Emerald Isle

Reviewed by John Sweeney


Issue 19

Jan/Feb 86

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Level 9
32k Cassette 6.95






Level 9 have produced six previous adventures for the Atari: the Colossal Adventure / Adventure Quest / Dungeon Adventure Trilogy, the Snowball / Return to Eden / (Worm in Paradise - may be out by the time you read this) Trilogy and the Lords of Time. Many of you will therefore be familiar with the value for money you get for their excellent adventures, normally priced at 9.95. They say that 'Emerald Isle is intended to be slightly easier to solve' and is therefore priced at only 6.95.

The game starts with you marooned on an island in the Bermuda Triangle, the only way off appears to be by becoming Ruler. How to do this is not immediately obvious - still you're bound to find out eventually, and in the meantime you may as well explore as much as you can, and find as many treasures as possible - they are bound to come in useful! Having explored the first twenty or so locations you come to find yourself faced with a number of problems: how do you start the clock? - why won't the Butler stay and talk to me? - where is the key to the gate? - why is there a letter 'W' cut into the lawn in the Hanging Gardens? - how do I read these notices in foreign languages or tiny print? - what is the invisible barrier that is preventing me from going West from the treasure room? - what am I supposed to do with a boat-building manual, a glue-pot, and four assorted coins? - should I risk going into the dark without a lamp? - why don't they provide a disk version for the Atari so that I can SAVE more easily?

Read the instructions again - Aha - 'Don't be too afraid of the dark' it says on the box - maybe that's a clue!

The rest of the above questions (apart from the last one!) mainly require patience. One very frustrating aspect to the game is the fact that a couple of times you solve all sorts of dependent problems, one leading to another as they do, and finally reach the end of a trail only to discover... nothing! The Museum and the Office fall into this category - but never fear, carry on with the game as though you don't care that you still don't understand what is happening. With enough patience all will become clear in the end.

Some of the problems seem insoluble, but have faith - there IS a way to climb the two slippery slopes without slipping, it IS possible to see underwater, and it IS possible to read the small inscription (the lens is actually in full view, you have probably walked past it a few times!). Two minor hints: EXAMINE everything - some very ordinary objects are not what they seem; and you never need to type more than two words.

There are unfortunately a couple of minor bugs. The first actually helps you - you can pick up objects in the dark even if you haven't the slightest idea what they are! (No of course I'm not going to tell you how, but it IS possible to solve the game WITHOUT doing this.) To compensate they have put in a bug which can delay you indefinitely: you should eventually find a plaque with a hole. You will probably try inserting items into the hole. If you try INSERT DUBLOONS and it says 'It doesn't fit. Try a coin', DON'T BELIEVE IT! This is a standard response associated with the dubloons, and should have been suppressed in this instance. The item you have to insert is very, VERY much bigger than a coin! I was also rather disappointed by the number of times you had to travel vast distances to very little purpose. There are five main areas which extend a long way from the central beach, and too much of the game is spent trekking from the far end of one of these areas to the far end of another area, via the beach. The placing of artefacts at the opposite end of the world from where they are required is occasionally interesting, but seemed a trifle overworked in this game. Further long and unnecessary journeys are necessitated by the fact that there are far too many items to carry. Allowing more to be carried (perhaps by some devious means?) would have removed some of the drudgery from the game.

All that aside it is still a very enjoyable game and excellent value for money, with over 200 locations and about 60 artefacts. Anyone who enjoys playing adventures will find the low price an offer very difficult to refuse. Even if it IS slightly easier than some of Level 9's previous offerings it will still keep you occupied for a considerable time, and the 30K or so of text contains plenty of amusing touches! For anyone who has not yet taken the plunge into adventuring, and can't afford to buy an Infocom adventure such as Wishbringer, Emerald Isle offers an excellent introduction to a very enjoyable pastime.