Review: Jinxter

(A Magnetic Scrolls puzzle-romp. Funny, frustrating, elegant, unfair, very entertaining. And quite under-rated on IFDB. Jinxter - Details (

Lucky Charm

If you play this game without slavishly following the walkthrough to the smallest detail, you will ragequit when the endgame throws you out right before the final 6 or 7 moves.

I did.

Many puzzles in Jinxter have a straightforward adventure-game solution. This solution has potentially life-threatening side-effects. You don’t actually die though, but it takes a little bit off your luck-stat. Which you need. Which I didn’t know. Which I only found out when I was thrown out of the endgame because I was low on Luck.

Restoring this late in the game won’t help, the only way to experience the endgame and the good conclusion of the story is restarting and finding out the intermediate steps of caution in every solution.

“Somehow, you don’t feel quite as lucky as you did.”

If you read the above line, it’s time to restore and tackle that last puzzle again. Carefully…

Now, do play Jinxter! It’s fun!

No, really, it is.

For ages, Aquitania has been under the protection of an enchanted bracelet which grants above-average luck to its inhabitants. Recently, the power of the bracelet has diminished by the theft of several of its dangly charms. An opportunity for the Head Green Witch Jannedor to enlarge her influence on the land of Aquitania.
Your quest is clear. You must find the missing charms, restore the bracelet’s enchantment, confront Jannedor!

Wait… Who is this “You”?
It appears that our savior of the land is actually a random hapless passer-by, designated by Fate (and a rather befuddled Guardian) to take on this land-savioring task.
Perhaps Magnetic Scrolls earlier works provide a clue to who You is…
-There’s no mention of gills and fins, so it’s not the dimension-portal jumping goldfish-detective from Fish.
-No exceptional catburglary skills, probably not the thief from Guild of Thieves either.
Nope. Seems like You is just an ordinary adventure person without any distinguishing traits.

The world that unfolds for You to explore is large and varied. It all starts out in the mundane comfy familiarity of You’s own home, and it goes progressively more into fairy-talish territory with each new area.
(Ahem… When I said mundane, I should point out that’s a rather relative term. The street right out the front door is a literal Neverending Lane, and your furniture becomes, well, animated from time to time, presumably caused by the uncontrolled leakage of Luck.)
When I glance at my pen-and-paper map, the general shape is a narrow connecting line with bulges that represent multi-location puzzle areas. Four large areas are connected by some sort of vehicle ride (with attached puzzle). Apart from the connection between areas 1 and 2, these are one-way only. I love vehicular travel in adventures. It draws open the map and gives an impression of real long travel, as opposed to traversing unrealistically long distances on foot.
At least one sneakily hidden passage requires some weakly clued detection work, but the area it leads to is more than worth it.

Jaunty and exuberant writing pulls the player into the cheerful atmosphere of the game-world (despite the supposedly world-threatening danger of the Green Witches taking control, there’s not much of a sense of urgency…); vibrant location descriptions are supported by beautiful pictures that are helpful in constructing a clear mental image of You’s surroundings.


This cool spring, surrounded on all sides but the west by steep banks, bubbles up from underground. It looks entirely artless and natural, belying the fact that Xam’s crazed gardener constructed it by means of an intricate system of dams and hydraulics, initially flooding half the neighbourhood and leading to a series of acrimonious lawsuits lasting several years.

At other times, it’s more restrained, slipping in a drily humorous response to an EXAMINE-command.

The telephone is a telephone, just like a red one, except it is green.

Speaking of the EXAMINE-command… You can type it in full, but the abbreviation X is not understood. I did everything with L. It took some conscious effort to redirect my fingers’ deeply engrained automation from X [object] to L [object], but the adjustment wasn’t too big.
On the whole, the parser is perfectly adequate. It recognises complex commands (DROP ALL EXCEPT) and multiple-action commands (SMELL DEAD FLY THEN LICK IT). It is however somewhat too fine-grained, making the PC feel like a toddler who has to be pointed to all the discrete components of a seemingly simple action. Until you get used to holding the PC’s hand, this leads to a lot of “With what?” and “To whom” responses where a modern parser would deduce these things without problem.
---->Short aside as to why I’m mentioning this: Jinxter was published in 1987, when these finer points of parsing were not by any means to be taken for granted (still aren’t, actually, when you look beyond the strongest of modern parsers). Boasting about parser-strength was a real promotional tool, and players then would not have found these “shortcomings” to be disruptive.

