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Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less - Review

Review by Dorothy


Last edited:

Before you read this review, please be aware that I may have given some clues away, but because of the type of game I feel it doesn’t matter.

You are Stephen Bradley, an American academic working at Oxford University. You have discovered that you have been swindled out of $250,000. You bought shares in an oil company which then failed, leaving you with worthless shares.

Harvey Metcalfe, the villain whose shares you bought at an artificially boosted price, is laughing all the way to his Swiss bank. The police regret that they will be unable to nail him or recover your money. You are determined to get your money back, by fair means or foul, but you need help. You are told that from the moment you start the game a tally will be kept of all your financial losses and gains, however small.

Playing under Amstrad emulation there was a dreadful flicker but fortunately the GRAPHICS OFF command switched them off. Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less (NAPM) consists of two parts and a code word is required to enter the second. The first part consists mainly of collecting information on your fellow victims and on Harvey himself. The second part is the actual "sting" that you and your three partners play on Harvey. In this part you must also control the other characters as some things can only be done by a particular person, eg. only Robin can perform the operation.

Information obtained in part one is contained in a dossier which is kept in your room at Magdalen College in Oxford. As you gain each piece of information it is added to the dossier, enabling you to keep track of details. When there are no empty lines left you know that all the relevant information has been obtained. Additionally during part one it is necessary to collect a variety of objects which will be needed in the second part.

I found the help command to be helpful on a couple of occasions but most time it just gave a useless boring message. There is no inventory and items once taken cannot be dropped. It is therefore not possible to refresh your memory on exactly what you are carrying, so it is a good idea to note what you pick up as you go along.

The game commences with you in your room in Magdalen College, Oxford, where books line the walls and there is a television which can safely be ignored. This is where your dossier is kept so opening the folder you discover a list of useful telephone numbers. A camera can be found in a nearby cupboard but of course it has no film. Reading the magazine from the cupboard you discover that Harvey is due to make a tour of Europe and his itinerary is listed. Contacting your stockbroker you discover the names of the three other victims of the swindle – Robin Oakley, Doctor, Jean-Pierre Lamanns, Art Dealer and James Viscount Brigsley. You visit Robin’s Harley Street surgery to discover a key which is important in part two, followed by Jean-Pierre’s Gallery in New Bond Street, London. From there you follow Jean-Pierre to the RAC Club in Pall Mall but the doorman refuses you entry. Some film is available in a nearby shop, as is a suit. Visiting the Bodleian Library you learn about Viscount James Brigsley and obtain a medical book on general medicine and anesthesia. A visit to Paddington Station is next, where you find a newspaper and read an item about Dr. Wiley Barker, the U.S. President’s personal surgeon.

There is lots of information to be gained at the newspaper office about Harvey and it is essential that you don’t miss any. Questioning the reporters you learn that Harvey is after an honorary degree at Harvard University, grows rare orchids, has a mistress in New York, is desperate for a Van Gogh painting and owns a racehorse, Rosalie, which he expects to win at Ascot. Returning via Paddington Station to Oxford you must assemble the team and there ends part 1.

Part two commences in a train carriage containing yourself, the Vicar and a beautiful woman. Your objective here is to seduce the beautiful woman, but the vicar is cramping your style! Visiting Jean-Pierre’s Gallery in New Bond Street, London, you open the safe before doing some shopping for walkie-talkies and a disguise. Returning to the gallery you see the fake Van Gogh and must set up a private auction for Harvey. A visit to Wimbledon Tennis Tournament follows to ensure that he receives the invitation. At the auction you must bid against Harvey, ensuring that eventually his bid is accepted for the fake painting.

Now for some romance in your life and a visit to a restaurant where you propose to Anne who accepts... the rest of that night is left to your imagination and the game continues in Robin’s Office where you order some drugs for the next scam. A visit to St. Thomas’ Hospital is next, to obtain a gallstone, then onto Monte Carlo where you visit the casino to play blackjack. Drugging Harvey’s coffee to make him collapse you organise for him to be taken to hospital where a fake operation is carried out and he pays an exorbitant sum for the operation.

A visit to Ascot follows where you impersonate Professor Porter who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry to impress Harvey, followed by a visit to Oxford where Harvey makes a donation for a honorary degree. Finally you are introduced to Anne’s parents who turn out to be none other than Harvey himself (Anne was just the working name of Rosalie Metcalfe). He doesn’t recognise James and gives him $250,000 as a wedding gift.

Finding yourself in an aeroplane, the sting is over and the three of you are flying home. You are trying to work out what you have lost or gained, but you are constantly interrupted by a stewardess collecting for charity, You have made too much money so you must give some away. And so the game concludes.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 1/10)

No Inventory and very fussy

Atmosphere (Rating: 8/10)

An interesting and original plot.

Overall (Rating: 5/10)

A good story somewhat ruined by a lack of technical polish.