Two Books for Atari Users
Quest For Clues, Official Print Shop Handbook. Reviewed by Chester Cox
QUEST FOR CLUES
There are a lot of addicted but frus trated adventure gamers out there. Maybe you're one of them--I know I am! I know of no less than five trade paperback books full of hints for various adventures-plus dozens of hint-books for individual adventures.
Newest of the lot is Quest for Clues. The editor is something of a legend himself--Shay Addams, who puts out the adventure games newsletter QuestBusters and has supposedly played more adventures than anyone else alive. The book covers fifty games, but only 21-35 are of interest to Atari owners--21 if you own an XL/XE, 30 if you own an ST, 35 if you own both. Games as recent as 1986-7 are covered, including the chilling Lurking Horror, the ground-breaking Pawn, and the heartbreaking Ultima IV.
But Quest for Clues is often just as confusing as the original adventures. Instead of giving straight forward hints, Addams chooses to encrypt his clues. By looking at the Code Key- or memorizing the simple cypher-- and transposing letters, you can tediously spell out clues or solutions. To further muddle things, the adventures are not arranged in alphabetical order. Instead, they are arranged within chapters titled Disk Drive Detectives, Fantasy Lands and so on. If Addams is trying to keep players from the very real temptation of looking up all the clues at once, he has committed overkill.
Quest for Clues, like the newsletter it springs from, assumes you want an entire walk-through of an adventure. Usually, only one or two puzzles stop you in a story. Individual hints leave some portion of your pride intact. A walk-through leaves me feeling that the author thinks I'm too stupid to finish an adventure on my own. If you prefer the satisfaction of solving a puzzle yourself, but need just a little help, Quest might be more than you want.
On the other hand, the maps are some of the very best I've seen for any adventure. I found no errors in any of them. If you're like me, and dislike clues but love maps, you'll love Quest for Clues.--CHESTER COX
$19.95. Origin Systems. Distibuted by Broderbund Software, 17 Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903. (415) 492-3500
OFFICIAL PRINT SHOP HANDBOOK
Broderbund's popular Print Shop software is so simple to use that many people have never even bothered to read the original manual. So Bantam's Official Print Shop Handbook by Randi Benton and Mary Schenck Balcer almost looks like a cheap attempt to sucker PS. fans out of $17.
But the large-format paperback book is loaded with shortcuts, ideas and gimmicks we hadn't figured out on our own. It's handy having all these references in one book, and there are also many templates and examples that should prove irresistable.
The writers assume that Print Shop is only available for Apple II, Commodore and IBM. But the fonts, graphics and disks listed match with the Atari disks, so the book is compatible.
The authors recommend creating a template box marked so you can determine where an icon would be sized within it. By printing these boxes in various formats (staggered, tiled, etc.) and sizes, you'll have a series of blank forms to help you determine how your finished Print Shop sign, letterhead, card, or banner will look. This addresses one of Print Shop's greatest faults: Print Shop does not preview the final form to your screen.
Dozens of shortcuts are thrown out in a shotgun approach. Easy hints on double printing (winding the paper back to a specific spot to print on top of another printed form) are given, with some classy results shown. Some of the ideas will be unnecessary for longtime users. Antic has shown how to print labels with Print Shop icons (April 1987), create envelopes to fit P.S. cards (December 1987)-and how to use P.S. fonts in a better banner program (July 1988). Also there are many public domain and commercial products that use Print Shop icons and fonts in unexpected ways.
Still, there's enough useful information here for the daily Print Shop user to earn this book a place on the desk just above the monitor. Best of all, many of the tips and graphic design principles in the handbook are useful with other printware. By keeping instructions and hints at the most basic level, the Official Print Shop Handbook becomes applicable to, well, everyday life. And that's where my Atari has always belonged.--CHESTER COX
$16.95. Bantam Computer Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103. (212) 765-6500.