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St. Bride's School
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

If you cast your mind back some time to when a curious little item ended the news about some school in Donegal where grown women could return to their idyllic school days then you might quickly get the idea of what this game is all about. Well, the erudite mistresses of that noble establishment, St. Bride's School for Young Ladies, have begun a foray into the world of adventuring starting with this game, which gives some feel of what a stay at the school might entail. The feel of the game is reminiscent of those faintly Victorian Boy's Own stories I read when young. Presumably, when I was reading all about Jennings and Derbyshire all them giggly girls were absorbed in their own feminine versions, a taste of which can be sampled here.

On the front of the Prospectus is the Latin inscription Semper Ad Lucem which is very apt as I haven't the foggiest as to what it might mean. Perhaps playing this game might sharpen my intellect and rekindle that desire to learn and retain irrelevant facts. Anyway, the gist of the thing is that St. Bride's is a small private boarding school for girls between the ages of 13 and 18, set in two acres of grounds on the edge of the little fishing village of Burtonport in the heart of the Rosses on the west coast of Ireland. The area is one of outstanding natural beauty containing over a hundred lakes. The house commands views of the Atlantic to the west, while to the east the rugged countryside sweeps away to the distant Derryveagh Mountains. If you still don't know the area I'm on about then clearly you must have been educated in a crummy comprehensive and could do with a bit of the character, poise, health, and happiness from which the girls benefit at this school. There again, opening something called an atlas wouldn't do much harm either.

In an editorial a few months back I commented on how it might be a good idea to centre an adventure on somewhere that really exists and it looks like this is what we have here. This game explores the imposing Victorian building which now houses St. Bride 's. Studying the curriculum I see that not much has changed since Victorian times as we are told that while Elementary Latin and Grammar are high on the curriculum, science, apart from Botany is not so well served. There again, maybe schools have got it right when did studying science ever earn anyone any money in the headlong dash for the material goodies? You'll be relieved to note that although the school day officially begins at 7.30 with the rising bell, rising is not obligatory until breakfast at 8.15. Nice of those mistresses, eh?

So what part do you play in this adventure? Well you play Trixie Trinian, a girl just out of school whose come to St. Bride's for a school holiday (!?). You soon learn that this school is how it would be were it fifty years ago. All the staff are convinced it's the late twenties (although there is some confusion over the exact date), as are your fellow pupils. Much of your early explorations are simple enough but there comes a stage, after about 12 locations when a bit of thought is required. The authors give some clues to the complexity of this game when they concede that many will no doubt find the word which finishes the game but few will uncover the remaining 50% which leads to the coveted amulet. A St. Bride's certificate of merit awaits the player who can uncover the word but the discovery of the amulet entitles the owner to an A Level in Adventuring and a free copy of every game St. Bride's produces.

The nuts and bolts of the adventure are assembled around Gilsoft's Illustrator and Quill and entail rather slow full screen graphics which, rather disappointingly, are redrawn with every R for redescribe, This, not unexpectedly, tends to slow things down. (If you are not into adventures and you're wondering what the heck I 'm on about REDESCRIBE sticks up on the screen the location description ie, where you are at, and is necessary because often it scrolls up and off screen as you input your commands). Another niggle is the almost totally inactive EXAMINE.

Niggles apart, this isn't such a bad adventure and creates a lot of atmosphere. I just wish I'd gone to public school, learning Latin for a few years is a small price to pay if it buys a cushy job in the Civil Service. That reminds me I haven't had a cup of tea for quite awhile it's not Darjeeling, it must be Victorian Tea.


Difficulty: easy to begin with, then more difficult
Graphics: average
Presentation: highlights etc
Input Facility: v/n
Response: instant
General Rating: Interesting.


Screenshot Text

Unlock the schoolgirl secrets of the dormant dormatory at ST BRIDES, an adventure in the jolly hockey sticks genre.