SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER.
Sometimes a place where astounding adventures, wondrous sights and incredible discoveries await the intrepid explorer. Sometimes a place of grim, stark terror, where no-one can hear you swearing at your cassette player.
Bounty – The Search for Frooge is apparently part one of the Space Bounty series, and was written and published on the 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Paul Jenkinson in 2012. It’s an old-school spacebound text adventure, in which you are a kind of poor man’s Boba Fett, on the trail of a fleeing fugitive. But there’s more to it than that.
All seems well to begin with, as your sleek, pulse-engine powered spaceship lands on the desert planet of KayCee 3, and you detect a breathable atmosphere. As you step out of the ship, the twin alien suns beat down mercilessly, and you can see little but lifeless desert. Or is it? First signs of life appear, in the form of a small animal making woop woop noises.
Mountains lie to the north, but everywhere else is naught but sand and dust. Your mission is to head for the hills, where you will discover a crashed spaceship. Dare you enter it? Not so fast, hero – you need to go back aways and do a little exploring first.
For a modest classical adventure game, with no graphics apart from a loading screen, there’s still plenty to ‘see’ and do. If you wander about the landscape, structures abound, some complex, as well as a cave. There’s an important and well-defended alien building with a puzzling keypad, a mysterious storage bunker, plus useful tools and other, less expected but equally useful things to acquire along the way.
Text input is the standard verb/noun system, and response is fast. The odd typo and truncated command word doesn’t detract too much from what is a fun and atmospheric text adventure, with good descriptions. Don’t let the apparent simplicity fool you, however. The game can be tricky if you’re not paying attention – for example, some objects or clues need combining with others. Remember, you can’t carry everything at once. You’ll also come under pressure at times, which makes things interesting. Oh, and a propensity for random violence might prove useful…
Fun under alien suns. I have to say that I’m a bit of a sucker for space-based Sci-Fi adventure games, and if you’re looking for an easy and engaging intro to the genre, Bounty – The Search for Frooge is a good a place as any to start, especially as it’s free! This is a relatively short game, with not much to do to ensure your getaway right at the end, but it is enjoyable getting there. Recommended, but a longer version would be very welcome!
You can download Bounty off the World of Spectrum page where I first found it, indeed this site is an ideal place to go hunting Speccy adventure games in any case. Or, you may be surprised to know that the game’s author, Paul Jenkinson, is probably better known to you as the host of that rather enjoyable YouTube magazine show for Sinclair Spectrum fans, The Spectrum Show. Why not go check out his games on their own page?
A shorter version of this review was originally published in the Crash Annual 2018 from Fusion Retro Books, in my Adventure Trail column.