Professional, Originally Released On DFS 1900 Disc
Game Type : Text Adventure; Disc-based
Author : Jonathan Partington
Standalone Release(s) : None
Compilation Release(s) : 1990: AVON and MURDAC Double-Pack, Topologika, £9.95
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128
Supplier : TOPOLOGIKA, 1 South Harbour, Harbour Village, Penryn,
CORNWALL TR10 8LR
Disc compatibility : CDFS E00, DFS E00
'All hail, great master, grave sir! Hail! Welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out singing...'
In this light-hearted but immensely challenging look at The Bard's world throught he keyboard of modern man, you find yourself, after watching too many Shakespeare plays (or perhps reading them) wandering around a strange land. Here they use a richer language than usual and some of the scenes remind you of certain Shakespeare plays. How you are going to return succussfully to the present day is something that you will have to find out for yourself!
Why does the adventure take place on three different dates? What is the significance of the lady Portia's caskets? Why does Yorick sometimes say "Golesida" and sometimes something else? Why do you suddenly find yourself wearing an ass's head? These are just some of the tantalising puzzles that you'll meet when you welcome AVON...An exhaustive knowledge of the Shakepearean Canon is not necessary as, in most cases, just the problems rather than the solutions are taken from Shakespeare. If you get really stuck, Topologika's much-praised on-line 'Help' system is there to stop the sighing...
AVON is Jonathan Partington's first release since his best-selling KINGDOM OF HAMIL (also available from Topologika).
Little Seedbottom Hotel Topologika
ENGLAND 1st April 1989
My Dear Aunt Jocasta,
How are you? How is Uncle George? I hope you got my letter from Paris. The Louvre was just amazing, and the hamburgers in the fast food opposite Gare du Nord were nearly as good as yours.
I will be eternally grateful to you both for enabling me to see Europe. Despite having been born and brought up in the States, I still feel, like you, so British! Seeing the land of one's ancestors in one's youth is surely better than hanging on for one's retirement. It's a shame your health wasn't up to the trip.
Thank you for your card. Yes, I had an interesting twentieth birthday. I treated myself to an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's town. 'Treat' is probably not the correct word. It was the weirdest trip I've ever known.
It began like any other. According to the coach driver, we had six hours free. I tried to stay with Araminta (that girl I wrote you about from Paris) but she went off with some 'Nam veteran.
Anyway, Ann Hathaway's cottage was out of this world. I had a cup of English tea, then bought some postcards (I've put one in with this letter to save a stamp), then found this guaint old antique shop. That's when things started to go wrong. Well, not exactly wrong. They just started to, well, happen. I'll try to explain.
This old, brass cauldron in the shop window caught my attention as I walked by. The shop was run by these old ladies, and when I said that I was interested in viewing the cauldron, they flipped. I mean they seemed to think I really did want it, and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Of course there was no way that I could have shipped it back to the States. It was even more enormous than that old rocking chair you used to have! (Did Uncle George ever fix it for you?)
My refusal seemed to offend them. They began to cluck and moan. I felt like I was in a Spielberg movie! I was out of there quick, I can tell you. I could swear one of them was after me with a broom. Outside the shop was this enormous pine tree which seemed to groan - yes, groan - as I ran past it. I took refuge in a pet shop a couple of blocks away, where an asp tried to bite me! I dived into the museum (strange to be in a country where people have to pay to check that no one has run off with their own heritage). I got out of there when an ass's head looked me up and down.
Well, all this had brought on a migraine, so I asked a policeman where I could find a drug store. He looked at me kinda strange, as did the chap in the drug store, shoving this green, bubbling phial under the counter as he sold me some pills.
Outside, the spring sun was still up, so I headed for the river. The Avon was as beautiful as Fodar's said it would be. I began to feel a whole lot better, strolling along, letting the pills and the fresh English air do their thing. Maybe I'd imagined it all. Maybe I was just overtired. I'd sure done a heck of a lot of travelling in the last few days. Maybe it was all just a bad dream, and I'd wake up in a minute or two back on the coach.
I must have taken a wrong turning. Suddenly I had the strangest of feelings. Don't ask me how, but right then I began to realise what was going on, and the thought sent a shock down my spine. Before my very eyes, the scenery was changing. The woods across the river looked like Scotland, the streets might have been Egypt, or London or Venice - anywhere. There was nothing I could get my bearings from. Modern Stratford was leaving me behind.
