Fish! logo

Dave Eriksson follows Ingrid home, looks at some dungeon history and relaxes with an aquatic adventure.

MAGNETIC SCROLLS has a reputation for brill adventures. Its latest, Fish!, is no exception. You play the part of an inter-dimensional espionage agent currently on a month of rest and recreation or to be more precise - in voluntary vacation mode.

Your boss, Sir Playfair Panchax VC DSO FRT, suggested a holiday, after all you had been working for an extended period without a break. You have earned the highest rewards within the service - one month inhabiting the body of a goldfish. Oh the peace, the tranquility of it all. You can have a whale of a time.

But it was not to be. Having just started to really relax, you are called back to solve the worst crime of the century. The Seven Deadly Fins are a pretty gruesome lot, their list of crimes is already as long as your arm and, unusually for a fish, you do have arms.

The Seven are planning to sabotage a whole planet inhabited entirely by fish. The world is being battered by a gross attack of evaporation. To combat this, a project has been set up to replace the lost water. But the Seven Deadly Fins have stolen the focus wheel - a vital part of the mechanism.
The whole concept of the inter-dimensional espionage section revolves around their ability to "warp" an operative's persona into a host body anywhere in the universe - how did you think you became a goldfish anyway?

Sir PP pops three warps into your goldfish bowl, so that you can skate off to the possible hiding places of the parts of the missing focus wheel. Find all three and you will get a further warp to take you to the city of Hydropolis and put an end to this dastardly plot.

These initial three warps will take you to mini adventures where you have a host of human forms. You may tackle them in any order and you are looking for a ring, a grommet and a spindle. There are various ways of returning to your goldfish state, but strive for the one that occurs after you have found what you are looking for.

To find the ring you will travel to a wooded area and meet Micky Blowtorch, an ex-operative, and his exploding parrot perched nearby, (cod be a red-herring). This is quite a tricky little puzzle, with only a few locations but timing is everything. Mistakes can be sole destroying.

The grommet is in an old abbey, at present occupied by hippies. You must look like one of them and take care not to attract their attention, as one or more of the Seven Deadly Fins may be among the group. There are only a limited number of locations to explore - just keep your eyes peeled.

Finally, the spindle is found in a recording studio where the deadly Seven are cutting their latest hit. Your first task here is to find a way of supplying the producer with copious amounts of coffee. Without this regular intake of stimulant he will make your life hell and you cannot get on with your investigation. Take a leaf out of his book and delegate!

When you reach Hydropolis you will take over the body of fish scientist and project leader, Dr Roach. Arriving in his apartment you will receive a reminder of his appointment with the university's principal at 10 o'clock. Just check that out in your fishofas (is this a Guppie adventure?) before you leave.

Travelling by underground during the rush hour can prove un-nerving, especially when you realise that the Seven Deadly Fins are probably all out to stop the project in any way they can. This is the largest section of the adventure, and getting your device working will involve some Heath Robinson efforts. With a bit of luck you'll end up with a bout of R and R (sorry VVM) back in that goldfish bowl.

There is plenty of delicious text to read and the graphics are up to Mag Roll's usual standard. It just seems a pity that apart from the initial brilliant screen all the fishy citizens of Hydropolis look like us. That loading screen is great, and the watery bubbles of the loading tuna must have taken some time to synthesie.

YOU can't carpt at the command interpreter, but I do get fed up with having to type whole words instead of just the first four or five letters so some single letter abbreviations help a bit..

Another first class adventure from Magnetic Scrolls, suitable for all adventurers with a sense of humour. Cypheric hints are given for the confused - even if the code does take an age to type in! Great value for 25 quid.



Fish! logo CU Amiga Superstar

Rainbird/Magnetic Scrolls
Amiga
£24.95

Water is evaporating faster than it is being replenished, and the planet of Aquaria is in danger of dying out. A top priority project is underway at the Opah University in the city of Hydropolis, where under the direction of the eminent Dr. Roach, a device is being built. The device is designed to teleport vast volumes of water to Aquaria, to reverse the flow, and then save the Aquarians from a catastrophic drought.

