by Don Priestley
DK'Tronics Ltd
Crash Issue 20, Sep 1985   page(s) 72,73

Producer: DK'Tronics
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £6.95
Language: Machine code
Author: Don Priestly

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 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.


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
Screens: 15

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.

Use of Computer: 72%
Graphics: 92%
Playability: 86%
Getting Started: 65%
Addictive Qualities: 92%
Value for Money: 88%
Overall: 90%

Summary: General Rating: A very attractive, cunningly programmed game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 19, Oct 1985   page(s) 47

Dougie: At first sight, this game looks outsize! Everything is BIG! But this trauma soon passes as you come to terms with the idea that not everything has to be four pixels high and, well, who wants to wear glasses anyway.

Everyone's here - Popeye himself, Olive Oil, Bluto, the dragon... Ah! Well, this is where we veer away from the 'Bluto chases after Popeye's girls, Popeye eats the spinach and punches out Bluto' theme.

This multi-screen adventure has got firebreathing dragons, wicked witches, bugeyed monsters and all sorts of other nasties. The idea is to walk Popeye around, jumping up for hearts to take back to Olive, keys and cans of spinach, and keep out of everyone's way. Especially Bluto's. Whenever I went near that particular man-mountain, he thumped me - unfortunately, in the game the cans of spinach are used to revive poor ol' Popeye rather than giving him the strength he needs to return Bluto s compliments.

Once you've got control of the Popeye character, you can walk him all over the place, up and down stairways, shinning up and down ropes... except when you come up against a locked door. At this point, you've got to retrace your steps and search out one of the keys.

To be honest, I wasn't too impressed at first... but then I started uncovering all sorts of locations behind the locked doors and a whole new set of nasties. Not being able to see all the locations at the start does make the game more interesting.

There seems to be a slight problem with the colours - figures often blend in with the background. But the characters are fun, and their movements are both clever and full of humour. 8/10

Rick: A hit, oil be bound, and there are plenty of hits and lists in Popeye!. The world's first ever vegetarian body-builder has been honoured with a game that's pretty to look at, and pretty dull to play. 4/10

Ross: Going round guzzling the green stuff all to get the goil is a good idea - and the cartoon graphics add to the fun. I'd spend the green stuff (no, not the spinach) on this game! 8/10

Ross: 8/10
Rick: 4/10
Dougie: 8/10

Award: Your Spectrum Dougie//s Rave of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 43, Oct 1985   page(s) 23

Publisher: DK Tronics
Price: £6.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Any

Help Popeye save Olive! Olive Oyl stands at her window waiting for her man to bring her hearts. Mean- while the massive frame of Bluto thunders across the screen as he lies in wait for Popeye.

The essence of Popeye is to find all the hearts and return them to Olive before her lovemeter runs out. He must also collect spinach cans, keys and an assortment of objects to aid him during his journey.

Spinach is the only way to revive Popeye following a blow from Bluto, vultures, witches on broomsticks and so on. Keys are needed to gain access to the chambers and rooms where more objects and obstacles lie.

To reach the various objects Popeye can jump, climb up and down ropes and hitch lifts. Be bold and adventurous and you will be rewarded with even more locations to explore.

At first the game is tedious. Popeye is so slow in response to your commands that he is mowed down even as he is recovering from a blow. Once you have adjusted to the slightly slow reactions and cracked the correct sequence to avoid Bluto, you can really start getting into the game.

The graphics are excellent and very large. Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto are all perfect reproductions of the famous cartoon characters.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 21, Oct 1985   page(s) 61


First announced just under a year ago, but delayed due to the chronic Spinach shortage, Popeye finally makes it to the computer screen.

The first thing that strikes you about this game is the graphics, they are HUGE, each character is half the height of the screen, lovingly detailed and animated, and sets a new standard for character graphics. The insert tells you precious little about what to do and, as I would have been at a loss without the reviewer's sheet, I will pass on a few tips to you - ignore the next bit if you don't want to know.

You have to collect 25 hearts and take them to Olive, these have to be taken to her in stages as you have to keep her interest, indicated by the lovemeter. Collect Spinach for recovery when knocked over, keys to open their particular doors, and other objects for future use. Eight objects may be carried at one time so be selective.

The most difficult part is the imaginary 3D or 'layer' system of graphics. The graphics are in fact 2D but there are three or four backward and forward planes which you can be on. For instance, if Popeye is facing you and you walk him forward he will seemingly walk on the spot, For the purpose of the game, he has effectively walked towards you. The reverse also applies.

All moving objects are dangerous if they collide with you, this happens if you are in the same plane, otherwise they will pass behind or in front of you. As well as Up/Down meaning forward and back it can also mean special things in certain circumstances such as climb up or down a rope.

There can be no such thing as a perfect program and the biggest fault I can find with this one is the slowness of the action. However there is a direct relationship between the size of an object and the speed at which it can be animated. All in all I like the size and detail of these graphics too much to be very critical of the speed.

Popeye is a program which pushes the limitations of the Spectrum back yet one more step.

Graphics: 5/5
Addictiveness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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