It's not easy being a ghost. To start with, picking things up is extremely difficult, and even when you master the art, most everyday objects are just too heavy to lift. But it has its compensations. The company is great, for one tiling. Well, at least, the lot in my cemetery are. Violet has stopped moaning, and Edith has stopped worrying. David's still a bit of a show-off, but I can put up with that now I've proved my worth. Once I'd sorted out the row between Bert and Edna, a couple 're-united in death', I found they'd do anything to help me.
"By the way, I'm Alan Chance, ex-cop. The 'ex' is because I was set up and murdered during a drugs raid. Now that I'm deceased I know who was behind it - he gave himself away at my funeral, when he didn't realise I was watching! Now all I've got to do is get my kindred spirits to help me to make sure he gets his just deserts, and clear my name."
Scapeghost, sadly, marks the end of an era. It is not only the latest, but the last ever traditional adventure from Level 9, who are moving on into the world of 'arcade oriented' products. The usual Level 9 high-level commands are supported, such as GOTO, UNDO and RAM SAVE. The graphics are of the pull-down type, and with Level 9's multi-tasking system, the prompt often returns before a new picture has displayed, speeding up the action. The artwork is rather low-key, and disappointingly, less exciting than the standard achieved in Ingrid's Back.
But an adventure is nothing if its puzzles do not satisfy and entertain. In part 1 of Scapeghost, they're nicely pitched. First there's a learning phase, in which the player has to come to terms with his new "body" and learn how to carry objects as an insubstantial ghost. Next comes a recruiting phase, where the player needs to persuade his fellow ghosts to carry out his commands. Here clever use is made of 'WAIT n' when speaking to other characters (where 'n' is a number of moves) in order to ensure their efforts are co-ordinated. All this is necessary before; the final problem in Part 1 can be cracked, which is to delay the gangsters from recovering the drugs.
I found the whole part very playable, making extensive use of GOTO and RUN TO to move automatically across the cemetery. There are some gentle clues in the replies, which avoid leaving the player high and dry without any idea of what to do next. Having delayed the gang's plans in part 1, in part 2 you'll be concentrating on collecting clues to aid the police, whilst finally, in part three, you'll have to rescue a hostage and prevent the gang from destroying evidence.
This novel story line comes from an idea by Sandra Sharkey and Pete Gerrard, and with Pete Austin's design and the Level 9 adventure system, combines to make a very original adventure which is enjoyable to play. It is all the more of a disappointment to learn that Scapeghost is the end of the line. Think again, Level 9! When you are rich from the best pickings of the arcade world, please find time in your schedule to throw the occasional crumb to those loyal adventure fans who helped you make it.
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