Unfortunately, an inter-dimensional anarchist group, The Seven Deadly Fins, have other ideas. They are plotting the demise of Hydropolis, and hope to achieve this by sabotaging the project. The University authorities, convinced that the project team has been infiltrated, call upon Roach to investigate and fillet out the intruder.

And so it came about, that as I swam innocently into the plastic castle that had dropped as if from nowhere into my bowl and settled gently on the gravel at the bottom, I was mistakenly assumed to be an applicant for the job of special investigator, and transported into the body of Roach, with the task of saving Aquaria.

I found myself in Roach's luxury water-conditioned apartment, and collecting my Fixhofax from the mantlepiece. I set off nearby Paddington underground station, to keep an important appointment at Opah.

After looking around a bit, things didn't look too bright. In the project room itself, a wallplan showed that of seven components required for the Device, only one was in stock - a wallplan. The missing parts included such items as a filter, a case, and a shelf, and I soon got the idea that suitable equivalents might be found in unlikely places. I found a few, too, but actually getting hold of them, however, was not so easy!

Steve, for example, who runs a second hand shop near Eelpout, was most insistent that the old case on display had already been sold. It was enough to make me decide to take the tube to Pickerel, and have a sniffer or two in the Hook Line and Sinker. It was a terrible journey - the train was full of guppies.

Fish is the latest game from Magnetic Scrolls, and their third this year. Full of fishy puns, you may by now have gathered that you play the part of a goldfish in a watery environment. So having a drink in the local is a whole new experience, involving placing a mask over ones face to inhale the intoxicating gases.

The construction of Fish is unusual. Before getting into the main part of the game, it is necessary to complete three mini-adventures. The fish-people of Aquaria, as well as having all the usual fishy appendages are endowed with armed and hands. As a mere goldfish, you are a plain fish, so the mini-adventures cast you I the role of a human to get you used to manipulating things when you eventually take the form of Dr. Roach. Solve all three mini-adventures, and you are judged, trained and capable of tackling the job for which the fish-god Dagon mistakenly thinks you have applied.

The mini adventures are really quite small, but nevertheless they take a while to work through. You must retrieve a key from each scenario - a recording studio, a ruined abbey, and a forest of Kerovnian nature. These can be entered in any order, and whilst pondering on a sticky problem in one, you can pop out of it and into one of the others.

The recording studio is where you first meet up with the ubiquitous Steve, but success in getting away with a key is elusive unless you can satisfy his insatiable thirst for coffee.
The forest has Pythonesque overtones. You won't find a pouch in its hollow stump - what you will find is a complete loony living inside it. Convinced he is famous for his philosophy that every man should find a bird, his own best friend is an exploding homing-pigeon with absolutely no sense of direction!

With graphics that have made Magnetic Scrolls adventures unique in their field, Fish is a completely off-beat affair. It will have you gurgling with mirth, until air-bubbles trickle up your cheeks.



Fish! logo Zzap! Sizzler

Magnetic Scrolls/Rainbird, Amiga £24.95

Thought you were the sole goldfish in the bowl, didn't you? Cod, what a prawn! You didn't anchovy think that Mission HQ would let an international information shark like you spend his well-earned rest mackerelling about in any old plaice. And you were looking forward to dace and dace of inactivity, too! Some bream! Well Rear Admiral Sir Playfair Panchax has his rays (ways, moron). When a tacky plastic castle plops into your bowl, you know you're in for a bass-ically active time. Oh well, you were starting to get a bit chubby, anyway. Perhaps you'd just better talk to Panchax - eel sort something trout.

