Yep, it’s back again, the feature that simply and fearlessly tears the lid off the past and re-examines the CRASH reviews of yesteryear in the light of modern post-industrial development and the onset of Graeme Kidd. Ageing arcade spendthrifts and sworn died-in-the-ink lifelong enemies, ROBIN CANDY and LLOYD MANGRAM sign a tissue-paper thin truce to bring you another...
|Braxx Bluff||Kokotoni Wilf|
|Strange Loop||Frank N Stein|
Monty Mole was released at the height of the miner’s strike and caused quite a stir with games experts, the press and television. This was mainly due to the caricature of Union leader, Arthur Scargill that appeared in the game.
The story goes that it is a long chilling winter’s day and Monty makes a daring bid to snatch coal from a South Yorkshire pit. Monty must find his way through the pit collecting bits of coal and other assorted items in his bid to escape with the goodies. He finally emerges in Arthur’s castle where he must collect the ballot papers to topple the great man but first you must get past Arthur’s personal body guard of flying pickets and nasties.
The game looks very similar to Jet Set Willy but in Jet Set Willy you could easily visit other rooms without collecting items from them. This is not so in Monty Mole. By collecting particular items you are able to proceed through some of the nasties or a wall opens up to allow access to another room. This means that it not a straightforward platform game and some thought is needed to play it. Some of the problems include how to get past the wall on the seventh sheet and how to get past the railway sheets. This all adds up to a highly enjoyable game.
I remember reviewing Monty Mole when it was first released and
thinking that it was an excellent game. If it happened to come into the offices
to be reviewed now I think I would like it just as much. The graphics are
superb with few attribute problems considering that it is a very colourful
game. Monty Mole is just as playable as the third game in the Monty
trilogy, Monty On The Run, and is certainly addictive. If you still
haven’t got it then pop out and buy it now!
This game, of course, was voted Best Platform Game of 84 by
CRASH readers, and looking at it again now, I can see why. Although it only has
21 main screens, most of them are deadly tough and you have to go through one
or two of them twice. On top of that, the physical layout and the way the
screens link up, make it an exciting looking game that really hasn’t dated at
(Rob) I wouldn’t alter the ratings at all; Monty Mole is still an excellent platform game.
(Lloyd) And neither would I!
Man has progressed far beyond the limits of the solar system and has begun to explore the unimaginably distant worlds in the search for resources and knowledge. In every new system an intergalactic rescue cruiser stands at the ready in case of an emergency. It is manned by volunteers of the Life Corps. You are such a volunteer and the emergency at Braxx Bluff will either make you a hero or a memory.
The lifeship Vega has stabilised its orbit around the planet Prolon in response to a distress from below. Three members of an exploratory team left their base in a rover and have fallen prey to the energy hungry creatures who inhabit the world. The creatures fed on the energy banks in the rover which now lies stranded without power, the occupants slowly dying as the life support systems fail. Your mission is simple — land, find the rover and return to base in time to save the lives of the crew.
There are 5 stages to the game. If you should land safely then you will proceed on foot towards a sound emanating from the rover, but you must avoid the birds which are out to get you. When you complete this stage you find the rover and it is your task to drive this as fast as you can down the road. Next comes the the sea skimming. Here the rover stays at full speed to avoid sinking, but the sea is full of rocks which must be avoided at all costs. A direction finder guides your way — the higher the pitch the more directly you are heading towards base. If you complete that stage then you will arrive at the base and start a new mission.
Braxx Bluff has very simplistic graphics that generate
a reasonable representation of 3D. Micromega went for the simple but effective
look instead of using lots of colourful detailed graphics that would make the
screen look a mess. The sound isn’t up to much but it plays a critical part in
the game. This game is very playable although it takes quite a bit of practice
to get anywhere but it has the addictive qualities to bring you back to play it
again. Overall Braxx Bluff is still a reasonable game by today’s
standards but it can’t really contend with the likes of Frankie and
I always thought Braxx Bluff was a strange looking
game, but its 3D effects worked quite well. On the other hand, this is probably
the least thrilling of Micromega’s 3D efforts and in retrospect it has aged a
bit graphically, but still offers quite a challenge in its various stages.