To be sure, I never encountered an instance where parser inadequacy hindered the solving of a puzzle. The puzzles were more than enough of a challenge all by themselves.
The first area is gentle enough, the puzzles are easily recognisable and the limited amount of items in You’s inventory makes it rather straightforward to come up with the correct solution. (Look out for that additional Luck-complication though!)
The later areas, however, are much harder, especially the midgame. A bunch of interdependent locations necessitate running from one part of the area to the other to find the right item to use on a distant puzzle, there’s an unknown order to the obstacles that needs to be figured out in order to make real progress, and the puzzles are just harder.
Add to this a further complication: the “carry-all” You picked up early in the game turns out not to be a carry-all at all. It’s handy to keep all You’s stuff together, but each item still fills up your inventory, whether it’s inside the container or not. The inventory-limit is generous, but in a game like this it’s hard to predict if you’re going to need those nailclippers a second time or not. It never certain when it’s safe to discard an object, so You ends up carrying every carryable article around. This becomes a problem when one of the one-way passages prohibits the transporting of the carry-much and forces You to choose which items to bring.
The majority of puzzles are clever and fun to hypothesise about. Some are very elegant and surprising, with a solution so simple that it’s not obvious at all. Others are obscure, underclued to the point of unfairness, requiring many attempts and possibly a few RESTOREs.
---->Be sure to put a checkpoint-save at the beginning of each new area. Allthough it’s impossible to die in Jinxter, it’s exceedingly easy to wind up Zombified. I also encountered a bug that would have made the game unwinnable had I not been able to restore to my checkpoint. (The Bartender gets fussy when you give him the wrong coin. He gives you a glass of beer that you cannot interact with.)

There are many NPCs to interact with. They’re of the thick cardboard type, but the cardboard is painted in bright colours and cartoonish features. They’re amusing caricatures, fun to mess with a bit, but don’t expect any depth of conversation. Their main purpose is to serve as obstacles, to be fooled, distracted, mislead in the search for the missing charms.
There’s also a weird Guardian (the one who appointed You as the right person to undertake this quest in the first place) soaring around who will regularly appear out of nowhere. It’s worth asking him about the problem at hand, but don’t count on a helpful answer. He might point You in the right direction, but it’s just as possible he’ll be too confused to help in any way, or too busy with finding the nearest whatever-it-is that he’s after this time. In short, you shouldn’t rely on the Guardian as an in-game hint system to help you find the charms.

Collecting the charms grants access to the magic powers they possess. Each charm encapsulates a single spell. These work as simple and straightforward manipulations of the surroundings, nothing too complicated, but a nice extra toolbox to consider when pondering a puzzle. And of course they’re a lot of fun when thrown around randomly at innocent, unsuspecting things or people in your immediate vicinity…

I started this review with a warning about the unfairness of the endgame, or, more precisely, about the necessity to do everything just right during the entire game to even be admitted to the endgame. And I did not restart and replay to enter the final few commands that separated me from the conclusion of the story. Nevertheless, I found Jinxter to be an engaging and entertaining exerience. Just watch your step and leave your temper at the entrance.


Which version did you play? I have the Strand Games remake with auto-mapping and all the lovely sound effects, but I’ve never got very far with it. I must give it another try.

(I’d love to know where the sound was recorded, there’s a woman in the pub beer garden who sounds exactly like my sister.)


I played the version on the Magnetic Scrolls Memorial website. (No sound, so I can’t tell if it’s your sister in the beer garden.)

The Magnetic Scrolls Memorial (

Beautiful site: all the games with graphics and hints, PDFs and scans of the feelies, a review of the Magnetic Scrolls history,…


I think you’ll find it does have an examine command. Just not x.


Stefan Meier wrote a totally new amazing ending for the Jinxter remaster. Actually five endings i think. Also inventory limits and tight timers have all be slackened as well.

So you don’t get the original annoyance at the end. It’s well worth playing. The writing was done by Michael Bywater who use to work with Douglas Adams as well.

Oh, and there’s a fantastic new “on the bus” picture which replaces the original “impressionist” failure.

But you can have it the same as the original if you want with the “classic” option switch :slight_smile:


Thanks. Confirmed and fixed.

