Books Issue 20 Contents Issue 20

mind games

Quentin Heath goes in search of gold nuggets in Greedy Gulch with an unusual bunch of adversaries

Beginners' adventure in the wild west

MANY ADVENTURE games contain fierce adversaries such as vampires, werewolves and slugs. Greedy Gulch, however, contains none of those and the only adversaries with which the player has to contend are natural hazards such as the desert and an unstable mine shaft.

It would be helpful if I detailed a complete list of the objects you have to find but this month I will give you only some gentle nudges in the proper direction, as Phipps Associates, the manufacturer of the adventure, has informed me that it is for beginners. All Hobbit-hardened players should have no problems.

An incomplete inventory of objects includes a gun, a lamp, some matches and a hat. All those items make sense with the object of your quest a nugget in the gold mine located in the centre of a vast desert.

As the town is the focal point of the game you have to start in the main street, where you should be able to see the sheriff's office and the hotel. Make sure that you visit all locations, especially the hotel lobby.

The decor of the lobby may not be interesting but you should walk to the reception desk, which is deserted, and look at the register. You will find something interesting in it. That vague clue may not offer you much help but I can assure you that when you have wandered round the town for several turns the name you find at the hotel will click into place and provide you with a clearer picture of what you are trying to do.

Your encounter with the register in the hotel should give you some idea of how objects have been spread logically around the locations of the adventure. I have given a brief list of some of the objects which can be found in the town.

Pairing the locations which the computer will give you either on the graphic displays or from the text below them on the screen, you should be able to tell where the other objects are located. For instance, you might find some kind of weapon in the sheriff's office and another more practical one in the blacksmith's forge.

You will soon become adept at collecting objects but do not be lulled into a false sense of security when the computer tells you that you cannot pick up any more items. There is an object in almost every location and that is more than you can carry.

'Your encounter with the register in the hotel should give you some idea of how objects have been spread around locations of the adventure. Pairing locations will help find the objects'.

The best way to collect all objects is to pick them up from the individual locations and carry them to the outskirts of the town where the desert begins. You must have every item or you could lose your way in the desert or be thirsty. Both events mean certain death.

I have noticed that many adventurers take objects and do not appreciate that they could be connected with other items which will be found in the game. There is reluctance to return to places which have already been visited but Greedy Gulch will teach you that in some cases it is necessary.

There are at least three objects linked with each other in the game and because the adventure is for beginners they are all easily linked when you have found them. The only clue I will give as to the items is that they should keep you enlightened during the game, even if they do not keep you cool in the desert.

The language structure of the program is simple and, as a result, communication with the computer is easy. Like most early adventures the program uses the word pattern of verb followed by an object. It will respond quickly to commands such as GET AXE but has difficulty with conjunctions such as AND.

The best approach is to think of the easiest way of saying something; never ask a question and keep your commands within the context of the situation in which you are playing. By observing those rules you will waste less time.

Greedy Gulch is an adventure in which the number of turns you take is important. That does not mean that you have to finish the adventure within a number of turns but to act a certain number of times. For instance, you may get nothing out of the pump in the centre of the ghost town for two turns. You need to crank the handle of the pump a few times before anything will happen. If you do not you will look like a drip.

Once you have water and all the weapons and objects you need, you can prepare to leave town and go into the desert where, after much searching of the soul - and searching for water - you will find the mine.

If you have not picked up all the items in the town, or if you have missed the vital item, you will land in an area from which you cannot escape. The desert will claim you. The object you must have in your possession when you jump over the ravine is something which will show you the way. It is easy to become lost if you forget it.

If you are lost in the desert and you are not in the place of no return, there is a simple way out of your dilemma. The only thing you can lose if you fail in your attempt to get back to the original location is one of the carefully-collected objects.

Drop an object at your present location. From there you should try to go in a circle. If you cannot go one way, try the other. At some point, two moves after you dropped your object you should arrive back at the location of the item. From the centre of the desert you must go south and then west to reach the cave. With the knowledge of the circular direction which you took and the number of turns which you needed to get back to the object which you dropped you should be able to determine where you are.

If you are still having difficulty the computer will give you a hint about the general direction in which you should go. I see no harm in letting you know this now, so what you should do is look at Zeek's map. That will not give you the complete answer but it will point you in the general direction of the mine.

You may still be wondering how to carry all those objects around with you on your back when there are at least two objects you cannot carry.

'It took me a long time to decide the map was important'

To take all the objects to the desert you must make some trips back to town. I can assure you that there is a way back, even though it is along a winding kind of route. When you get back, pick up your objects and jump across the ravine again until you reach the place where you have been hoarding all the items. You will have to make several trips but they are worth your while.

One object not to drop before you return is the map which you must have to get back into the correct part of the desert. Do not make the mistake I made several times when playing the adventure; it took me a long time to decide that the map was important.

Another reason for taking the long route from the desert back to town is the need, by your player-character, for water. Do not forget that you have only a small bottle of liquid and you will need that after several steps into the desert. You should be called upon only once to drink water. If the computer asks you more than once you have either been very unlucky or have been going round in circles. The best way to solve that problem is to find an oasis which you should reach if you are on the correct track for the mine.

Your encounter with the entrance to the mine will be sudden. Do not jump in immediately or you could die very quickly. The mine has only two or three locations to it but they are dangerous. You will need at least one of the weapons you collected in town before you pass on to find out the meaning of the Adventurer's Delight.

Phipps Associates provided me with a map to help with the adventure. That, however, provided more problems than it solved, so the clues I have given are more from experience than from cheating with a reviewer's prop.

The game is difficult and provided me with hours of frustration. I was very close to finishing, only to find that at the last location a nasty-looking reptile appears from nowhere.

Next month I will be in festive mode, looking at some mind games you might like for Christmas.

Books Issue 20 Contents Issue 20

Sinclair User
November 1983