Even the ground at my feet looked different, unnatural. It was made of boards. I wondered if I was on some sort of platform or stage. Maybe I'd strayed onto some sort of riverside film set, I thought: that would explain some things. But the whole area looked too realistic: those were real trees, real buildings, and across the river, the suddenly muddy, boiling river, were real people.
But wait: why were they pointing at me? It was horrible; I hate people staring at me. This was worse: they were talking about me too, their voices drifting across the churning water: "Marry, 'tis a strange churl, that standeth over there. Methinks it knoweth not the time of day!"
Then I realised something even more horrible. Their clothing was completely different to mine. Where I was wearing Levis and my old football shirt (I know you disapprove of that, Auntie, but when one is travelling) these olde worlde hippies had on long flowing garments that swung stiffly in the increasingly chill breeze. It felt like winter, was winter, and it would be dark within minutes.
To cut a long story short, I was standing in a world that, although it was at that moment definitely NOT Stratford-upon-Avon, still had this Shakespearian flavour. I'd been transported into The Bard's world - the world of his plays - and players.
You're thinking your nephew's gone nutty, I suppose, that Europe has gone to my head. Please please believe me, Auntie. This really happened. I had to use all my wits to get back to the modern woruld. Luckily, I didn't need to know all that much about the Bard himself - or his works.
Not time for any more right now, Auntie. I'll write again in a day or so. Don't worry about me. How is Uncle George getting on in Kashmir?
Your loving nephew,
The top line contains a short description of where you are, together with your current score. The bottom section displays your current location in greater detail, together with your own input and the game's responses.
GO NORTH, THEN EAT THE PIG, E, SW, IN
GET ALL BUT THE DUCK AND GOBLET, AND LEAVE
GET - takes the first relevant object
DROP - similar
TAKE THE PIG AND UNICORN, WAIT
HELLO - equivalent to saying it
LOOK - gives a full description of where you are
SAVE - stores your current position on disk
RESTORE - brings back the saved game
RESTART - begins at the beginning
QUIT or STOP
VERBOSE - makes program always give the full description of where you are
NORMAL - makes program give full description the first time you arrive at a new place, with short descriptions for later visits
INVENTORY - lists your current possessions
You may be puzzled why the EXAMINE command is of only limited use. The game is conceived in such a way that in solving the puzzles you are not involved in merely happening to discover things about the objects. It is only by manipulating them where possible, or combing them in some way, that the relevant features are revealed. Some locations, however, do contain hidden depths...
If you get completely stuck, on-line help is available by typing HELP. Look up your problem on the list of hints and give the hint number you require.
You will then be given some sort of clue. The HELP facility is structured in stages so that you will initially get a partial clue, and will be given due warning if the entire puzzle is about to be revealed to you!
Keyword AVON Hints Hint
ANGLER What can I do with the angler? 10
ARDEN How can I get through Arden? 65
What can I do at the clearing in Arden? 66
ASP How can I avoid being killed by the asp? 39
ASS How can I avoid having an ass's head put on me? 33
BANQUET What is the purpose of the banquet? 49
BARGE How can I get off the barge? 40
BEACH What can I do at the beach? 35
BEAR How can I get past the bear? 21
BIRNHAM What can I do in Birnham Wood? 51
BLOOD How can I remove the smell of blood from my hands? 48
BUTT I can't get past the butt of Malmsey wine. 7
CAPITOL How can I avoid being killed in the Capitol? 32
CASKETS How can I tell in which order to open the caskets...
...on January 6th? 17
...on March 15th? 31
...on June 24th? 42
CAULDRON Which object should I shoose from the witches' cauldron...
...on January 6th? 1
...on March 15th? 30
...on June 24th? 46
CELLAR How can I use the information from the Boar's Head cellar?20
CHEST How can I get the large chest at the beach? 36
How can I open the small chest? 67
CLIFF How do I get down the cliff? 56
COLOSSUS How do I get past the colossus? 58
DRINK I can't win the drinking contest. 6
DROWNING How can I avoid drowning in the river? 29
DUCATS How can I avoid having to give back the ducats? 38
DUNSINNIN How can I get back from Dunsinnin? 52
FARM I don't know what to do at the farm. 3
FOG How can I get through the fog? 55
GAOL How can I get out of gaol? 24
GHOST What can I do with the Scotman's ghost? 50
GOLDSMITH How can I avoid the goldsmith taking my ducats as payment?62
How can I avoid the goldsmith taking back the chain? 63
How can I get past the goldsmith when I'm carrying 64
neither the chain nor the ducats?
