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Chrono quest 1 logo

Psygnosis, Amiga £29.95

Chrono quest 1 O oh la la, what have we here? Une petite offering francaise, níest ce pas? Hur hur. Trolls can speak French you know, absolutely no trouble whatsoever Ė standing on their heads they could ask you for un morceau de billy goat, potage de lizard and gnome baguette and never bat an eyelid. Magnifique or what? Being of such a cultural and linguistically talented disposition (zut alors!), I was dead pleased to get my hands on an original product francais. The story is probably a bit too cosmopolitan for the like of you but I will let you in on it anyway. Iím that kind of guy...

OK, this is it: your father (who also happens to be the owner of a very nice piece of franglais architecture) was pretty clever. So clever, in fact, that he managed to develop a time machine. Woo! Unfortunately, his servant Richard found him out and, with a sensible eye towards his own gain (thereís always a good side to the villain), conspired to kill him. Luckily for you, papa managed to leave a lurvly little letter behind.

So, mister cleverclogs, this is what you have to do. First off, find the time machine. Second, use it. Er... I mean use it to travel through seven time zones, restore the component parts of a vital program and make sure Richard gets his just desserts (Angel Delight for me, please).

If you think the whole thing sounds a bit complicated, youíre right. To make the whole thing that much easier, this huge adventure (and I mean really huge Ė bigger than two trolls hanging off a bridge) is played entirely using a cursor and the mouse. Each location has its own excellently detailed illustration: all you do is place the cursor over one of the icons (THROW, EXAMINE, PUSH/PULL etc) on a panel to the right of the screen and then click on the appropriate object in your inventory or on the screen.
In theory, a system like this is designed to eliminate all that messing about with parsers and incorrect inputs. You know, knowing what you want to say but not quite being able to find the words to do it. Thatís all fine and dandy, hunky dory and quite handy Ė if it works. Trouble is, in Chrono Quest it doesnít always. There seem to be no rules at all as to how close your cursor has to be to an object to get a response. Sometimes you can be miles away from a chest and the command to open it works. At other times you have to place the cursor really pixel perfect to get it to work. Annoying? Yup. Clever? No way.

Those people at Psygnosis obviously arenít as good at French as I am because their translation doesnít quite come off. When theyíre not totally unhelpful or nonexistent, the responses donít make all that much sense. I reckon the punier ones amongst you might have liked a few helpful hints or even just a bit of praise when you (finally) get something right (halleluya!). I certainly would, and I/m not puny.

Now Iíve shot my mouth off about the bad bits, lets go right for the jugular and go for the fabbo, brill and trendy bits. As you can see, the graphics are as mouth-watering as a pot of billy-goat stew on the boil Ė and even despite the slightly awkward mouse control, the gameplay is great fun and extremely compelling. Thereís something really neat about being able to turn a tap on and actually see the water gushing out. The problems are tough and addictive enough to have you slumped over the mouse, greasy haired and spotty-faced, without one break for a slice of gnome pie or a billygoat steak, for days. Not only that, thereís loads of them!

It goes without saying (but Iíll say it, anyway) that I would have like Chrono Quest even more if the control method had been a bit smoother. Still, even as it stands itís one of the best icon-driven adventures Iíve come across and no mean treat for yer average pasty-faces human. Pity about the price tag, though.
(Reviewed by Chuck Vomit (Fictional Gnome dreamed up by the Zzap! Crew))

Zzap! Issue 43, January 1989, p.51