Ooze: Creepy Nites logo

Price: £24.95

With the death of Uncle Cheez, Carfax Abbey, the seat of the Burger Family, passed into the hands of Ham. That's you. And now, as you stand in front of the eerie and dilapidated building you start wondering about 'the incident' that befell your uncle.

The abbey is apparently deserted, save for a red translucent figure standing on the stairway. It hurls a ball of fire at you as you enter, and promptly disappears. Cobwebs adorn the ceilings, and dust covers the furnishings, undisturbed by the inhabitants - a handful of friendly ghosts!

There's Ludus, Lacelot, Zom Bee, and Marie Entoilet, to name but a few. They all live in dread of the Master Of Evil, Ooze, who has claimed a large part of the old building for himself. And if Ooze discovers there is a human on the premises, both you and the ghosts will suffer. You decide to help the ghosts and put paid to Ooze forever...

Ooze is a text adventure, with graphics and sound, from German software house Dragonware. A lively title tune introduces the game, and suitable sound effects are provided for ghostly laughter, creaking doors, and the suchlike.

As for the graphics, (it had to happen sooner or later) the system is identical to that pioneered by Magnetic Scrolls, with the roller blind effect. That is not to say that the pictures are a patch on the magnificent Scrolls' artwork, but they are not too bad. They slide up and down as you move from one location to another, and can be left 'parked' in any position during play by use of the right mouse button.

The screen boasts no pull-down menus at the top, often used in modern systems as short cuts for special commands such as SAVE and LOAD, although most of the common system commands, such as PRINTER, are available when typed as text input. Notably absent is a TEXTSIZE option, a major omission, for reading 80 column white on black text is a fairly eye-straining affair if you're using a TV set.

The rooms are described in great detail, but the descriptions tend to be badly organised, making it difficult to determine the exits and objects at a glance, which is particularly frustrating when returning to a location. Mixed up in these descriptions is an occasional piece of action commentary. I often found myself having to type L immediately, to clarify the room details.

Commentary is in the first person, and although somewhat reminiscent of Rod Pike's adventures, it fails to convey the same depth of atmosphere and feeling. In contrast to this, messages in response to invalid commands are humorous and slightly insulting. With a quirky parser such as this (one which tends to misinterpret the verb and instead display a description of the noun or the room) a smart-arse message to invalid commands is never very welcome.

What is welcome is a text adventure from a new source, and after what I've said, it is not a bad game. You'll certainly enjoy it if a light-hearted haunted house thriller appeals to you.

Ooze: Creepy Nites logo

Dragonware, Amiga £24.95

As soon as I discovered that you play a hero called Ham Burger, I knew this was going to be a meaty adventure; a game to get your teeth into; not one for the wimpy player; food for thought... but I was wrong!

The game starts with the news that your Uncle Cheez (yes, he's a Cheez Burger) has bequeathed you his old house, Carfax Abbey. Unfortunately the house is located just southeast of Salom's Lot (do they mean Salem's Lot?). To further add to your worries your uncle died in mysterious circumstances! But you're young and reckless, so you decide to go for a butcher's (probably the wrong word to use in the circumstances).

A text-input adventure, Ooze overwhelms you with prose: descriptions of not less than eight or nine lines, and sometimes more than a screen full, sit there waiting to be read... it's too much! For example, at the start of the adventure six lines are used just to describe how you dig in your pocket for the door key, can't find it, panic, then suddenly find it and feel relieved. The authors try far too hard to create an atmosphere. Thankfully, you can choose Brief descriptions, but you still have to suffer tedious text on your first visit to locations.

The main problem with Ooze is its translation from German to English. It looks to be a straight interpretation which would have been better rewritten. Here's the response I got when I tried to go west from the first location: 'Do you honestly believe that I didn't mind the stresses and strains that I've had to put up with so far? Do you? Really? If so there is nothing more I can do for you. Ok, I'll go right inside in order to have a thorough look. We can always leave if we want then. Well, is it OK?' Eh, no, it isn't.

All these idiosyncrasies may be amusing to begin with but more serious flaws lurk within the shadowy halls of Carfax Abbey - inputting 'Prop' produces the response, 'Unfortunately I can't see a pale here.' - and you begin to wonder if there's any chance of actually finishing the game or whether other skulking mistakes will prevent you.

The intro-music and in-game sound effects are quite good. Also welcome is the fact that you get some sort of response to most commands. Function keys are allocated verbs such as Examine, Look and so on and you may customize them with your own words if you wish.

Ooze will probably do very well in Germany - if it already hasn't - but as I don't Sprechen zie Deutsch (and English translation is so bad) it does nothing for me.