James V. Trunzo
Requirements: Commodore 64; Apple II-series computer with at least 48K RAM; Atari 400/800, XL, or XE with at least 48K RAM; IBM PC with at least 48K RAM; Expanded Model PCjr; Amiga; Atari 52OST; Macintosh; Kaypro CP/M; or a TRS-80 Model III. All versions require a disk drive. The Commodore 64 version was reviewed.
The latest entry from Infocom, the software industry's most prolific producer of text adventures, is a novel mystery/adventure entitled Wishbringer. It's billed as an introductory-level adventure, but veteran gamers should not be put off by the label. When Infocom calls a game "introductory," it simply means you might need only 20 or 30 hours to solve the adventure instead of 60 or 70 hours.
Actually, Wishbringer offers several very challenging puzzles, starting at the very beginning of the game when you have to map your way over the mountain leading to the Majick Shoppe. What makes Wishbringer slightly easier than a more advanced Infocom game is that some of the mapping is done for you, the scope of the storyline is not as broad, and the puzzles are slightly less devious. However, this should not be construed to mean that the game is child's play—far from it.
As the accompanying storybook says, you're in the role of an ordinary postal clerk in an "ordinary little town, and you've been performing your ordinary mail clerk's duties in an altogether ordinary way. But there's something quite extraordinary about today's mail." From that point your adventure begins, and nothing is the same any more.
A Piece Of The Rock
The adventure is twofold: First, you must seek out and obtain a magic stone known as the Wishbringer. To keep track of your location in the game's imaginary world, you should compile a map as you go along, even though a general map is included. If you find the Wishbringer, your second job is to use the powers of the stone (which are awesome in some ways, yet limited in others) to save your town—a town that no longer resembles what it was at the start of the adventure. Now it's filled with trolls, vultures, and other evil creatures.
Wishbringer conforms to the usual Infocom style. That is, it employs no graphics, relying on detailed descriptions and the player's imagination to provide the "pictures." The sophisticated parser, an Infocom trademark, lets you type in compound sentences rather than just primitive verb-noun commands. Other features let you save games in progress and send text to a printer. And as always with an Infocom package, Wishbringer is attractively designed. It includes a beautifully illustrated storybook, "The Legend of Wishbringer," and even a plastic Wishbringer stone that glows in the dark.
Starting with a simple premise—one that may seem almost childish at first—Wishbringer quickly becomes an enjoyable, playable adventure for all but the most hardened veterans of adventure games.
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