GRAVEYARD How can I get east of the graveyard? 41
HOUSE How can I get into the house? 25
How can I avoid being killed in the house? 28
HOVEL How can I get into the hovel? 27
HUNCHBACK How can I help the kingly hunchback? 34
ILLYRIA How can I tell which house to enter in Illyria Court? 15
LEAR How should I advise King Lear? 19
MAZE I can't get through the maze of mountain paths. 2
MELTING How do I avoid my flesh melting? 44
MOOR How can I avoid being killed by the Moor? 14
MOOR'S CODE How can I decode the Moor's code? 16
NAME What name should I give when I'm asked? 61
OBJECTS Tell me the use of a particular object. 69
PASSWORD How can I interpret the jester's password? 18
PHIAL What should I do with the phial? 23
PINE What can I do with the howling pine? 26
PORPENTINE What is a porpentine? 59
How do I get the porpentine? 60
SAVE Why is saving sometimes regarded as an "ill deed"? 22
SHIELD How can I get the shield from the Scotsman? 54
SHREW How can I get the shrew? 37
ARROWS How can I avoid being killed by slings and arrows? 53
SPEAR What do I do with the spear? 8
STATUE What should I do with the statue? 5
TAVERN How do I get into the tavern? 57
TREASURE What should I do with my valuable items? 4
I can't find all the treasure. 70
COUNTRY How can I get through the undiscovered country? 45
VASTY DEEP What can I do at the Vasty Deep? 11
How can I call spirits from the Vasty Deep? 12
How can I avoid being killed by the Vasty Deep spirits? 13
WARM How do I avoid feeling warm? 43
WATCHMAN How can I get past the watchman? 68
WITCHES How can I persuade the witches to give me more than one
items at once? 47
WORM What can I do with the worm? 9
Instructions' Source : AVON (Topologika) Instruction Leaflet
Review (Electron User - Double Review Of AVON and MURDAC) - "The Bard's Tale"
Topologika is a software house that has steadily gained a first class reputation in the provision of adventure games and educational software. It's not surprising really when you remember that the stable of writers includes such luminaries as Jonathan (KINGDOM OF HAMIL) Partington, Jon (ACHETON) Thackray and Peter (PHILOSOPHER'S QUEST) Killworth.
Just issued is a double-game blockbuster from the combined talents of Jonathan Partington and Jon Thackray. The disc contains two quite different text only adventures that delight my purist heart: AVON and MURDAC.
The package consists of the usual neat folder containing the disc, two leaflets introducing the background to each adventure, two sealed envelopes embellished with the admonition DON'T BE TEMPTED - concealing clue sheets - and last, but not least hour upon hour of fun and frustration.
I'll begin with AVON, since that should be regarded as the A side of this particular release. As the title hints, it is a brilliant romp that pays tribute to that Swan of Avon, that Bard illustrious, Will Shakespeare no less.
As a tourist from the United States, here you are in Stratford absorbing the atmosphere when slowly but steadily the magic of history begins to take effect - as the introduction puts it, "There was nothing I could get my bearings from. Modern Stratford was leaving me behind."
And so you suddenly find yourself in the following location: "You are standing on a flat plain. From here it seems that all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances to the north, south, east and west."
With these words you are pitched headlong into a world redolent of Shakespearean references and allusions, many extremely funny, and a number of puzzles that need deductive and observational power to solve them rather than literary know-how.
I strongly recommend a good wander round the many locations that you can visit without needing to solve any puzzles first. I am delighted to say that Jonathan here follows the philosophy I heartily approve of - he doesn't pack the early stages of this adventure with puzzles that must be solved before you can advance any further. Other, lesser writers, or would-be writers, please note and follow the example set by these experts.
The only tiny problem that has to be overcome early on is that of finding some way of seeing in the dark - and those three charming ladies on the blasted heath have the answer to that. And, what's more, are quite willing to see eye to eye with you regarding your need.
Another acquisition which will be useful from very early on in the game is the equivalent to the packing-case used as a storage medium in DUNGEON ADVENTURE - and you should remember what use Sir John Falstaff made of it in The Merry Wives of Windsor, too.
The language is at times lyrical and at others acts as a vehicle for the zany humour that characterises this adventure. I really must give a few examples to whet your appetites:
"A rather dull-looking constable appears, cries 'Havoc!' and lets slip the dogs of war. In fact a small Chihuahua appears and stands barking at you. "Drug squad," says the constable. 'I must search you for certain substances.'"
