Eric The Unready
First released in 1993, Eric The Unready is best described as a text adventure with graphics. Indeed, like most of the early Legend games, this one can be played purely as a text adventure where you type in commands and receive a text description (real nostalgia). Or you can use the mouse to build up commands from a verb and object menu, and see a small graphical representation of your current location at the top right corner of the screen. You can still type commands in this mode and in many respects this is easier than constantly reaching for the mouse. If you insist on using the mouse you can also click on the graphic for a description -- the equivalent of typing 'look' or 'look at' -- or you can double click to carry out the most obvious action such as 'open door' or 'talk to' an on-screen character. Which ever way you choose to play it's all good fun.
Eric is a walking disaster area whose first task is to rescue a pig from a privy, but later his bumbling incompetence will see him selected to rescue Princess Lorealle The Worthy from a fate worse than death. As Eric you must first complete several quests to recover five items that will aid you in your rescue bid, and the paths to these fabled objects are tortuous in the extreme and littered with puns, one-liners and references to films, television shows and other computer games. I loved meeting the original Star Trek characters in the Swamps of Perdition and revisiting the White House in the Not So Great Underground Empire. For Zork fans this game is more Zork-like than Return to Zork and Zork Nemesis combined.
The humour is in the parodies and the ridiculous nature of the tasks you must perform and there are some genuinely witty moments, or at least some that most appealed to me, such as the God of Lost Causes being tied up with the Bush campaign. However, at times it tries too hard to be funny and resorts to some rather well-worn jokes, but overall the game is amusing enough. I enjoyed playing it when it was first released and it was just as entertaining this time around as I replayed it for this review. There was much that I had forgotten and a few puzzles still had me stumped for a while.
Each quest is self-contained and the successful completion of one dumps you, unceremoniously, into the next -- usually leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The obstacles to overcome are good, solid adventuring fare including a fun variation on the infamous Babel fish puzzle from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where a sequence of obstacles combine to frustrate your attempts to solve the puzzle.
The very end of the game holds out the promise of a sequel (what a good idea) which, so far, has not been forthcoming and, sadly, does not now seem likely. However, Eric The Unready has recently been re-released by Legend as part of an eight game compilation pack called The Lost Adventures which also contains Companions of Xanth, Gateway I and II, Time Quest and the Spellcasting series. If you haven't played any of these before it looks like good value.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1997.
All rights reserved.
MS-DOS, Hard disk, 640k RAM. VESA compatible Super VGA, VGA, EGA. SoundBlaster and compatibles. Microsoft compatible mouse recommended.