely constructed logic puzzles.
And it leads to humour, too! All too often, quest games take themselves a trifle too seriously. But Infocom;s humour shows through, and there are many funny moments.

Zork Zero and Shogun gave the world the first Infocom graphics, the latter with pictures that scrolled off the screen with the text, the former with an occasional full-screen picture. Both games set the text under a graphics “arch”. Here, the ever-flexible formula is once again varied, with the screen split dead across the middle, text under it, and above is a banner containing a cameo picture for each location. On-screen mapping is also provided, but here the text is not hidden as in Zork Zero; it simply replaces the graphics part of the screen. So, movement by clicking on the map is very slick, as you can read your way through the text without having to switch between the two, which is really handy.

Written by Bob Bates, author of Sherlock: The Riddle Of The Crown Jewels, Arthur is an original story in its own right, very loosely based on the legend. The game itself is another example of the highly professional products we have come to expect from the world’s masters of adventure.

CU Amiga, September 1989, p.60

Arthur logo  Zzap! Sizzler

Infocom, Amiga £29.99

Arthur Y ou are Arthur. Not Arthur Fowler, Arthur Scargill or even Arthur I’vegotakipperstuckupmyassortedsocks. No, as just plain ‘Arthur’ you are the rightful heir to the English throne, and the hero in Infocom’s interpretation of the famous legend.
It has been many years since King Uther has died and so far no-one has been able to pull the famous sword from the stone to become his rightful heir. It has even got to the point where the people are willing to let a usurper, King Lot, take the throne.

As Arthur, you start the adventure at night in the churchyard where the sword in the stone is located. You know that King Lot has imposed a curfew and you will be thrown in jail if caught, but you were compelled to try to remove the sword. Of course, being the rightful heir, you succeed in pulling it out (no oo-ers here please) whereupon Merlin materialises and, before disappearing again, tells you that you are not yet worthy to claim the throne and must first gain a hundred chivalry, experience, wisdom, and quest points.
But no sooner than Merlin disappears than King Lot’s soldiers march into the church to remove the sword and stone. In the morning King Lot shows a copy of the sword to the gathered villagers, claiming it is the magic sword and that he must now be crowned High King. You must work quickly if you are to stop him – his coronation is in three days time.

Arthur A visit to Merlin’s cave results in him giving you the ability to transform yourself into an owl, badger, salamander, eel or turtle. You might have preferred a nice, shiny suit or armour and a good horse, but Merlin is Merlin and it would not be wise to argue. You can change into an animal as often as you like, but never directly from one animal to another (you must become human again first) and never in public – it would freak people out!

Exploring the surrounding countryside reveals a great many locations ranging from the village taverns to bogs, woods, a lake (as a turtle or eel you can swim beneath the surface), and King Lot’s castle. Plenty of characters, both friendly and hostile, can be spoken to and asked questions. The village idiot is not too helpful – though he says he can peak into the game’s machine code when you are gone!

Most of the problems encountered revolve around transforming into different creatures – for instance, to go down a hole in the ground you must be the badger, while as the owl you can fly high above the land. Surprisingly, as an eel you can even talk to a kraken in the lake. However, you are not allowed to carry objects when in animal form and this obviously causes more than a few problems. It can also be frustrating finding somewhere to change, there is never an empty phone box when you want one! As in other recent Infocom releases, there is an in-built hints facility, accessed by looking into a magical crystal. The typically polished Infocom presentation also includes various display modes: graphics, map, inventory, score, and text.

With the great puzzles, some attractive graphics and superb vocabulary and parser, plus the odd touch of humour, Arthur has all the ingredients to make a first-class adventure. A must for all Infocom fans.
(Reviewed by The Geek, fictional nerd dreamed up by the Zzap crew)

Zzap! Issue 54, October 1989, p.p.30-31