Eric the Unready
Eric the Unready was designed by Bob Bates, Infocom alumnus, founder of Legend, and author of Timequest. Bates described the title character as "a cross between Sir Launcelot and Inspector Clouseau." The game is a broad farce set in a swords-and-sorcery setting with modern touches, much like Legend's Spellcasting series, only without the magic, the collegiate motif, or the sex. (Well, there is some slightly off-color humor, but that's it.)
After a prologue involving a pig and an outhouse, the game starts in earnest with the kidnapping of the beautiful Princess Lorealle. The object of the game is to rescue her. Naturally, all the knights in the realm want to take on the quest and win Lorealle's hand in marriage, but Queen Morgana, who wants the quest to fail, chooses the bumbling Sir Eric. Just to be on the safe side, she also sends assassins after him. With the player's guidance, however, Eric can always keep one jump ahead of them, leaving enough rubble in his wake to slow them down.
The main portion of the quest is spent in pursuit of five artifacts, such as the Crowbar of the Apocalypse and the Bolt Cutters of Doom, that will enable the Eric to open the gates of the castle where Lorealle is being held. Thus, there are five sub-quests in the mid-game, bracketed by two introductory parts and the climax. In the process, Eric visits locations like the Mountain of the Gods (reachable only from the well-guarded Temple of Virgins) and the Swamp of Perdition (populated primarily by characters from old TV shows).
Like all of Legend's other releases, Eric is an illustrated text adventure with optional command menus and special user interfaces for specific puzzles. The continual background music is dominated by the breezy lite-rock sound familiar to anyone who has played any of Legend's other games. (Who is this Arfing Dog person, anyway?) Numerous digitized sound effects can be played through appropriate music cards or the PC internal speaker. Most of these effects are assorted crashes, bangs, and shrieks to be played when Eric commits unintentional property damage; in addition, there is the best vomit sound I have ever heard in a computer game.
The only new feature in the user interface is the addition of conversation menus, which replace the "ask
The action takes place on Torus, a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) planet. Actually, toroidal planets are not uncommon in adventure games. Any rectangular map with wraparound in both the north-south and east-west axes (i. e., King's Quest 1) is toroidal. If you deduce from this that Eric takes place on a rectangular grid with wraparound, you are wrong. The game is divided into eight separate regions. Each day, Eric finds himself in a new area, and must complete his task there before the day is out. Doing so triggers some form of accidental mass destruction which propels him into the next area and the next day.
In the process, Eric invariably loses all his possessions, except those that will be necessary later, which simplifies inventory management enormously. This is a technique used frequently in animated graphic adventures, where the overhead of programming objects in new areas is greater. Old-time gamers will miss the challenge of deciding what will come in handy later, but few will miss lugging around tons of useless junk.
We have humor and pseudo-Meretzky puzzles. I'm not sure that's enough to qualify this game as one of the classics, but it's pretty good. I have the feeling that this game will largely be bought by the same people who bought the Spellcasting games, who will enjoy it provided that they don't get stuck. Beginners are advised to read the solution, and are warned that they won't get all the jokes.