The reason why so many young teenagers mowed lawns, washed cars and spent much of the early 1980s negotiating "birthday deals" with their parents was so that they could own a computer that was light years ahead of the competition - a computer the size of a modern day keyboard which could outperform most of its competitors and at a third of the price. On top of this, it was a games machine without equal - a machine who's capability most software companies recognised and took advantage of producing such outstanding games as Aztec Challenge, Raid Over Bungling Bay and Impossible Mission, to mention a few. Secret of Bastow Manor, like "The Hobbit" which would come after it, was not one of these games - in fact it must rank as one of the worst.
The premise is straight forward and initially intriguing. "Bastow Manor" offers a "Hound of the Baskerville" / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle / haunted house setting, which sounds promising in the adventure which may follow. Unfortunately for most gamers, this is where the "adventure", excitement and interest not only starts but ends. As a text adventure, the parser on this adventure game is truly awful. I can remember many a C64 gamer being stuck for years of their life on the first few screens. What initially seemed interesting, soon becomes down right frustrating. Certainly there are equally frustrating adventures to come such as "The Hobbit", but games such as this at least offered superior graphics to compliment the text - Bastow Manner offers character based graphics which are laughable to say the least. The mediocre sounds which accompany "successful" actions are also woefully underdone and indicative of a "pong machine", not a Commodore 64!
The early 1980s was probably a "golden age" for games developers - they could sucker in hopeful and wide eyed computer gaming teenagers with games which had fantastic illustrations on their boxes, and promises of even more wonderful adventures beyond - and because the games took 30 plus minutes to load on the datasette, these games were bought on faith - and they were not cheap. I remember paying $30 of hard earned cash back in 1983 for Bastow Manor - only to be completely robbed. Those programmers who wrote this game, and you know who you are, should be horse whipped forever out of the game programming world. It is very rare for me to condemn a game, and I have been playing computer games since 1983 - but this one is a COMPLETE TURKEY! Do not let it rob any more years from any more lives! This game should be "terminated with extreme prejudice". :)
|GRAPHICS - 1/10|
|Very poor, character based graphics. Demonstratively lazy programming.|
|SOUND - 1/10|
|Clearly written in BASIC, the sound is disappointing - come on this is a C64 after all, not some Tandy!|
|PLAYABILITY - 1/10|
|I believe this game was played by a number of normal adolescents who later became mass murderers. The frustration factor is very high.|
|OVERALL - 1/10|
|Overall, this game excels in its blandness. Softgold and the people who wrote it should be ashamed. In fact they should be hunted down and imprisoned for promising so much and delivering so little.|