Savage Pond & Cloak of Death

Reviewed by Jim Short


Issue 24

Nov/Dec 86

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(both Bug Byte)
48K Cassette 2.99 each 

1/2 Players
1/2 Joysticks/Keyboard

Bug Byte are a company who have been producing computer software almost since the dawn of time. In the early days they concentrated on machines like the Vic-20 (a steam-driven antique unit which is, thankfully, no longer with us) but now, in their infinite wisdom, they have gotten round to producing Atari software at long last. Slightly misleading in the case of SAVAGE POND though, as this is an old Starcade game and Bug Byte have acquired the rights to this game rather than produced it themselves.


In SAVAGE POND you control a tadpole, of all things, and your aim is to try and build up a healthy colony of frogs. Worms, dragonfly eggs and amoeba have to be eaten (not a diet I'd fancy!) in order to stay alive and continue along the path of evolution until, finally, you reach the serious business of frog-breeding. As the name implies, SAVAGE POND is far from friendly and hazards abound. Firstly there are vicious predators such as hydra, jellyfish and voracious dragonfly nymphs who regard a tadpole in much the same way as we regard a fat steak, spiders, waterfleas, bloodworms and other skin-crawling nasties. And then there's Mother Nature's deadliest enemy (us you fool!) equipped with a nice drum of radio-active waste to pollute the water - you've guessed it this pond's sighted next door to Sellafield!! After making a token attempt to battle through all this the best advice I can give is, if you believe in reincarnation, then don't come back as a tadpole!


SAVAGE POND has been available for as long as I can remember but there are possibly many new Atari owners who have never heard of it, plus one or two of *be older ones? It deserves more recognition if only because it oozes originality - there's not another game quite like it. SAVAGE POND is ageless in terms of computer software. It doesn't fit into any set category (platform, shoot 'em up, adventure etc.) so it can never become unfashionable. Under Bug Byte it retails at a paltry 2.99. Believe me, it'll be the best three quid you'll ever spend!


Also received for review - CLOAK OF DEATH, which is a graphical adventure written entirely in BASIC. The scenario is a familiar one. You've downed too many pints at the local tavern and, full of Dutch courage (not to mention Danish lager!), you agree to spend the night in an old house which has been empty for 30 years. The door slams shut behind you and, try as you might, you can't open it again. And so the scene is set.....


The program recognises 67 verbs and 94 nouns and, as adventure's go, it is reasonable enough with lots of head scratching puzzles to solve. The graphics can be turned off for those who regard them as sacrilege, but yours truly preferred them on as they add some extra interest to the game.


Lots of very good text adventures are available as magazine listings - including Page 6's own CASTLE MORGUE - and I feel most people would think twice about forking out money for an adventure written in BASIC, despite the addition of the graphics. At least the price is right and at only 2.99 it must be worth considering.