Did you ever invest time and money in one of those puzzle mags which little the shops at airports and railway stations? Well, this mystical version contains some 80 puzzles with everythin the dedicated solo-freak could wish for, from anagrams and word searches to reflex-testing and code-breaking.
Theoretically at least, there is a plot. There is a bunch of reading to be done but do not skimp on this, otherwise you will merely find yourself moving from puzzle to puzzle with no rhyme or reason. Not unsurprisingly the story centres upon the fool and his errand.
At the beginning of the game you, the fool, are presented with the Sun's map. The Sun is a tricky chappie and does not want you to have all the clues in one go. Unfortunately, there are only 21 sections of the map available, they are all in chaos and they mean doodley-squat without the remaining 79. Quite simply, you have to solve 80 puzzles to complete the chart. On completion of each one several others are opened up to you and new pieces of the map come to light.
You can either move through the puzzles in the order in which they appear, or you can use the menu bar, at the top of the screen, to flip between the five sections, each of which contains a number of tricks.
Three of these puzzles really do catch the attention. One should be avoided by anyone who has an adverse reaction to strobe lights, or quick perlican crossing for that matter. It involves chasing numbered squares around the screen and the clicking on them with the mouse pointer.
The second sees you competing with an 'old man' at an arcane game of cards in which the rules are never explained.
The third sees you avoiding the red blob of death as it comes shooting out at you from the hidden recesses of the screen. Again you have to click on it with the pointer. A hint here is to remember the menus.
The other 77 puzzles are a mixture of the absurdly easy - make an anagram from the letters OWOD, fer gawd's sake - to the irritatingly irritating: word searches with vegetables, would you believe. Still, pitching conundrums at a level which everyone will appreciate is a difficult task.
Once you have completed all the tasks and made sense out of the Suns's map you are treated to a lengthy animated end sequence, which chronicles the history of the Fool and gives you a warm tingly feeling inside.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Graphically the game is quite a treat. There are sections which entail rearranging pleasantly drawn pictures from a jumble of constituent parts. Others require the screen to be illuminated with all the colours of the rainbow for now particular reason. As for sound, well, that is another story entirely. Dull, dull, dull. Loads of late 1970s beeping and farting with not much else. It is a shame really, because the mediaeval feel of the piece could have benefited quite strongly from some lute music, or even the occasional human voice.
Once you have cracked the really easy, fairly simple, and reasonable cunning puzzles, which make up 60 per cent of the game, you have two choices: either plough through the word searches and other frustrating outings in order to complete the mapl or wait for a torrentially rainy day and get back to them. The game is undoubtedly addictive for the first day or two, after which it begins to wane. Not to be binned, however, as the card game makes an interesting section in itself.
There is supposed to be an element of strategy to it but this only really becomes apparent after the puzzles are solved. The most positive feature of The Fool's Errand is the sheer number and variety of the puzzles. Get some mates round for the evening and see if you can crack it in one go. Aside from some qualms about the thin graphics and sound, the game is an intelligent use of the machine and should fire the imagination of the seasoned adventurer or student of the not-so-quite-