Category Archives: The Edge

Raffles, Atari ST

Known as Inside Outing on 8-bit home computers, and Raffles on 16-bit computers, this excellent isometric platform game translates very well to the Atari ST.

The name change was because someone at publisher The Edge obviously thought that it would be a good idea to name the central character (he didn’t have a name in the original game), so they called him “Raffles” and the rest is history. Except it isn’t. US publisher Epyx later changed the name again, to the ludicrous “Debon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper“, when releasing in North America.

The name confusion is a pity because Inside Outing/Raffles – whatever you want to call it – is a brilliant little self-contained adventure game. The aim is find 16 jewels hidden inside a big house, and return them one at a time to a woman who resides in a particular room in the mansion.

A lot of the puzzles in Raffles are physics-based, or involve stacking items to reach higher places, but the extra ‘pull’ mechanic really brings the game to life, allowing you to completely rearrange the furniture in most rooms.

It has to be said, though, that Raffles has some of the most annoying enemies of all time… Usually either innocent-looking mice or birds. But both can move furniture and items and deplete you of your energy if they touch you. So you have to avoid them. But that’s easier said than done when you’re trying to move a load of furniture away from a blocked doorway. You can lose a couple of lives easily by being harassed by a single bird. Thankfully some rooms don’t have any enemies in them so you can grab a breather and think.

The Atari ST version of Raffles has extra rooms, and extra diamonds to collect, compared to the original 8-bit versions. The pool table room, for example, now has a door in the top right hand corner, leading to a series of new rooms. And – thank God – this time you get three (count ’em!) whole lives to play around with, instead of the single one you got in the original. How generous.

Note: One thing I didn’t like about this (and the Amiga) version: candlesticks now hurt you when you stand on them. Whichever ‘genius’ decided that was a good idea deserves their qualification for video game development revoking! 🙂

More: Raffles on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, ZX Spectrum

The ZX Spectrum conversion of Michael St. Aubyn‘s Inside Outing was programmed by Pamela Roberts with graphics by Mike Smith.

It has to be said that this version lacks the visual appeal of the Amstrad original. In fact: it’s quite ugly. The lack of colour doesn’t help. Also: the main character is drawn quite strangely, and the perspective on some of the furniture looks wrong.

Gameplay is relatively intact – you’re still a thief, searching a big mansion for 12 gems while avoiding all the mice and birds that sap your strength. You only get one life, so keeping that life bar topped-up is imperative.

Given the choice, I would play the Amstrad or C64 versions of Inside Outing, over this one. It’s just not as appealing as the other 8-bit versions.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 version of Inside Outing features graphics by the game’s original designer – Michael St. Aubyn – although the coding itself was done by Timedata/Pamela Roberts.

Gameplay is identical to the Amstrad original. You play a thief exploring a big mansion, looking for 12 hidden jewels. Finding them is not entirely straightforward as some of them are hidden in nefarious ways. For example: in the pool table room you must ‘pot’ (ie. kick) the balls into the pockets in the right order to make the jewel appear, and even then it materialises under the table so is hard to spot.

Isometric action/adventures are not particularly fashionable on the Commodore 64, but Inside Outing is an example of one that works. Granted: the enemies are extremely annoying, but otherwise the game is very good.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, Amstrad CPC

Inside Outing is an interesting isometric action/adventure game initially published by The Edge in 1988. It was designed by Michael St. Aubyn and converted to a number of different platforms, with this Amstrad version being the original.

The story is: an eccentric millionaire has died without leaving a will and has hidden 12 gems in strange places around his large house. The millionaire’s widow has hired a professional thief (you), to explore the house and find the fortune. Unfortunately the millionaire’s pets have now overrun the mansion and are waiting to attack any intruders, so it won’t be straightforward.

The gameplay in Inside Outing is fairly simple exploration, object manipulation, jumping, puzzles, and the game of ‘fetch’. Of course it owes a debt of gratitude to Knight Lore (as every other isometric action game does), but in general it’s reasonably original, and – in places – quite surprising. For example: in this game you can pull objects, as well as push them. Which might seem quite minor, but Inside Outing was one of the first games of its type to actually allow that. It actually makes it seem more natural to play than something like Knight Lore or Batman.