"You sit down at the feast. To your horror a ghastly vision appears and shakes its gory locks at you. It is the ghost of the Scotsman you have so foully slain! You stand and address this shadow, this unreal mockery, which only you can see. This displaces the mirth of the guests, who stand not upon the order of their going, but go at once. The ghost avaunts and quits your sight, melting into the wall to your north-east."
"You are at the centre of the wood. To the south is a cottage which probably belongs to a retired criminal, for it bears the name Dunsinnin."
The parser is of the kind we have grown to accept as normal for a sophisticated adventure from a top flight author. It happily accepts multiple input such as GO NORTH, EAT THE PIE, OPEN DOOR, IN and can deal with exclusions such as TAKE EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE GOBLET.
It's very helpful when mapping to be given a long location description first time there and a shorter one on subsequent visits, but you can arrange to have the full description every time by entering the command VERBOSE.
At the heart of the adventure - apart from the treasures to be collected - are a number of fascinating puzzles which will have many of you muttering away to yourselves as you try to solve them.
For me, the most fascinating was the casket problem: Lady Portia - from The Merchant of Venice - has three caskets, of lead, silver and gold.
The problem is working out in which order to open them so as to get the real prize as against the booby prize. You'll encounter this problem three times, since the action of the game takes place on three different dates - January 6, March 15 and June 24 - and a potion is your passport to time travel.
There are a whole host of less complex puzzles, some of which need applied common sense and some a little general knowledge. Thus, you can pacify a musical gaoler provided you know who is his favourite composer.
Similarly, you have to drink that old toper Sir John Falstaff under the table - which is perfectly feasible provided you use your loaf.
It's possible to get thoroughly pie-eyed on the Ides of March, but at the same time it could turn out to be a lifesaver. I'd also recommend that you indulge in some asinine behaviour similar to that of King Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in the Book of Daniel.
A couple of final hints for this superb adventure: The command WAIT is invaluable at certain points in the game - and don't be afraid to draw your bow at a venture.
AVON is a game I can gladly recommend to expert and novice alike.
Moving on to THE MONSTERS OF MURDAC, which is billed as a free inclusion, we come to an adventure of a very different type. Personally, I think MURDAC should be sold in its own right.
I should say right away that this is not for beginners, being designed to bewitch those who rate themselves as competent or expert. The initial scenario consists of 14 locations only, but since one is a locked house that contains a cellar you needn't worry. In fact, there's around 70 locations in all.
However, while careful mapping is essential, the chief pleasure has to do with solving quite complex puzzles rather than exploring exotic locations.
The opening problem was, to my mind, very difficult, since it involved a minimum move sequence to locate a building site while something could still be done. However, if you are successful, I would refer you to Psalm 98 verse 7 as found in the Book of Common Prayer - and urge you to remember how Joshua fought the battle of Jericho.
Also in the opening sequence, a sword needs to be obtained. Remember how King Arthur got Excalibur? Well, making the appropriate noises could well go you the same sort of favour.
Perhaps the chief puzzle in MURDAC is working out how to free the wizard's daughter from her roll-guarded cell (shades of TWIN KINGDOM VALLEY) without ruining your chances of solving other problems as well. You'll need to be a master of disguise, totally trustworthy and also adept at timing.
There's a lovely description of the place where you find the wizard:
"You are at the top of the hill, which falls away steeply on three sides. In the distance you can see various curious scenes, including a disused shooting gallery, a garden from which giant rocks are taking off, a large cornfield, a giant spider's web and a distant bungalow by the seaside. The path leads back downwards from these awe-inspiring sights."
If I tell you that the spider's web is a reference to QUONDAM, can you work out what the other adventures are?
One important objective in the game is working out where to keep your treasures - but don't deposit them before you are sure you won't need them again. They tell me that cold showers are good for you, but a hot one can be invaluable for getting a monkey off your back.
Finally, both adventures contain mazes - with a difference. One in AVON is redrawn every time you go there, and not a single one can be mapped by dropping things. How times have changed.
This two-disc game is an absolute must for any serious adventurer.
* * * Second Opinion * * * (Electron User)
I prefer adventures which concentrate more on puzzle solving and less on mapping a large number of locations and AVON and MURDAC fit the bill.
Presentation .................... 9
Atmosphere ..................... 10
Puzzlement ...................... 9
Value for money ................ 10
Overall ......................... 9
ELECTRON USER 6.12