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Scapeghost
Level 9 £14.95/19.95 Jan 1990 YS49
80
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Mike Gerrard
As we now know, Scapeghost is going to be the last of the traditional adventures from Level 9. Not even Ingrid Bottomlow will be making her promised third appearance, so it's boo-hoo and tears all round. Pete Austin says sales have been falling with each successive release, which seems mad as the games have been getting better all the time! No doubt piracy has played its part, and anyone who's ever pirated a game can now be glad that at last they've seen the consequences.
    But down from the pulpit and into the graveyard, where the action in this one takes place. You didn't think there was much action in a graveyard? Obviously you've never spent a night in one, or in this case three nights, one for each part of the adventure - November Graveyard, Haunted House and Poltergeist. You have to survive each night in order to get through to the next part, but you can also play them independently if you like.
    Why are you in a graveyard? Well, you're about to be buried, that's why. Yes, you start this game as a stiff. You used to be a copper 'til you got involved in some drugs deal. You were betrayed to the drugs gang, and took the blame for your own death. Nasty stories abound, so you've got three nights in which to prove your innocence.
    You'd do well to start this game several times before playing it for real. Each time you start use the FOLLOW command to latch on to different people attending your funeral. You'll hear and see some useful clues. One 'tec says "Well, that's one nosey snoop buried", so it sounds like there's more corruption here than in the West Midlands Fuzz force. You also learn something about the vault in the graveyard.
    Sooner or later the lights will go out, day becomes night, and the other ghosts on the graveyard shift start to put in an appearance. Your spirit guide will be Joe Danby, who's in the next grave to you. He used to be landlord of the Pig And Whistle. He'll show you around, and introduce you to your other neighbours. You should pay great attention to what's said as you'll need all these chums on your side to succeed. It's a bit like the first part of Ingrid's Back, where you have to sort out their problems in order to recruit them to your cause. In fact, it's all very traditional Level 9 stuff, which is probably why the company bought the idea from Sandra Sharkey and Pete Gerrard (who he?) in the first place. Game design is by Pete Austin.
    There's tons of enjoyable stuff in here, and they've dug up (geddit?) every graveyard joke they can. I can spot my brother's jokes a mile off - they're the ones that make you groan out loud. But we don't play adventures just to enjoy ourselves, do we? We want problems to solve, and Scapeghost has some good ones. First, when you think about it, is that, as a ghost, you can't pick anything up as it slips through your ghostly fingers. But if you work on it, you can slowly improve your strength and be able to pick up a petal, if not quite crush a grape, fairly soon. Mind you, you can't escape the dreadful jokes even when solving the problems, as you'll find out when you try to help lift the curse that's befallen Edith Dean. In fact you can solve this in more than one way - all of them involving dreadful puns!
    So if it's all such jolly fun, why isn't this a Megagame? Well, it's got niggling faults which make it all seem like a bit of a rush job. It may be unfair to say it, but the feeling seems to be "Well, it's our last one anyway, so it doesn't matter". There are a few typing mistakes in the text. If you ask Joe Danby to do anything you are usually told "Joe agrees", but then you discover he hasn't actually done what you asked. I asked him to pick something up, which I couldn't manage (more experienced ghosts know about these things), and he agreed, so we wafted all the way over to the other side of the graveyard, I asked him to drop it and the silly spirit hadn't picked it up after all!
    Not quite up there with the Level 9 classics, but you'll still be missing a lot if you don't buy it. So long, lads, and thanks for all the fun.

Mike Gerrard has kindly authorised this site
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