Anyone who didn't laugh at those fishy puns can come and discuss the fine details later. Meanwhile, it turns out this is no ordinary crisis. In fact it's pretty damn serious. An inter-dimensional gang of anrachists - the Seven Deadly Fins - have warped themselves to a planet inhabited entirely by fish. Well, fish people to be exact. Er... yeah... apparently they have perfectly human torsos and thoroughly fishy legs - tails, I mean. Weird! (Those concerned about the mental health of the programmers should apply direct to Magnetic Scrolls).

The Fins are a dead nasty lot - they're planning to sabotage well-laid plans to build a device designed to irrigate Aquaria, a planet in danger of drying out. You need to recover the stolen parts of this secret device before it's too late.

Not for nothing are we called the greatest espionage organisation in the... er... well, in the near vicinity. Carefully research into warping (a painful form of molecular travel, more painful than being tricked out of your lunch by a billy-goat in red pajamas) has made it possible for you, agent extraordinaire 10, to travel to four different locations. As you (the parasite) pass through each of the warps (the last one is only accessible if you've sold the first three) your mind is transferred into the body of a living thing (the host) from the appropriate dimension... no wonder it hurts!

As you're still an inexperienced warper, you need to slightly gentle start - so the first three scenarios, accompanied by some melt-in-the-mouth graphics, aren't all that difficult to complete. All you have to do is avoid a maniac junky with a tendency to become angry (and boy, does he get angry!), weedle your way past an extremely loudmouthed record baron, and avoid the infamous Fins while dicing with death in the bowels of a crumbling abbey. Easy as falling off a log.

Loud noises and flashing lights break down the host-parasite interface but when this happens you get just thrown back into the bowl an older and a wiser fish. Fish don't have any arms, wise guy, so don't start trying to take anything back with you into the bowl - it doesn't work. Back among the pondweed you muster your resources and get ready to try again.

By the time you make it to warp 4, the going starts to get really tough. As Dr Roach, an eminent individual of some social standing (like me) you can take a paddle to Padlington station, visit the local guppy pub for a snifter (don't forget your fishofax), groove on down at the disco or just buy yourself some new and nifty clothes. Trouble is, the Fins are hot on your trail - unless you outwit them and manage to avoid all situations designed to break down your precious interface you might end up suffering a fate worse than sharing a tin with a team of skinhead sardines or being mashed into a pot of anchovy paste.

As a top inter-warp spy with more letters to your name than you can remember (let alone write), no puzzle is too hard for you. That's lucky because this is one goldfish bowl that has more than the average number of wicked twists. Just when you think you're getting some where you become a candidate for entry into the next tin of catfood - and you won't get any holidays there. Even the sub-games have enough substance for you to get your teeth into. There's always some kind of logic to a solution even if occasionally the reasoning is pretty warped (geddit?).

The parser is up to Magnetic Scrolls usual high standards. Most variations of a command are recognized and there are loads of abbreviations: L for LOOK, X for EXAMINE and so on. You can even summon up a list of pronouns available at any one time by typing PN. There isn't all that much scope for interactions, but then interactions isn't always all what it's cracked up to be. What's the point of having loads of potentially interactive characters when they don't actually contribute that much to the game? You can never really converse with NPCs (just ask them questions) so there's no reason they should be included just for their own sake.

You still have to enter a separate command to open specific doors when it's quite obvious you can walk through them (I'm really sick of bashing my nose against doors) but as there aren't as many fiddly situations as you find in, say Jinxter, that doesn't matter too much. Who cares anyway when almost anything you type in gets an appropriately fishy response?

It's getting a bit boring really. Every Magnetic Scrolls adventure gets praised to the skies, wins a thousand (or thereabouts) awards and gets an incredibly high mark in all the magazines. You'd think they could produce a dud once in a while just for variety's sake (what do you mean, you can't imagine that - just use your brain will you?). Well, so far they haven't, so Fish! is just going to have to get another rave review. Altogether, it's slick, subtle and sparkles with subaquatic humour. What more could your average haddock want?

(Can I have my turbo-power totally infallible and hyper guaranteed billy-goat flame-thrower now, Anita?).