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But is it my sister in the beer garden? :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve been really impressed with the Jixter: Revived remaster from Strand and can wholeheartedly recommend it. When are we getting Fish!: Resurfaced? :slightly_smiling_face:


Fascinating question. I had a look into this and there’s a story here;

The sound effects and ambiences in Jinxter were taken from a sound effect library originally developed by the guy who wrote Juce. Before Juce he and a friend worked on a product called SoundBasket - a sound effect folio for use in video production. Studios typically have their own extensive licensed sound libraries. But our guys had a problem; they had no sounds to demo their system.

So they went out with a recorder and got some!

And this became the soundbasket demo library. They got footsteps, doors opening, closing and slamming, cars, trains and all sorts including ambiences of shops, streets, gardens and, of course pubs. These would have all been recorded out and about in the UK. I was kindly given permission to use their sound library in products, since they had moved on to another business.

So, there is a genuine possibility that the pub sound ambience could be your sister. Not especially likely, but a distinct possibility.

You never know!


I was originally hoping to get Fish! Resurfaced out by the end of last year. I don’t have much of an excuse, although Stefan has already done some incredible work on it.

One of the problems is the artwork. For the new remasters we are now striving to have a collection of additional art pieces in addition to the originals. For Jinxter we commissioned around six pieces, but for Fish! I’d like to have more. (Are you an artist who’d like to make the Fish artwork? DM me. this is a paid gig, but not lavish).

A compounding factor is that we are also working on Fish2! It’s being written by Phil South, one of the original authors. So it has much the same wacky vibe. Although the game design is in line with modern IF. A chunk is already written and it’s pretty cool. It’s got secret agent stuff, dimensional warp portals and your evil nemesis, the Nine Dangerous Fish. The writing is excellent (unlike my own lame efforts!)

We’re currently unsure how to make the artwork for Fish2. Drawings? 3D renders? AI? So far we haven’t found something satisfactory. AI, for example, has been currently unable to draw humans with fish features. It’s got nothing in its training set to source from - they wind up with giant fish heads or become scary mutants.

I’d quite like to solve the art problem of Fish2 and Fish1 at the same time.

I have to get my finger out though, this year.


They did sound like field recordings! Next time my sister visits I’ll play the game and see if she can confirm it’s her!


It would be so awesome if it really is!



I recorded the sound from the beer garden in Audacity and amplified it. After amplification I could hear the male voice better (wearing headphones) and it sounds to me like my brother-in-law.

I sent the sound file to my sister Sophie and my brother Dan, and both of them are sure that the female voice on the recording is Sophie. They couldn’t hear the male voice well enough to identify it. I didn’t give them any context until afterwards. According to science, we can identify a family member after hearing only two words, and with something like 99% accuracy. This, together with the fact that the man on the recording sounds to me like my sister’s husband, has left me pretty convinced.

We’d love to know where the sound was recorded. My sister and her husband enjoy a beer garden, so it wouldn’t be at all out of character to find them in one!


Would anyone happen to know whether Jinxter remastered is screenreader-accessible? Specifically the versions for iOS or Mac OS. I’ve had my classic experience with the original game from the Magnetic Scrolls memorial site and it would certainly be great to see that revised ending; being hit by a bus is not my idea of a suitable reward for completing my mission.



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Unfortunately, the Jinxter remaster is not screen reader compatible.

This is a problem i have tried to work on. Perhaps someone else can add an insight. The problem is that screen readers do not have an API to send the text. Nor, it appears, is there a standard operating system facility for this.

Instead, the current generation of screen readers work by screen snooping. Of course, this is a bad idea from a security point of view. New code doesn’t allow screen snooping.

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I’m probably in a weird minority, but I think it would be really cool if the remastered versions included the original versions as an extra. I don’t mean you would have to provide support for them - at least not beyond working files and whatever is needed to get past any lingering copy protection - because anyone who wants to run them that badly can probably figure out the rest.

And I notice that Strand Games have already collected quite a bit (though not all of it, it seems?) in their Brahman repository: mscrolls/history/ReleaseArchive · master · strandgames / brahman · GitLab

Part of it is that I had some stability issues last time I tried running the remastered versions (a long time ago so I don’t remember how that turned out, and things may have changed since then anyway), and part of it is that I just think the original interface had a certain charm.



VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader in iOS and macOS, has an API to speak any text passed to it.

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WHAAAAAAT?? This must be the single most improbable thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m wracking my brains for anything that comes an even remotely-close second and completely failing.


pub garden mp3

Next time i bump into the relevant perps, i’ll try to find out if they can remember where this was recorded.