Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 25 / NOVEMBER 1988 / PAGE 84


by Magnetic Scrolls

Rainbird Software
P.O. Box 2227
Menlo Park, CA 94026
(415) 329-7699
Color or monochrome

Reviewed by Betty D. DeMunn

Ms. DeMunn is a TV, stage and radio personality who is well-known within a five-mile radius of Buffalo, New York. To keep humble, she writes and fools around with her ST.

The following is taken from an interview with a Jinxter player who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous. He is currently in a maximum security facility, having been apprehended in Boston Harbor with twenty kilos of Earl Grey teabags.

BD: How did a nice guy like you. . . .?

JP: I used to review adventure games. Some critics just print the box. I deal with these suckers first-hand. I get in there and sweat bullets, or arrows, as the case may be.

BD: How did you get mixed up with Jinxter?

JP: Well, Rainbird gave us The Pawn and Guild of Thieves, both good games. Jinxter promised to surprise me at every turn. The package said it was "infuriating, enchanting, absurd and hilarious." How can an American deal with truth in advertising?

(At this point JP handed me a well-chewed Jinxter box.)

The graphics are awesome, probably the best drawings, pixel for pixel, in the business.

JP: Look. Examine the drawing of the carousel. See the guy with the mustache who looks like Manson? See the iffy-gendered person in the red sports car? See the chicken in the background? Those are the perpetrators of Jinxter. They call themselves "Magnetic Scrolls," and they're in London plotting to overthrow Infocom.

BD: That'll be the day. What was in the package?

JP: A beer mat, a very authentic office memo, a tabloid called The Independent Guardian and a player's guide.

BD: What's the beer mat for?

JP: It advertises "Old Moose bolter" beer and a contest. Every six months for two years they'll choose the best answer to the question, "Why did the Moose Bolt?" Winners get all of Magnetic Scrolls' software free for life. Or was that the booby prize? I forget. Anyway, I checked, and it's legit.

BD: Tell me about the tabloid.

JP: It's funny if you're British, narmean? The banner states "Quality News for the Hard of Thinking." The weekly for the "Association of Registered Stochastic Executives." Acronym that for a titter. However, all idiot idiom aside, it's important to read every word.

BD: Any special features in Jinxter?

JP: Unusually intelligent parser. It understands almost everything you type—and answers rudely. Then, too, you can script and unscript—toggle the graphics on and off—the usual.

BD: Is there a save option?

JP: Yes, on separate disk. There's room for about 20 saves per disk, and you'd better save a lot. But when you boot up and "restore," you have to search the newspaper for word? on page? in column? on line? The BB guns of surveillance—aimed at pirates, hitting us.

BD: I understand there are online clues.

JP: If you played Pawn or Guild you know the hint system. It's a two-letter code that you type in to get an obtuse clue that needs another clue to make sense. The hint system is another reason they put me in here. (He gestures at the smerfy walls.)

BD: The scenario, please.

JP: The legendary bracelet of Turani has been separated from its charms by a certain witch named Jannedor, weakening her power and allowing her and her rebel organization to seize power. You have to find the five charms and the bracelet and put them back together because Aquitania's luck is running out fast. So is yours.

BD: How is the writing?

JP: Eloquent, elegant, except for the undeleted expletives and occasional obscenities. All the words are spelled right except two. But then they throw in words like "lambent" and "tetragrammaton," and you wear out your dictionary.

BD: After all, English is our mother tongue.

JP: Yeah, it's some kinda mother. How would you like to meet a guy who says, "I was down the old frog-and-toad having an apple-and-pairs, and I sez to the old Hampton Wick, I sez, ‘Give us a bottle-and-glass in the old hot dinner, and I'll Aristotle any tit-for-tat in the boat race.’"

BD: That's Cockney rhyming slang. Many people consider it funny. Is Jinxter really "hilarious"?

JP: Compared to what? It's funnier than, say, Doug Llewellyn.

BD: Is it difficult?

JP: Take a dozen babel fish....

BD: How are the graphics?

JP: Awesome. Probably the best drawings, pixel for pixel, in the business. All through the game, whenever the drive whirs, you know you can pull down the scroll bar and see another work of art.

BD: The game, JP.

(At this point JP assumed a fetal position on his futon.)

JP: There are no monsters to kill, only sadistically contrived puzzles to solve. The bracelet charms are hidden with typical British vengefulness. If and when you get in trouble and death is nigh, you're rescued by your Guardian. This lulls you into thinking it's better than getting killed, but beware the cost to your luck. That's what it's really all about. Luck.

(At this point, JP idly sketched a loaf of bread on the soft wall with his black crayon.)

BD: When did you realize you were in trouble?

JP: With four charms in hand, I got stuck on the carousel.

I desperately need the ladder—I can see the ladder, I can move the ladder, but I can't get the ladder. Finally I call Rainbird. AT&T's famous robotess tells me the number's been changed. I call again and get a recording that says press one if you want this, press two if you want that—all the way up to six. I press 2 which is "game hints" and get something that sounds like "mega-genetics." Eventually I get Product Support, but PS. is "not in the office—leave a message, etc." Communication with other human beings is now controlled by beeps. I thought: Will he get back to me? Of course not. Did any software company anywhere ever get back to anyone? Of course not. You should see my phone bill.

(At this point JP screamed, wrenching everyone's guts within a five-mile radius.)

JP: But I was wrong! The next day PS. called with the secret name of a secret person who had secretly finished Jinxter. I secretly called her, and she secretly gave me some secret hints and told me a secret. She had called those blokes in England several times. You should see her phone bill.

(At this point JP calmed down somewhat and ate his non-toxic black crayon.)

JP: Anyway, shame is fleeting. I cheated my way into possession of the five charms and was ready to confront Jannedor in her woss-name, boudoir, when....

(At this point JP went berserk and ran amok. He was quickly subdued by a burly screw, and I left with the strains of "Rule Brittania" drifting in my wake.)

It was difficult to believe that a simple adventure game could wreak such havoc on an otherwise stable mind. I bought Jinxter, determined to see for myself. After two weeks I tried to buy a contract on the guy with the mustache. They caught me.

Epilogue: JP and I communicate quite well via a two-letter code through the adjoining soft walls. I feel great compassion for him because I have walked a mile in his tap shoes. Get Jinxter and join us. Narmean?