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On the Pyst

It seems unlikely that anyone would ever mistake this software for Myst, the legendary point-and-click adventure game. But the publishers still feel obliged to splash "It's a parody" across the CD-Rom case, with the disclaimers that "this is not the real game, not the real publisher". While no one will argue with the disclaimers, they might dispute the parody claims.

Successful parody is a fine art; Pyst is a series of puns and visual gags, not a parody of Myst. It is not even a game, it's a humorous presentation. As an excuse for a spot of silliness it has its moments - but not many. It boasts John Goodman as "King of the Island of Pyst", but his performance in voice and animation is way below what viewers of Roseanne - or The Flintstones, come to that - might hope for.

On running the software, you're told that you seem to have fallen down a manhole and ended up on the Isle of Pyst. A cartoon postcard greets you. Point and click at bits of it and you are treated to sounds, animations etc which quickly become predictable. You click on a flying gull; it craps. You click on a dog; it lifts its leg. Click on a rat with a seagull in its mouth, and the rat will spring to animated life as it savages the bird. The verbal puns are pitched at about the same level. The title, amusing at first sight, comes in for severe overuse and when jokes revolve around mishearing "ferries" as "fairies", it's time to move on.

Moving on is simple; just click on the side of the postcard and you are taken to the next screen for more of the same. The appeal of fourth-form sub-Airplane humour is limited and subsequent screens are quickly disposed of until you get to the one with Goodman in a hot tub and, thankfully, it's all over.

On the plus side, the artwork is good, and, technically, the animation and movies are excellent. Using the supplied 32-bit Quicktime player under Windows 95 gives phenomenal on-screen results, but you're unlikely to buy this just to admire the technology.

One final word of warning. Do not launch the title song from inside the program. If you do, you have to listen to the whole thing before it returns you to a quit prompt. And if you've been trying all the standard escape keys in the minutes Goodman is crooning, when he finishes you go straight to the closing credits before being returned to Windows - and they take about another three minutes to play out

Pyst (Parroty Interactive, pounds 14.99) System requirements: PC: Windows 3.1/Windows 95; 486/33 processor (Pentium recommended); 8Mb Ram (16MB recommended); 6Mb free hard disk space; SVGA monitor; 2x CD-Rom drive; 8-bit sound card. Macintosh: System 7.1 or higher; 68040/25 processor; 8Mb Ram; 6Mb free hard disk space; CD-Rom drive.