I love the colouring and design of the Amstrad graphics in this game. They’re chunky, but beautifully-drawn. And the rudimentary physics in the game give Ultimate a run for their money. Overall: the presentation is top class, and the gameplay isn’t bad either, in spite of the annoying enemies. Inside Outing is a classic Amstrad game and still deserves to be played now.

Inside Outing was also converted to the C64 and ZX Spectrum, and later appeared on the Amiga and Atari ST under the name “Raffles“.

Note: in the USA the game was published by Epyx under the frankly horrendous title of “Devon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper“.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Fairlight II, ZX Spectrum

Or, to give the game its full title: Fairlight II: A Trail of Darkness. First released in 1986 – one year after the original Fairlight – and again published by The Edge. It was definitely much more substantial than the first game.

Again you play Isvar, and again: he’s trying to recover the Book of Light. Only this time it’s inside a different castle – this one called The Dark Tower.

Fairlight II is considerably bigger than the first game (as you’d expect), but the gameplay still essentially boils down to finding the right objects to stack on top of each other to climb up to out-of-reach places. That’s okay though. The slowdown is ever-present (no surprises), and the combat is the same, but there are a few surprises in this second game that you don’t get in the first (like travelling over the sea to a new location; more varied enemies, and even a magic carpet!), which makes it better in my opinion.

Fairlight II is a good evolution of, not just the series, but the genre. In many respects it carried the baton created by Ultimate in the isometric adventure stakes.

Fairlight II was programmed by Bo Jangeborg, with graphics by Niclas Osterlin. Again: there were 48K and 128K versions, the latter version having music and other enhancements. These grabs are from the 128K version.

More: Fairlight II on Wikipedia

Fairlight, ZX Spectrum

Bo Jangeborg‘s Fairlight is a legendary isometric adventure game, published by The Edge in 1985.

You play the adventurer Isvar – exploring a large castle, looking for The Book of Light in order to escape.

Although Fairlight came after Knight Lore, it was praised for its open-ended gameplay, game world, and object manipulation. Well: object stacking… Most of the puzzles in Fairlight are ‘solved’ by stacking certain items in certain ways, which allows Isvar to reach higher places.

Like Knight Lore, Fairlight also features a lot of slowdown when a number of objects are moving on-screen at the same time. When an object disappears from the screen (for example: a bubble, that ‘pops’ when you touch it), the game suddenly speeds up massively, which is both comical and annoying at the same time.

Combat when encountering enemies is in real-time, but not very interesting. Winning is more a case of facing an enemy and holding down fire until they disappear, than anything requiring skill. You do have to be selective about who you take on, though, because you have a limited number of life points. Once they’re depleted, it’s game over.

Fairlight is a well-remembered Spectrum classic. It might be frustrating to play in places, but it definitely contributed to the whole idea of gaming worlds and object manipulation within them. There are some clever ideas in here (like attracting guards towards you to give them the ‘run-around’, in order to steal their key from them without having to kill them; or pushing stools under low tables to push objects from under them), and there’s no doubt this was a ground-breaking game for the time. The sequel, Fairlight II, was even more ground-breaking.

Note: an enhanced 128K version of Fairlight was later released by The Edge, which had a tune continuously playing. These grabs are from the original 48K version.

More: Fairlight on Wikipedia

Quo Vadis, Commodore 64

Written by Steven T. Chapman and published by The Edge in 1984, Quo Vadis is a scrolling platform game with a large and varied cavern to explore.

At the time of release Quo Vadis was heavily hyped as one of the biggest games ever made (“1024 screens!” boasted the adverts). While it is big, visually it is also a bit repetitive, so isn’t a particularly great game. It’s alright to explore for an hour, but doesn’t have much substance.


Bobby Bearing, ZX Spectrum

Bobby Bearing is an interesting isometric action game on the ZX Spectrum, published by The Edge in 1986.

You play as Bobby – a ball bearing – and must roll around the large, colourful maze, looking for and rescuing his four lost brothers and one cousin. Finding a lost relative is one thing, but pushing them all the way back to the starting ‘cave’ is another thing entirely. But that’s what you’ve got to do.

You’re up against a timer; a tortuous environment (falling off the edge loses you time); crushers which will squash you (losing you time), and evil dark bearings who will do everything they can to hinder you. Run out of time and it’s game over.

Bobby Bearing was a surprise hit at the time and still plays rather well today. It was converted to a number of other formats too.