Title           Jinxter
Category        Adventure
Players         1
Compatibility   All but may be unstable on KS2/3
Submission      Joona Palaste (palaste@cc.helsinki.fi) Profiled Reviewer

If there's one aspect that Jinxter has loads of, it's humour. And quite
interesting eccentric British humour at that. Although the game is a
simple, no-frills text adventure by nature, looking at the plot of the
game and the way the text is written reveals that it is lightyears apart
from conventional text adventures in the late 1980's, when it was

  The eccentric feel to the game starts from the very packaging. The
stylishly royal-blue box bears the title "jinxter" (sic) written in
colourful letters, above a pretty picture of a carousel. The signifance of
this carousel becomes apparent when you dwelve deeper into the game's
plot. Opening the box reveals an assortment of items: a floppy disk
containing the game, a copy of a fictional newspaper called "The
Independent Guardian", a standard registration form, and a beermat.
"Where's the manual?" you may ask. Right there. The manual is, in fact,
the "The Independent Guardian" newspaper. Most of its contents are weird
news items and columns addressed to a reader audience of guardian angels,
but there are a few bits hidden in the newspaper that explain how the game
works. The newspaper never mentions "Jinxter" or "the game", but look for
an article about computers, and off you go, as the British would say.

  On to the game itself. In the late 90's and (soon) early 00's, children
view adventure games as point-and-click thingies, so I'd better explain
the concept of a text adventure. There's no graphical pictures to point
and click at here. It's all text. The game tells you events in text, like
"You are in a field. There is a bull nearby.", and you respond by typing
commands, like "Talk to the bull". It might sound a little boring, but
mention "text adventure" to anyone between 20 and 30, and he/she's bound
to get all nostalgic.

  By now it should be obvious that it's the text in the game that makes
Jinxter so eccentrically humorous, and so great, if you ask me. The plot
of the game is set in a country called Aquitania (which seems very
British, once you get to look at it), which seems to be living somewhere
in the 1920's or 1930's. (No references to actual years are made, so I'm
guessing here.) Aquitania is a country where magic abounds, or used to
abound, to be more specific. Over the years, the country's luck was
secured by a magic bracelet made by a great magician named Turani. Then,
however, came the witches, led by Ms. Jannedor Nasty. The witches broke
the bracelet into five separate charms, which wound up hidden in various
places around the town, which the player is exploring. This caused a
change in Aquitania's luck, which grew worse and worse. It's your job to
find these five charms, reassemble the Turani bracelet, and confront Ms.
Jannedor Nasty. And if it sounds difficult, it is even more difficult.

  Literally, the game is simply brilliant. All the descriptions of places,
things, people and events are long, some taking several on-screen pages.
All of these have been written with a sort of tongue-in-cheek humour. For
example, at the start of the game, you are about to get run over by the
bus you took to get a ride home. Just as you are about to die, you are
saved by your guardian angel. He tells you the background story of the
game. "I never get home to see the wife and kiddies", he says. "Mind you,
can't stand the sight of the wife and kiddies, so I guess it's not so
bad", he later adds. This is just a small example of the witty, quaint
eccentric humour.

  The game's parser (that's the part of the program which translates your
input so the program can act accordingly) is very good, although not
perfect. It's way above even the best parsers found in C64 text
adventures, being able to comprehend multiple sentences, pronouns, "all"
and "except" constructions, and more. Still, it can't understand
everything, so if it reports an error, break your input down into smaller

  Earlier on I said that text adventures didn't have graphics. This is not
exactly true. There are none of these "interactive movie" -type on-site
animated pictures adventures these days have, but some text adventures
have some still pictures to decorate the locations. Jinxter is one such
game, and its pictures are very well drawn. They're almost of photographic
quality. Sound has not been totally forgotten, either. When the game is
loading, you are treated to a jolly, Monty Python -style piano piece,
which is very pleasing to listen to. However, once you get past that, the
game is totally silent.

  Jinxter is not without its drawbacks, though. The game has obviously
been designed with only 68000-based, KS 1.x Amigas in mind. Using it on a
more advanced computer is possible, even worthwhile, but some
compatibility problems do arise. When I played the game on my A1200, the
saving/loading feature suddenly stopped working altogether. No matter what
I tried to save or load, the game always reported a fatal error, and
locked up. The cause of this is still a complete mystery to me. Also, even
though the game is supplied on a standard AmigaDOS disk, it's not that
system-friendly, claiming full control of the system to itself when
active, only falling back to Intuition to save or load a game position.
This is a sign of the game's age. Had it been programmed five years later,
it would have been much more compatible.

  Still, I like Jinxter. It's one of the first Amiga games I ever played,
because it came with the second-hand A500 which was my first Amiga. I
played it almost to death back then, only to finally get stuck in a
certain place. Now I know how to proceed, but due to compatibility
problems I can't get the game to work well enough to actually do so. In
spite of that, Jinxter has earned a place among my favourite games. It's
very weird and quite wonderful. If you like adventures, try it. You may
well fall in love with it.

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