(Rob) I would probably lower all the ratings except Playability by about 10-15%.
(Lloyd) Given that I thought its ‘strangeness’ made up a lot of its value at the time, I would have to agree with Robin, strange as that may seem!
It was about this time last year that we were first subjected to the merciless hype approach of Elite with their first release, Kokotoni Wilf, boasting that it would knock JSW off its perch.
Legend has it that several hundred years ago in a province of Northern Europe there lived a magician by the name of Ulrich, who discovered that the famous Dragon Amulet had been fragmented and the pieces scattered through time. Being too old and infirm, Ulrich could not go on a mission to recover the pieces himself. So he summoned his young protege, Kokotoni Wilf, to his presence and bade him to go and fetch all the parts of the amulet. The only help Ulrich could give was to create a time gate that would take Kokotoni Wilf to another time zone and more fragments but only when all the fragments in his present time zone were collected.
Your task is to guide Wilf around the maze of rooms and collect all the fragments of the Dragon Amulet for Ulrich.
Kokotoni Wilf is essentially a platform game with a
couple of differences — instead of jumping from platform to platform you can
fly. This may seem very easy but it does take a while before you can actually
‘pilot’ Wilf competently. The graphics are quite good but they weren’t really
that much better than those found in JSW just a bit more varied. Sound
was a bit limited but that didn’t detract from the overall feel of the game.
Kokotoni Wilf was and still is very playable but it isn’t that
addictive, once you have visited all the time zones you rapidly lose interest.
As platform games go it is a very good one which is still worth getting if
you’re a lover of this type of game.
I must admit that while I liked the look of Kokotoni
Wilf, I never found the game itself that thrilling to play. Although the
different graphics of each Time Zone added something to its overall flavour,
that alone wasn’t enough for me to get very excited. It did pretty well in
CRASH at the time (my not having a hand in the review of it!), but I don’t
think it would get much above the mid-seventies now.
(Rob) I wouldn’t fiddle with the ratings too much just take down the addictive qualities and the overall percentage down by about 5%.
(Lloyd) Whereas I would want to knock both those down by at least 15%.
Hyperaction followed hot on the heels of Silversoft’s previous release Worse Things Happen At Sea, but instead of a totally original game they turned back to using a more traditional arcade type of game.
Hyperaction is best described as a ‘Pengo’ meets ‘Pacman’ type game. You move around a randomly generated screen collecting objects (usually four) but you have some nasties chasing along after you. What makes Hyperaction is that you can’t actually kill the baddies only trap them by pushing the blocks that form the maze in their path. Each screen is a game in its own right and subsequently has its own problems — sometimes collecting the objects will be enough to finish that screen or it might require you to eat all the blue out of the Artic Jelly fish.
Pushing the blocks is easy enough, just press fire and push the block in the direction you wish it to go; should the block meet the edge of the screen or another block then a further push will burn the block away. The blocks are an important of the game but on the last screen there are none and you have to survive on skill and speed alone.
Hyperaction is certainly the name of the game for this
horrendously fast ‘Pengo’ variant. The graphics are very colourful and move
smoothly, which makes this game a treat to watch. Sound is used well and the
whole game has a very polished look to it. Hyperaction is highly
playable and quite addictive though it is probably a bit too hard. Overall it
is still a good game by today’s standards and will doubtlessly appeal more to
the younger players.
Silversoft took a bit of risk with this one, using older ideas
and simple looking graphics, but they certainly aimed to make a tough, fast
and highly addictive game and they succeeded. Because of those rather
‘timeless’ qualities, it has hardly aged at all and still represents excellent
fun for anyone with fingers sufficiently nimble and eyes adequately bright.
