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 I n an adventure game, death usually results from carelessness, bad planning and timing or merely an excess of the gung-ho mentality. It can then become exasperating when all your careful work is erased at a stroke because an arcade section has been included which requires only manual dexterity as a survival skill.

The Atlas Assignment, is such a program, in the main following a pure text format but studded with a trio of arcade action sequences. There will no doubt be many players who enjoy those facets of the game as much as the puzzle-solving in the rest of it.

The machine code game casts the player as a secret agent in pursuit of Atlas, a formidable spy who has somehow lifted the American nuclear defence plans and intends to sell them. The adventure will take you globetrotting and, to be fair, the arcade portions are billed as shootouts. The remainder of the game follows a classic adventure pattern and a great deal of ingenuity and though is required even to reach the first sudden death exercise.

You will need some understanding of map-work, sociability to obtain information, and plenty of time to figure it out. All the usual adventure facilities and commands are included, though it is not the complex kind of adventure in which speech is possible. Most of the characters are passive and do not interact in Hobbit or Valhalla style. If the test of an adventure is that you have to keep trying, The Atlas Assignment will suit you.



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