You should be relieved you didn’t hold your breath waiting for this one, after all Popeye was announced last Christmas. But in his defence the author, Don Priestly, has been occupied writing and converting the last Dk’Tronics offering, Minder.
Popeye loves Olive Oyl, we all know that; it’s why he does that nobody can explain! But Olive, as always, demands that Popeye should prove his love for her — not least because she is also fancied by Bluto and clearly wants to make the most of the situation. Popeye must win Olive over by collecting twenty five hearts and presenting them to her. The hearts can be found scattered around the town, pinned to windows, balconies and the like. Collecting them would be fun but for Bluto and a great gathering of other hostile beings — witches, giant birds and even dragons. All the meanies want to do Popeye in and, should they manage, the only way he can be revived after an attack is to eat a tin of spinach which must be collected in the same way as the hearts. If he hasn’t got a tin handy, then poor old Popeye has had it.
The screen area looks rather like a frame from a comic strip. The characters are very large. Popeye, for example is about half screen height, so not a great deal of the game area can be seen at any one time. While the graphics are not quite 3D the characters can move backwards and forwards allowing them to pass in front of, or behind, other characters or objects. These different layers play a vital part in the game. Popeye could quite happily walk past Bluto so long as they weren’t both on the same path, or ‘layer’ of the screen. Bluto is the hardest to deal with because he, unlike the others, can change from one layer to another. The different layers allow Popeye to walk behind buildings which often results in his being obscured from view until he emerges from the other side.
Most of the ground floor items can be collected by positioning Popeye under them and making him jump up. Other objects may be locked away behind doors, and for these you will need to find the appropriate key — each lock has a specific key. To make matters worse Popeye can only carry eight items at any one time, so to be on the safe side try to keep a good stock of spinach and unload the hearts on Olive as often as you can to leave room for the keys and some other not so obvious items.
To remind you that Olive’s love for Popeye is not everlasting, you will notice on the side of the screen along side the eight cells showing Popeye’s possessions, a love meter which gradually dwindles as time passes. The meter can be restored by delivering the hearts but Popeye is always under threat of falling out of favour for ever. At the end of the day how Popeye scores with Olive depends on how many hearts he collected and how much time he took.
“Apart from the date on the inlay, 1984, I was also struck by the lack of instructions so it took a while to get into the game. After some time I found it to be pretty enjoyable. The large cartoon graphics are very good, but I would have preferred it if they could have been a little smaller so I could have seen a little more of the playing area at any one time. Popeye reacts very slowly to any direction commands which is a bit of shame since with such a small view of the game the player gets very little warning of impending danger. On the whole though I have enjoyed playing this game and perhaps the lack of instructions added something after all.”
“I was rather stunned by the size of the characters in this game; they do work very well indeed, being highly detailed and brightly coloured. In fact one of the things that really struck me was how carefully the game had been designed to hide the attribute problems — I could see how it had been done but the overall effect was very good indeed. I love it when Popeye gets knocked down with his legs flying about, and the tin of spinach appearing from stage right and emptying itself into his mouth. I dare say all of the clever shadowing and masking has slowed this game down quite a lot. Perhaps that doesn’t really matter given the type of game that it is, but I did find Popeye annoyingly slow to respond. Graphically a very impressive game that is playable but slightly frustrating due to its lack of speed.”
“Popeye is not an obvious theme for a game but DK’Tronics have done wonders with it. What first strikes you is the very large characters in the game. This is not to say that they are chunky, in fact they are well detailed. Secondly, I noticed how colourful the graphics are — “oh dear there are going to be a large amount of attribute problems” was my immediate reaction. Well I was amazed to see no problem at all; for the first time masses of colour has been used and with no colour clash. To say the least, I’ve never seen anything like it. Animation is also wonderful. The game plays well, with some complex ideas put into it. Collecting keys is difficult enough, but trying to find which doors they fit is even more of a nightmare. Doesn’t Olive Oyl liked to be loved! She thrives on the difficult-to-get love hearts — what a state to get into! It’s nice to see a game without any violence, and it should go down well with the Mums and Dads. A very well finished game that proves that even the impossible can be done with a clever bit of programming. Brilliant! Buy it to believe it.”
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2 and Cursor
Keyboard play: slow to respond
Use of colour: exceptional
Graphics: large and bright without clash
Sound: very useful
Skill levels: one
Lives: collected by gathering spinach
General rating: A very attractive, cunningly programmed game
|Use of computer||72%|
|Value for money||88%|