(Rob) I would keep the playability the same and lower all the other ratings by 10%.
(Lloyd) On the whole I think I would leave well alone, except on the graphics, which in all fairness are not worth the rating they got, but that was probably due to the system then in use in CRASH.
As Frank it is your task to put together parts of a monster. These parts happen to be scattered around your mansion but this is no ordinary luxury pad, for instance you can only go down the stairs and firepoles, and how many houses have ice in them or coiled springs to get you up a floor?
There are seven bits of the monster to collect namely the head, shoulders, arms and legs which all have to be assembled in the right order, from the head downwards. When you have completed your monster you have to activate him if you have built him well with in the time limit, then the monster won’t have too much of an electric shock but if you only just make in time then he will be very, very angry. In the first set of rooms there are some light bulbs that, if picked up, will make the clock turn back slightly. The next screen is a sort of ‘Kong’ variant. The monster stands at the top of the screen throwing things down at you, how many objects he throws depends on how quickly you completed the previous screen. You must now guide little Frank to the top of the screen safely, and on completion you move back to the ‘mansion’ screen to start building another monster. This time the layout of the mansion has changed and there is less time allowed. The game goes on like this, alternating between the construction screen and the Kong game while getting progressively harder.
Platform games have never been my favourites so it takes a
really good one with some original features in it to capture my attention. A
year ago Frank N. Stein did this but has now lost some of its appeal.
The graphics are really only above average and the same goes for the sound
which is limited to spot effects. Frank N. Stein is instantly
playable but I very much doubt people will play over long periods of time, and
it is probably more suited to ardent fans of platform games. Overall it’s lost
some appeal over the last year but I’m sure quite a few people would gain some
of enjoyment from it.
At the time this came out, platform games were all the rage on
the ‘let’s out-willy JSW’ level. Frank N.
Stein did offer some nice new twists to the straightforward platformer,
but these were really just refinements. It was quite playable and amusing, but
nothing really major.
(Rob) I would definitely lower the graphics rating by about 15% and the addictive qualities by about 7%. If Frank N. Stein was a new game then I would give it somewhere around the 71% mark.
(Lloyd) Yes, I think that’s a fair estimate.
In Strangeloop it is your task to regain control of a robot controlled space factory that has been invaded by aliens who have reprogrammed the robots to destroy Earth.
No man has stepped into the factory for over 100 years and no maps exist. All you now is that the place lacks oxygen, has no gravity and is infested with razor-sharp industrial waste (swarf). The object is to reach the room with the central computer in it but this isn’t a case of exploring the maze until you find the room because you must overcome many puzzles before you can complete Strangeloop.
To help you on your mission you have an oxygen suit and a laser gun. If you get hit by flying swarf then a hole is ripped in the suit and your oxygen leaks out faster than it should, so a continual search for suit patches is another part of the game. The laser has a maximum of 99 charges and fires either horizontally or diagonally so as well as looking for suit patches you must also look for gun charges. Somewhere in the complex of rooms is a jet cycle which can be used to speed up your movement throughout the rooms but this cycle is rather old and drinks up a lot of power so look out for extra power packs. As Strangeloop is such a large game the LOAD and SAVE facilities are required quite a bit.
Strangeloop was and still is one of the most difficult
arcade adventures around and it shouldn’t be missed by fans of this type
of game. The graphics are still good by today’s standards and the sound
is reasonable. It is still very playable and the various puzzles should keep
you addicted for a long time, the only problem being that the game might prove
a bit too difficult. It is definitely still worth getting a year after its
In my opinion, Strangeloop is the best game Virgin ever produced, and actually one of the best arcade adventures of its kind. The problems it set and the methods required for solving them are as appealing today as they were a year ago. Certainly a game that has aged very little indeed.
(Rob) I would probably lower all the ratings by a couple of percent but no more because it is still a very good arcade adventure.
(Lloyd) This one has stood the test of time and I think our original ratings were pretty well spot on.