The Fool's Errand logo

MILES COMPUTING £24.95 * Mouse and keyboard

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.

LASTING INTEREST

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.

JUDGEMENT

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-so-straightforward in life.



Ein Narr auf reisen

The Fool's Errand logo

Auf der leicht überdimensionierten Box sind neben einigen Tarot-Karten zwei beschwörend ausgebreitete Hände über einer Kristallkugel zu sehen. Geht es hier am Ende um Wahrsagerei? Nö, eher nicht.

Ein fröhlich durch die Lande ziehender Narr ist die Hauptfigur bei diesem ungewöhnlichen Spiel. Er versucht, die vierzehn Schätze der Welt zu finden und (als ob das noch nicht schwierig genug wäre!) gleichzeitig die Karte der Sonne wieder richtig zusammenzusetzen. Beides gelingt nur dann, wenn er die über 80 Rätsel löst, die ihm auf seiner Wanderschaft begegnen. Und weil er halt bloß ein einfacher Narr ist. Soll ihn der Spieler dabei unterstützen.

Die ganze Angelegenheit erinnert ein wenig an die bekannten Rätselhefte: Es gilt, Bilderrätsel zu lösen, versteckte Wörter zu finden, Labyrinthe zu durchqueren und dergleichen mehr. Unter anderem gehört zu diesem Sammelsurium auch ein kleines Tarot-Kartenspiel, das hier allerdings nichts mit Wahrsagerei zu tun hat.

Die einzelnen Rätsel sind (meist) recht einfach. Probieren geht dabei oftmals vor Studieren. Hat man eines geknackt, gibt es neue Geschichte von der abenteuerlichen Reise unseres Haus- und Hofnarren, sowie weitere Rätsel.

Die Grafik ist grade mal Durchschnitt und kann ihre Herkunft vom Atari ST nicht verleugnen, Soundeffekte sind gar absolute Mangerlware. Die Maussteuerung reagiert ein bißchen ruckelig, aber man kann damit leben.

Leider ist das Spiel komplett in englisch, wer sich also mit dieser schönen Sprache schwertut, wird kein großes Vergnügen mit dem rätselhaften Wandernarren haben. Naja, allzuviel verpaßt man hier so oder so nicht... (wh)



The Fool's Errand logo CU Amiga Screen Star

MILES COMPUTING
PRICE: £39.99 (IMPORT)

A curse has been put on the land by the high priestess. While she was about it she also hid fourteen treasures. Finally, to round off a good day's work, the priestess plunged the four kingdoms into all-out war. She then, presumably, put the kettle on and put her feet up.

You? You are a fool. In the nicest possible way, of course. You must roam the land, searching for wisdom, solving puzzles and finding out how to deal with the nasty priestess. Fool's Errand is classed as an adventure, but this game is like no adventure you have ever played.

The inspiration behind FE appears to come from the Tarot deck. At the beginning of the game you are allowed to access 21 different areas which correspond to the mahor arcane of the Tarot. When you select an area from the menu you are presented with a piece of scroll that detail a fragment of the overall story, along with a puzzle. Once the puzzle has been solved you can access another area. And so on through 80 levels.

The puzzles that come with each scroll fragment are variations on the classic puzzles we all know and love/hate. You will find crosswords, jigsaws, anagrams, word puzzles, button puzzles and logic puzzles among many others. Once you attempt the blessed things you will be irrevocably hooked.

Ever seen or played one of those single computer games that appear rudimentary but become so damn addictive you do not get to bed until the birds start singing outside your window? Well FE is a similar experience - only this time it was late afternoon the following day before I got some much needed sleep.

As well as allowing you access to further puzzles, success at each of the 80 areas gives you a piece of the sun's map - which is another puzzle (never ends, does it?). Once the Sun's map has been completed you have the option of printing out the entire story. Take a while to digest this because it is full of clues for the second half of the game. Then it is off to find the fourteen lost treasures and, finally, the confrontation with the high priestess herself.

I must admit to being dumbstruck at the depth, quality and addictiveness of gameplay offered by Fool's Errand. You get a great sense of achievement whenever you complete one of the puzzles. Better still, when you have completed the game you are treated to a four minute animation sequence. Buy this game now - you would be a 'fool' not to!